This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Though Peter had followed a winding path, he would still choose to follow. He’d answered that call a few years before on a shoreline, forsaking his fishing and his nets in pursuit of a higher calling. He’d stepped out in faith and would continue to do so, even if he wasn’t the same as he had been then. He’d made some mistakes, said the wrong thing at times, but he was always sincere and earnest in his love for Jesus. He’d denied, but he was forgiven. He’d failed, but he got back up. He said at one time that he was willing to die with Jesus, and he would die for Him eventually.
If Peter had a do-over, he may have made different choices. But those choices he did make—those fumbles and mistakes and failures—made him the man he was. They allowed Jesus to correct him and refine him and grow him in ways he couldn’t have otherwise grown. And in the end, he saw that it was worth it to follow Jesus wherever He would lead.
And those kinds of experiences in our own lives help to solidify our faith. Those regrets teach us valuable lessons. Those chastisements keep us humble and help us to grow. The love and grace that Jesus gives us in our messes implants within us love and grace for others. And our love for Him will enable us to go wherever He may lead us. What have we learned from our time following the Lord? Where has He taken us that we could have never imagined going? Have we stuck faithfully to those footprints in front of us as Jesus guided our way behind Him?
It really is possible to be in it for the long haul, to faithfully follow for a lifetime no matter where that journey takes us. Maybe Peter didn’t envision that for himself. Maybe he didn’t think he was capable of it. But Jesus saw it in his future. He saw it in the martyr’s death that Peter would die and the lifetime of service for His cause that would happen in the interval. He saw it in a young man grown old who had stayed the course. His Simon Peter would die a death that glorified God, and he would live a life that did the same. We can, too, and the key is the same—simply following Jesus with an undistracted gaze upon Him and His will for us.