We cut down a couple of trees in our back yard today, and do you know what happened? I saw the sun shining on a barren part of our yard that had been in the shade for years. It was an amazing feeling to see warm rays streaming on the sparsely covered earth.
Cutting trees down doesn’t make the grass grow, but it does get rid of the obstacles that keep it from thriving. In the same way, repentance doesn’t save us, but it does get rid of the obstacles that keep us from living the life we’re meant to live.
I was astounded to discover a great verse on repentance this week:
And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Acts 3:25-26
Peter said in the verse that repentance is a BLESSING. More than that, it is the way that ALL people on earth can be blessed! And even more, it is the fulfillment of one of the greatest promises in the Bible.
Wow. I always thought repentance was sort of a grungy chore, like cleaning the sink. It’s not fun to do, but the finished product feels great.
But now I am realizing that repentance is a SUPER TREASURE of a gift from God, a long-awaited manifestation of His grace.
And it is a gift. Sure, we put in the effort of denying ourselves. But the Bible says that God grants repentance. (II Tim 2:25, Acts 5:31) When people are saved it is seen as the evidence of God’s grace. (Acts 11:23)
Repentance is a gift that keeps me from ruining my life with grumpiness, bitterness, lust, selfishness, and so on.
It’s a gift that allows God to bless me. If I obey God I will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matt 7:24) If I seek the kingdom first God will take care of me. (Matt 6:33)
You know, Jesus didn’t just come into the world. John the Baptist came first, to call people to repent, to remove the obstacles. “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
But while John the Baptist called people to repentance, Jesus came to facilitate repentance. “God exalted (Christ) to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.” Acts 5:31
Right now I have these big lumps of grumpiness in my heart. I’m not sure where they come from, I wake up with them. I try to work on them but they are unwieldy. They’re with me all day like a canker sore. And it’s so hard to keep them from affecting my behavior.
It is helpful to see the resulting sin as obstacles standing in the way of the life I should have, trees blocking out the light God wants to shine in my life. God wants there to be more blessings in my life! I have to remove the obstacles.
So I have to struggle and strive for repentance. More importantly, I have to pray that God will grant me repentance, show me the way, because right now I’m not sure exactly how to do this.
And then the light will shine in. I’ve been working on opening up the closed fist of my heart. Repentance is the blessing that opens up my heart, exposing new vistas of inner soil that can thrive through God.