‘Most people think of repentance as a heavy, sombre religious duty. In reality, authentic biblical repentance is a life-giving art, renewing the entire soul.’ (John Mark Comer, ‘My Name is Hope: Anxiety, depression and life after melancholy.’)
In my last post in this series I gave repentance as one of the reasons for God coming as he did. There had not been much repentance about my initial conversion – but after that I had almost 17 years of ‘worldly sorrow’ [2Corinthians 7:10]; times of severe, suicidal depression. I believe that somehow God kept me alive through all that.
One day, as I stood in my kitchen, tears were streaming down my face and I thought ‘there must be more to life than this.’
And that was the beginning of my turning – not even a prayer as such, yet I believe that that was when God started the process of drawing me back to himself. He answers prayer, and often it’s my most ‘rubbish’ prayers that get answered!
It’s all about grace – God’s outrageous, undeserved favour. He longs to bless us, the jewels in the crown of his wonderful creation.
He is only ever a prayer’s breadth away. As we turn to him, be it ever so slightly, he turns to us and lavishes his blessing.
We were created to have relationship with him. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had an intimate relationship with God, which one act of disobedience destroyed.
At the Fall as it’s called, a great fault-line ripped through the fabric of the entire universe. Maybe that’s when entropy started – the tendency for everything to descend into chaos. We have the job of trying to reverse that tendency: from weeding the garden to cleaning and repairing the house. Houses and gardens don’t stay ordered for long without effort on our part to keep them ordered.
From Genesis 3 onwards the bible is a record of how God hasn’t given up on us. He revealed himself to Abraham and Moses – and people still messed up. So he sent his son, Jesus – and look what happened to him.
And still God loves us and gives life – life with a capital L, Life in all its fullness (John 10:10) – to those who turn to him.
He revealed himself to Paul, who was on his way to Damascus to persecute Jesus’ followers. Paul, the man who thought he was doing God’s will when he held the coats whilst they stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
And he’ll reveal himself to you if you ask him. I challenge anyone who really wants to know if God exists to say something like ‘God, if you’re there, show me.’
I don’t know how he’ll do it, or how long it might take, but I believe that he will speak in such a way that we will know it’s him – he will speak in the language of our hearts. He knows what buttons to press to get our attention.
For me, he’ll often speak a single word. I’ll tell you more about that in my next post in this series – my Eureka Moment.
How about you, has God revealed himself in a special way to you?
[P.S. – it might seem that I have got off the track of repentance – but repentance isn’t what we think it is. We think it’s feeling sorry for what we’ve done – and it is partly that – but it’s so much more.
Since retiring, I’ve been catching up on a lot of reading and have come across a lot of references to repentance and some very different ways of describing it:
‘going beyond the mind’ – Cynthia Bourgealt, ‘The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message’.
‘to change your way of thinking’ – Rob Bell, ‘What we talk about when we talk about God’.
‘to think about the world in a new way. To view the world in a different light. To doubt your doubts and trust the way of Jesus as true reality’ – John Mark Comer, ‘My Name is Hope’.
‘acceptance of being found’ – Kenneth E. Bailey, ‘The Cross and the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants’.
From the above it would seem that it was not my repentance that led to God’s coming as he did, but rather his coming (and letting me know that he accepted me as I was) led to repentance, the renewing of my soul.
As Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘God’s kindness leads to repentance.’ [Romans 2:4]
What has been your experience of repentance? Do please share.
You can find earlier posts in this series at: https://delemares.wordpress.com/category/my-story/