G’day mate! Welcome to you! This post is part of a series I’m working my way through in the month of October, called Swim Your Own Race. If you’d like to start at the beginning (it is a very good place to start, after all) you can do so, right here. You can also find a link to all the posts in this series on Day One. I hope you enjoy diving in! And P.S. … it appears, among the many issues with my website at the moment, that my comments might be BROKEN… sorry about that.


Quick question for you to think about. How do you handle failure?

{Pausing for a moment for you to ponder that…}

Like, how do you handle it when you really mess up?

Are you able to get your head back in the game pretty quickly, or do you kind of want to drag yourself across the coals for a while?

Hold that thought.

For the past two days of this Swim Your Own Race series, I’ve been discussing some of the last things Jesus said to His disciples before He headed for the sky. Each gospel we’ve covered (Matthew, Mark and Luke) had something very specific to say about going out and being witnesses that testify to Who Jesus was and what He did while He was here on planet Earth.

The last conversation recorded in John’s Gospel is fairly different, but some of the same conclusions can still be drawn. We probably need to briefly look at the backstory for it to all make sense.


Peter was perhaps the most bold and brazen of all the disciples. He was quick to speak, eager to participate, and usually had something to say in just about any situation. He answered Jesus’ Who Do You Say That I Am with “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus cheered for Him for receiving this revelation, and in the very next passage rebuked Peter for his attempt at telling Jesus that He couldn’t be crucified. (That was that Get behind me, Satan moment you might remember.)

Towards the end of Jesus’ life, as the story continues, Peter is still eager to make good choices and do the right thing. When Jesus tells him again that He is going somewhere Peter can’t immediately follow, Peter says, “Lord, why can’t I follow you? I will lay down my life for your sake.”

Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.” {see John 13:36-38}

Now you might remember, as the story goes on, that bold and brazen Peter cuts off the ear of one of the High Priests’ servants in an attempt to protect Jesus during His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But immediately following that arrest, Peter begins to follow at a distance, and a servant girl sees him, and says, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples are you?” And Peter says, “I am not.” {John 18:17}

Twice more in the time that follows, Peter denies Jesus, even to a relative of the man whose ear he’d cut off, and immediately the rooster crows.

I imagine at this point, Peter felt like a total failure. He claimed he’d die for Jesus, and yet he denied even knowing Him to a servant girl.

Perhaps you’ve never made a mistake that has felt like it was of this magnitude. Or maybe you think your mistakes are even worse. But, praise God from Whom all blessings flow, Peter’s story wasn’t over yet. (And neither is  yours…)

After the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples on more than one occasion. And one of the final occasions, which we’ve discussed over the past couple of days, was the breakfast by the sea.

We find Peter at this point, and it looks like he may have decided he was no good at being a disciple, and he’s given up. He was with the other disciples when he said, “I am going fishing.” Peter, whom Jesus called to become a fisher of men, is probably thinking in his mind, “Maybe I should just stick with fishing for fish.”

But Jesus calls to them from the shore, and they come in and eat breakfast together. And then this conversation takes place.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” {John 21:13-19}

What’s going on in this interesting conversation? A number of things. Perhaps Jesus asks Peter the love question three times because Peter denied Jesus three times. Perhaps He wants to emphasize what His disciples are supposed to do is they love Him. Three is an important and significant biblical number and we could spend six months just considering that… but let’s just take this at face value and look at what we know for sure.

Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and when he said he did, Jesus told him to Feed My lambs. Now, this should be familiar to Peter. Jesus has spoken before about being the Good Shepherd Who knows and loves His sheep. The disciples understood that God’s people were His sheep. Jesus was calling Peter to feed His sheep — in the spiritual sense, teaching them who Jesus was and how to follow Him, and in the literal sense, knowing that concern for the poor would be one of the signs that followed the people of God. He told Peter to Tend His Sheep, too. Peter will assume the responsibility of leadership in the early church.

How could we sum this up in a nutshell? Perhaps Jesus could’ve said, “Peter, it ain’t over till it’s over. You think that you’ve messed up so badly that you need to go back to fishing. But I know you love Me. And I’ve got a plan for you.”

Jesus went on to tell Peter a small glimpse of what would happen to him as he did continue to follow Jesus and feed His sheep. And those bold and brazen words, “I’ll lay down my life for your sake?” Well, they most certainly became a reality. Peter was a pillar in the New Testament church, had incredible influence in the growth of the early church, and would eventually be martyred as a follower of Christ.

It ain’t over till it’s over.

What about you? Did you have a vision of doing something incredible for God? Are you settling for a slice of humble pie? Or do you perhaps feel unacceptable to God — as if you’ve just gone so far over the line that there’s no hope for you?

Let Peter’s story remind you of this important truth: God loves you. He has an incredible plan for your life, and He chose to spend some of His last words restoring someone who denied Him when, by human standards, He needed a friend like never before.

Let this truth speak to your every day. Perfectionism isn’t going to get you anywhere. Humility — the willingness to recognize that we’re all flawed and we’re all going to make mistakes — this is the stuff that will help us bounce back when we fall short.

Know that on the race you’re swimming, there are going to be days when you will just plain miss the mark. Like Peter, you might get out of the boat and walk on the water, but also like Peter, you may start to sink. The Good News is that Jesus didn’t come for the perfect, He came for the willing. He came to pave a path back to God for the flawed failures of the world, for those of us who aren’t even sure we want to get back up.

You are so loved! You are so welcome and so accepted!

Forgiveness is a gift worth unwrapping. Dive into a bold swim today friends. God isn’t looking for perfect. He’s always just been looking for you.