Having grown up in the church, I was aware of some of the details of Peter’s life. Specifically, his denials of Jesus. I just assumed that, after such a disgrace, he lived out the rest of his life in guilt and shame.

When I became a Christian and began reading the New Testament, I couldn’t believe that the Peter of Acts was the same Peter in the gospels. They seemed to be two different people. When I read the letters Peter had written, I was surprised that he didn’t mention — not even once — the time he denied Christ.

He didn’t seem to be a man overcome with guilt. Instead he spoke with authority and confidence. He told his readers to practice self-control, to be holy, to avoid hypocrisy, and to live for God. I wondered: How can he write with such boldness when he failed so publicly?

There’s only one reason. Peter experienced grace. He found out what it truly, truly means to have your slate wiped clean and to be given another chance.

The critics of Peter could have said, “This man has no place in the ministry. Look at his history. He’s impulsive. He has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Jesus even called him ‘Satan’ once. He made a fool of himself when he tried to walk on water. He violently attacked a soldier in the Garden of Gethsamane. Worst of all, he denied Jesus before he abandoned him. This guy has been trouble since Day One. He doesn’t deserve to be called a Christian, let alone be a leader in the church.”

Though everything these hypothetical critics said is true, one fact that negates it all: the power of God’s grace. No matter how far you have fallen, you are never too far down to be picked up and cleaned up and given a new start.

You may feel like your past excludes you from any hope of having a good life … but the grace changes that. The God of another chance is calling your name.