At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Mark 14:72, NRSV)

The moment the cock crows! Those moments when the reality of our failures comes crashing into the reality of our minds are perhaps the loneliest, most horrifying moments. How could I have failed? Again? Him? When I am supposed to be The Rock he called me to be? How could I curse a servant girl just to disown the One for whom I swore I would die? How could I fail so miserably, when I was given every tool for success? What is wrong with me? Defective about me? Broken in me? Inadequate? Lost?

The flurry of self-deprecating accusations stopped for Peter because he was the rock on which the church would be built. He was a friend of Jesus. He had a life of hope to live. His triple failure would be redeemed in a triple interrogation of his love for Christ, which would prove true. For Judas Iscariot, however, the flurry was maddening, and became the rope around his neck that sealed his fate and fulfilled Jesus’ proclamation that it would have been better if he’d not been born. I have lived with that flurry of spiritual torment winding its way around my neck. I remember the poison food I ate, the drink I drank, the Surgeon General’s warnings I ignored, the degrading things I did and people I did them with, and I remember the taste of the gun in my mouth and the clash of blued steel against my teeth. I remember how it felt to be convinced I was nothing but a failure. I bought, at least in those fleeting moments, the lie that what I felt at those times was more real than the faith I claimed to have or the love I once felt. Someone bigger than me stayed my hand and spared me for another day, one in which I would see beyond my pain to someone else who, like me, needed their hand stayed during their dark, broken-down moment of despair.

20140317-143551.jpg“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter. “Feed my lambs.” Jesus has instituted a pattern by this leadership of the Rock, that the one must serve the many, and the many must serve each other. Even the prime minister of the Church was to tend to the needs of the smallest ewe. This service is the reason we emerged from our shadowy valleys. Now we can help one another when trouble eclipses the light of hope, and Satan’s imps begin to entangle Christ’s precious vulnerable ones in the lies of self, hate, death, and destruction.

Dear Father, today, I thank You for accompanying me through the valley of the shadow of death, and for saving me for such a time as this. Deliver me to Your purpose for me today. Help me recognize it and respond; and give me the resources needed to fulfill that purpose. Be glorified in the life I live, Lord Jesus! In Your name I am privileged to address the Father. Amen!