Repentance (metanoia)- change of mind, repentance, the state of changing any or all of the elements composing ones life: attitude, thoughts, and behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living.
I heard God say, “apologize.”
I knew what He meant because He had been peeling back layers of my heart for the past two years until I was in a place where I could see where I had gone astray, I could admit where I had drifted, I could acknowledge where pride had become my driving force.
I sat across from one of the people I respect the most (after my husband), and I began to list all of the things I had allowed pride to do in and through me. I apologized for the hurt I caused, the gaps I left and the drift that I allowed to happen in me. It actually surprised me because I had apologized in the past, but not like this, this time was different because this time it was repentance.
For the past two years I felt this weight on my shoulders that felt like I was wearing a wet blanket and no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it. The weight made me angry, confused, bitter and frustrated. I felt like I was stuck in this cycle that I couldn’t escape, until I repented. Immediately (even as hard as it was to actually admit what I had been guilty of), the weight lifted off me and I felt like I had stepped out of this thick fog. I could see, hear and think with clarity again.
I was reading through the book of Matthew and I was confused by the statement John the Baptist made, “I baptize you with water for repentance” (Matthew 3:11). Wait…when I think of baptism I think of someone publicly proclaiming their faith in Christ but, repentance? Why would John the Baptist baptize them for repentance and why was that so important?
When we have the posture of a repentant heart everything that held us captive is removed. We are able to see, think and hear clearly. The way we were going that was leading us towards death and destruction no longer seems like the “right way” for us to go anymore. In Isaiah 40:3-5 it says,
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
(**Fun fact, Verse 3 is actually a prophecy of John the Baptist.)
These verses are very poetic and strong. I believe what they are referring to is our hearts posture. Before repentance we are “crooked” there are “valleys” “mountains” “rough ground” and it’s “rugged”. Before our eyes are opened and we turn to Jesus our hearts are a mess but what repentance does is make the road we are traveling on, straight. All terrain becomes level ground and our hearts are transformed to a condition for Jesus to plant seeds that will reap a harvest that will glorify Him. When we repent there will actually be fruit that others will see because our attitudes, decisions, language and perspective changes.
John was getting peoples hearts in a posture of repentance so when Jesus arrived they were ready to receive what He had to say to them. John baptized with water for repentance but Jesus came and baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Their hearts needed to be in a place where they could receive what Jesus had for them.
Repentance is so much more than “I’m sorry.” When someone says “I’m sorry” they may not mean it. When someone repents their hearts have changed, they are aware of their sin or the direction they were going and they are no longer going that way. The change is almost immediately noticeable.
Paul says in Romans 2:4, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (NIV)
I also like the Message version of this verse, “Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.”
God is kind to us, and sometimes in our human perspective His kindness appears as though He’s unkind. He will discipline us, because He is kind. He will remove things from our lives that are causing us harm, because He is kind. He will make us wait for prayers to be answered, because He is kind. He will close doors, because He is kind. And when we are in desperate need of repentance His kindness, in whatever form that takes, leads us to that place and sometimes He uses a firm hand to do it.
God wanted to deal with the pride that had built up in my heart, and because He loves me and is kind, He removed me from positions of influence, He closed doors before me, He sat me down, He allowed me to be isolated because my hope had been in me and not in Him, He had to take me to a place where I was broken and humbled, because He is kind.
I can look back on that season with a grateful heart because He loves me enough to protect me from me, and He loves me enough to remove the things that took me away from Him. The things He has created me to do while I am here on earth were not more important to Him then the condition of my heart. He wanted my heart and it’s His kindness that lead me to place of repentance.
If you are currently in a season that seems isolating, you feel like God is against you because doors aren’t opening, you feel heavy and unsettled, may I gently suggest you examine the condition of your heart. Ask God if somewhere along the line your heart has drifted and He is firmly redirecting you. Repentance is necessary for us to get back on course. God is for you, He loves you and He wants all of your heart.
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