GIFT of Repentance
Anyone out there flinching when they hear the “gift” of repentance??
Throughout the majority of my life, John the Baptist scared me.
“‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah saying:
The voice of the one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His path straight’.” Matthew 3: 1-3
I was raised in a Baptist church and this message was daunting and alarming. I thought he was saying to me, “Hurry and change yourself because Jesus is coming and if you don’t; you’re going to be in big trouble, and He will leave you behind!”
Just this message alone started to conjure thoughts of condemnation about myself. How can I be perfect?
For years I tried to change myself for Jesus.
Not so much because I wanted a deep relationship with him, I was scared of Him, and all fall short right? I wanted to change myself so I didn’t go to hell. I didn’t want to suffer, and I surely did not want to be punished.
I began to hide myself in shame and guilt SELF JUDGEMENT, RIGHT OUT OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS
3:9-10 “Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him ‘Where are you?’ 10 So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked: and I hid myself’.”
Funny how you know that God is omnipotent, but when you think about it deeply; you only think He knows the bad stuff. That is shame, and it is a shame.
Trying to change for the Lord and “REPENT!” never worked for me.
So those who can’t……teach! Or become a counselor!
I became a counselor. If I can’t change for God, I will help people change and keep God out of it. And I will start with the worst bunch of hooligans I can find to make myself feel better and self-righteous! So I thought….just because their sin manifests mostly on the outside, they were worse!
I started my counseling journey in addictions.
It seemed that I was not breaking any addiction cycles for anyone. Cognitive-behavior modification can only go so far until you are stuck with someone’s core beliefs.
The heart is in constant attack and I believe the true prize of spiritual warfare. If our core beliefs are not based on the truth of God, we fall victim to a cycle of lies will ultimately kill, steal, and destroy.
Cycle defined: we sin, we feel horrible, we repent, and we feel more horrible, which leads to more sin. I thought I was so smart to figure this out, until I found it in the bible. God always shows me up!
Matthew 12:43-45 says that 43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. “
Satan being satan, led me to lies that I was not good enough for “the kingdom at hand” because there was NO CHANGE (that I could see) GOING ON. Maybe I did not love Jesus enough? I wasn’t trying hard enough. I wasn’t serious about eternity. The big one: I loved sin more than I loved God! YIKES!
The good news was that God knew my heart. He knew I wanted to repent, I did want Jesus; and although at times I gave up on myself, God never gave up on me. And, NEVER WILL!
God placed a hunger in my heart. After years of knocking and asking, I was finally led into a world where He was the focus.
I started to understand for the first time in my life
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
This time I just didn’t ask….I sought, and I just didn’t seek…..I knocked and abided in His love. I literally had the definition of abide on my mirror, in my bathroom.
- to wait for
- to endure without yielding
- withstand b : to bear patiently
- to accept without objection
- to remain stable or fixed in a state
- to continue in a place
I started to get to know Him, really get to know Him. At this time, I was not so much led to read the Bible daily or meditate on scripture. Every time I started there, I would become frustrated because I didn’t understand any of it. I would repent because I was so out of touch with His word. Days would go by and I would stare at my Bible as if it were this Mount Everest I had to climb. So I continued to pray about it. As I spent time in silence asking God to show Himself to me, I started to experience Him. I started to talk to Him. I started to ENCOUNTER God. I placed myself in situations that made me vulnerable and where I needed to step out in faith. I started to crave the bible, and He would lead me to scriptures and I would experience the scriptures. Even LEVITICUS!
My plea changed from “I repent” “I confess”, “I’m not worthy of you Lord” to…… “You love me, and I need you”. “You made me perfect in Christ and I need to know more about that Lord”. “I am a daughter of God and righteous in Christ, and I need your help to find You here”.
God showed me how desperate I was for a good Father and Brother. He showed me that I NEEDED A LOVE THAT DID NOT DISAPPOINT!
When my King showed it to me (and I’m positive it’s just a molecule compared to what all He has for me), HE broke my heart wide open and HE wrote repent on my heart. My repentance was a huge billowing wave of deep sorrow and emptiness that I had been carrying to protect myself from any more shame and guilt. It was not the sin He showed me. We didn’t even talk about the sin!!!
WELL WAIT….we talked about it, but it was all boiled down to one….the original sin….hiding in our OWN JUDGEMENT. Assuming that repentance was more SHAME or GUILT!
I released it to Him. This time repentance was accepting and receiving all the love I could handle from Him at that time. He has SO MUCH MORE!!!!!! The true sorrow in my heart was ever-changed because I saw for the first time: His FORGIVNESS. I saw how much He can withstand of my misconceptions of Him. I saw Him cry with me that my will of not being hurt again kept me in bondage. I SAW MY FATHER LOVE ME and I SHOUTED I REPENT I REPENT! And I meant it throughout every hair on my head to the tips of my toes. My soul shook in my rib cage until I thought my heart was going to burst into flames! The love that flowed through me was like a current of power I still can’t describe. It was not punishment, it was GLORY!!!!! He wants to “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His path straight” in our hearts”, and He is delighted to do so, not angry and resentful. He can’t be; He is LOVE.
He wants the sin to stop….but not because you’re a bad horrible person that won’t make it in the gates, but because He knows there will be NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGE, until HE is allowed to change your heart and occupy as much of it as WE are willing to give Him. It’s not a checklist!!!
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29) take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30) For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”.
Repentance cannot be fulfilled without the Lord. It is not something you must do before the Lord comes to you. It is not something you need to check off a list in order to be blessed. It is a true revelation of your Lord and King. It is “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness”. Repentance with Christ is what changes your heart and leaves you wanting more of Him.
Now I suffer to see my King and see how He sees me. I don’t suffer because I’m not worthy of His love. Tracey Eckert of HOZ once said “Eat God with your eyes. Try to see what God sees in you and you will experience repentance.” Repentance….inviting God into every situation.
Keri Lawrence 1/2012