“deep sorrow or contrition for a past sin”
“Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.” –Thomas Carlyle
I’m writing this as a person who messes up. A person that has told themselves, “That was the last time”, 273,000 times (at least). I know what trips me up, I know where my weaknesses are, I’ve confessed those to my husband, and most importantly I’ve confessed those to our heavenly Father. Over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.
Here’s the deal. A very long time ago we handed ourselves over to the Enemy, in the garden of Eden. We listened to the enemies deceiving words and turned from our Father. This resulted in a cosmic shift; a major fracture in our relationship with the Father.
Number one: We were given the option to worship God. He did not create robots, but instead he gave us free will to choose who or what we worship. This is why the Enemy is who he is… he wanted his own kingdom rather than the Creator’s. This topic of worship is huge. Everyone worships. What? Yes, everyone worships. Worship is not just when we sing praises to God. Worship is when we give our affections, time, thoughts, and life to something or someone. Atheists worship. It may be their job, education, sociological and economical stance, or even their family, but even they worship.
Number two: Everyone needs to repent of something. Repentance by definition means, deep sorrow, compunction, contrition for a past sin, or wrongdoing. I’ll even take it a step further and say repentance challenges us to turn from sin and return to the Father. Why? Isn’t repentance desiring reversal of wrongdoing? Then lets also let that challenge us to reverse our posture towards the Lord and return to Him. Choose to acknowledge the sin, confess it with the intention to turn from it, turn, and be healed.
Right now, take a moment and make a mental list of what you worship. It may not be a golden statue on your mantle, but it may be what others perceive of you. Maybe you worship control, your spouse, safety, sexual gratification, knowledge, health, or financial status. What do you give your money, time, thoughts, and life to? Is our Father even on this list? Okay, pause. Breathe. Listen. No one has the perfect “list”. We all have walked away from God and put other things before Him. Spoiler alert: He knows who and what you worship, and He chose the cross anyway. He knew what He was getting Himself into when he committed to His rescue plan for creation. There is no point where God says, “That’s it! I give up on you, you will never get this right!”. He is committed to your redemption. He has shown you mercy and grace, where you are, as you are.
If we are honest with ourselves, repentance is a constant action and prayer. Acknowledge when your back is to the Lord, and make a conscious effort to turn around. Let me tell you a quick story. The Lord gave me a cool illustration for this. A few months ago I decided to go for a walk outside by myself. I began walking with my back facing our home. After just a few minutes, I felt anxiety rise up in my chest. I realized how vulnerable I was out there by myself. I felt very alone, unguarded, far from my home, and frankly, like a panzee. I quickly turned around ready to return to safety, only to see how close I actually was to the house. It was there all along… safety was close by, I just had to turn around and see it.
Sometimes we feel very far away from God because of our sin, or because we aren’t the perfect Christian we all pretend to be, or because we have never given Him the time of day. Regardless of where you’ve been or where you are right now, turn, and see the Father, our Home, waiting right there for you. Run home.
This leads me to the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son. Prodigal is a fancy word. It means wasteful and reckless. This parable is found in Luke 15: 11-31. From the NIV it reads,
“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Talk about mercy, grace, forgiveness, and celebration. This is the picture our God and His love for us, and it’s overwhelming! Let us “come to our senses”, return home, and celebrate the goodness of our Father.
Notice He says, “But while he was still a long way off…”. Pause with me for a second. Even when you are feeling so far from God, He has compassion on you, and longs to celebrate you returning home to Him. Don’t let the enemy convince you that you’re too far gone. There’s no sin too deep, no life too screwed up, and no heart too hardened for God to heal.
He hears every prayer and knows every heart. Repent, be healed, and spend this life with the peace of Christ within you. God loves to transform lives and to see his children filled with peace and joy.
Jeremiah 15:19 “If you repent, I will restore you…”