My Scarlet List of Crimes

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 The 30 day devotional I’ve been reading this month brought me to the passages in John this morning when Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved him.  Peter’s faith had recently been put to the ultimate test and he had failed miserably.

I find this moment between Jesus and Peter to be one of the most beautiful interactions in the entire Bible.  I guess it’s because, like so many of the other flawed and imperfect followers of Jesus we meet in Scripture, I can see glimpses of  myself in this story.   I can look back and see me, that young teenage girl clinging to her mental list of  “I would never, Lord.”   And then I can see the chaos and pain of life come rushing in and that young girl quickly retreating back into the shadows to hide.  Fear whispered in her ear, it’s safer here.   Her faith was put to the test and she failed miserably.

Her list of  “I would never, Lord” became a scarlet letter in her hand.   For years, she carried that letter around, a list of her crimes a mile long.

Then one day she came face to face again with Jesus.  She listened to Him ask her that same question He asked Peter so many years ago.  Do you love Me?  Do you love Me?  Do you love Me?

And through her tears she answered Him, “Yes, Lord!”

And just like that, He took the list from her hand.  She watched Him as He wrote a single letter in bright red ink across the entire page, “F“.   He looked up at her and she saw it in His eyes before she even heard it in His words, Forgiven, Forgiven, Forgiven.  Those words embraced her heart that day.  That grace enveloped her like a warm, soft blanket.  And, today, it covers her completely.

Whenever I read this account in Scripture, two things come to mind.  First, I think about the lost sheep I came across several years ago as I was driving home from the grocery store.  You can read that post HERE   I also think about this Third Day song, “Can’t Take the Pain.”

This song had a profound impact on me years ago.  I was driving along in my car one day listening to this song when my heart really heard these lyrics. They spoke truth into my soul. “But why’d you take the blame for everything that I did?”  It was almost as if Jesus was sitting right there in the car with me.  He looked at me and said,  “You know those words they just sung…you know they’re meant for you too, right?”

I don’t know how to end this post, other than to say that Jesus isn’t keeping count. He isn’t keeping a list of your crimes.  The only thing He is doing right now is asking you a question:

Do you love Me?

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