“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
I take my Father’s goodness for granted.
He graciously invites me to take the opportunity to repent, but instead, I question the invitation because of my shame—or worse, I compromise it.
There has not been much going on in my life on paper these days. Maybe more so in-between the lines. Long story short, I have been at war with myself and my familiar pit of darkness welcomed me back home.
I was hit with a stirring in my heart a few weeks ago. Once the smoke cleared, I was not satisfied with the direction that God was pointing me towards. I didn’t expect it to look like this. I subconsciously refused to obey Him from where I was. It was either “God, just let me manipulate the picture a bit before I do what I need to do!” or “God let me live out what people have written for me or what I have written for myself!” That alone should have revealed the true intent of my heart’s desires, but my pride led me elsewhere. As it always does.
So I began my typical self-pity party and invited those that were in reach of me. “Oh poor me, I am alone.” “Oh my poor future, I am left behind.” “Oh my poor heart, I am always trying to please people.” No. No, no, no. But that was the mantra that was on repeat throughout mornings and nights. I knew I was sinning. I knew I was defying God’s will and timing in the life He has for me. I smugly admitted it with my lips, but my heart was dripping with shame.
You see, I have a tendency of fearing man more than fearing the Lord. The root of that is shame. And it is so easy to forget that in any challenge, no matter who is actually in the wrong, it is always between you and God first. As Edward T. Welch says, “The first biblical perspective on the fear of man is that it is the result of the nakedness that comes from sin. Because of sin still present within us, we experience embarrassment, shame, the feeling of being exposed and vulnerable. As a result, we try to protect ourselves and avoid the gaze of others. The ultimate problem appears to be the gaze of other people, but in reality the problem is within us and between God and ourselves.” So by the time God reminded me just how self-absorbed and prideful I had been, I did what any anxious teenage daughter would do: I ran.
It was subtle, though. I was already knee-deep in my sin so all I wanted (and sadly, attempted) was to tidy up my sin a little. “Look God, I know, but let me just clean this mess I made before I turn around.” I become desensitized to the Gospel and the all-powerful, life-saving, salvation-giving truth that the price has already been paid by Christ Himself. What am I even doing?
I lost self-control. I dug the hole further and further. I chose quick-fixes or muttered quick spurts of “I’m sorry” whenever I felt too guilty. Little did I know that He was clothing me in my naked shame, whether it was placing me in a God-fearing environment or sending vessels from various walks of life. My lack of humility, inevitably, prolonged this realization. My own understanding is single-handedly the worst crutch to lean on.
Amidst all of my detours, even after all of my messy compromises, God faithfully spoke through my pastor and 2 Corinthians 7:10-16.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
We cannot add Jesus without subtracting sin.
“If a man does not repent, God will sharpen His sword; He has bent and readied His bow.” (Psalm 7:12)
Our Father gives us repentance to work out life, peace, and freedom. We are not experiencing punishment and judgement because God is delaying it so that myself and others may repent. For is the kingdom of heaven not at hand?
The Fruit of Repentance v.s. Unrepentance:
– Eager for restoration versus Lack of zeal to reconcile
– Holy hatred toward sin versus Love/hate relationship with the sin
– Humility versus Pride (continued state of rebellion due to arrogance)
– Trustworthy versus Dishonesty in hiding sin
– Fear of God (being in awe) versus Fear of man (trying to save face)
– Pursue righteousness (no regrets) versus Chasing idols (regrets leading to death)
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” (Acts 3: 19-21)
Lord you are not slow to fulfill Your promises. Who am I to define what is slow? Lord thank You that your presence alone is more than enough. Thank you for this delight and freeing joy in You. Thank you for giving us this opportunity, not obligation, to turn to you and go back home. That this gift is meant to rid of ourselves so that our love for others may increase. That it reveals our true brothers and sisters, for the holy wounds of a friend is love. That we have the freedom to worship and find delight in You. Thank you for reproving and disciplining those that You love. Father, have me remember that coming to You should be a joyful devotion to Christ. I love you, Dad.