Rhythms of Repentance

IMG_2626

Well, we are officially into this new year – into 2018. Our Christmas trees are down and long forgotten (Can you believe it was only a month ago that we were celebrating Christmas!?); we are making reservations for Valentines dates and Spring Break vacations. Woohoo! We have enjoyed snow and now we are over snow and we are ready for skirts and sandals and sun sun sun.

If you’ve been following along, we’ve written our obituary and we’ve written our resolutions. This month hopefully you and me were able to establish a few rhythms into our daily life to accomplish our big resolutions and to live like we only have this one life. The thing is, throughout the last thirty days, we have either subjected ourselves to the “pain of discipline or the pain of disappointment”*… depending on if we chose to stick to what we wrote down in the first place.

I hope that you resolved this year to practice repentance, and then included it into the rhythm of your day. I hope this because repentance is the sort of thing that matters a lot and the sort of action that we really need to begin with.

I shared with you that one of my resolutions this year is to read well, and that I am reading through the Bible in a year.

With thoughts of repentance and the desire to live into the the life Christ has given me in new ways this year, I was reading Matthew 4 and this is what the Word says :

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – verse 17*

This is Jesus’ message, the first thing He says as He begins His early ministry – He commands all who can hear Him to repent. Turn from yourself and your sin and make the full turn to Jesus. Why? He says “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (or, here).” The Kingdom of Heaven! is the reason and motivation that Jesus gives. The Kingdom of Heaven is to stir our heart’s affections, to cause our eyes to glance His way, to seek His Kingdom, to fix our eyes on Jesus. To live this way – to live seeking and seeing the Kingdom – we have got to repent.

The Kingdom of heaven is life and love and inclusion and satisfaction and being with our Creator and Savior forever. It’s all of our heart’s desires met in one place, in The One, and it’s for all who believe in Him. Heaven is for all who repent.

When we begin to practice repentance we get to enjoy foretastes of His Kingdom – of love and peace and rest and delight and life, abundant life.

So, how? How do we turn?

Well. for me –

When I realize I don’t remember His words, I repent.

When I notice I am forging through, shouldering my way to success with my own methods and ideas and what-should-works; When I notice I am not relying on Him, I repent.

When I drop the ball, drop responsibility, I repent.

When I damage relationship, I repent.

When I destroy an hour with waste and wanton, I repent and beg that He redeem the time.

When I get set in my own ways, I ask for a re-set.

When I feel like I’ve returned to my old ways, I repent. He renews.

When I am un-reason-able, I ask He make me able to reason.

Have you thought about the fact that every time you try to save face you are tripping over Grace? Did you know when we turn back from our sin and we turn to Him, He’s already right there? We run right into Him, right into His arms, right into His love, and He rights us. He’s come for us with His Cross and His resurrection and at the very moment you turn, He’s there time and time and time again. For you, and for me, and for all who believe. He gives us Grace and He saves our face, our very lives.*

When we forget, God remembers. He comes and re-members us.*

When we remove ourselves from Him, He comes and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.*

When we’ve freaking lost it, He radically comes and finds us.*

This is the. good. news. A new year and a new set of resolutions is Not. But, the message that Jesus came and Jesus preached “Repent!” because the Kingdom of God is here Is. The reality that the Kingdom of God can be experienced just a little bit on this side of the sun is the good news for our souls. The fact that one day when this whole thing is over, and we are on the other side of the sun, those who believe are gonna live in His Home with Him forever; this is the good news for you and me. And girl — get this. To get it, to come in, to live in this real-new, all you have to do is repent.

This is good news. This is your new life.

*Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life / Matthew 4:17, ESV / There is a children’s book entitled Because I Love You by Max Lucado that tells a story about a Maker who builds a wall to protect his children, but includes a hole to provide His children the choice to love him. When one of his children climbs through the hole, past His presence, He immediately begins the rescue. This is God our Maker and Jesus our Savior and we are that child who has climbed out of His protection, and He comes to save us. / Psalm 103:12 / Matthew 18:12-14

goodness gracious

Part of my 'come to Jesus morning' included a walk through our neighborhood. I was so smitten by the Lord with this happy yellow home adorned with sunshine and beautiful flowers - scattered beams of His glory. Breathtaking.

does the goodness of life every just – overwhelm – you?

I know that hardships rock our souls like big waves on the ocean’s shore.
I know that daily trials can drain our hearts dry.
Harsh words can rub salt in wounds.
Daily in and outs pull and tug for our attention when what we want is to strive for the better reality.

But does the goodness – the simple pleasures, the big sky, the kind smile, the sweet songs, the rain storms, the good friends, the yummy, hot meal, the hug from a parent – ever overwhelm you?

I woke up the other day, repenting. It was a moment of true honesty. I didn’t realize – I wasn’t meaning to, but I was full of anxious thoughts at any given moment. It all – the it all of life – was all caught up and stuck in my head. I wrote to do lists. I planned out the week in my pretty agenda. I made sure I had the month together in my iPhone’s iCal. I had succumbed to all of the other little things, just like our sweet friend, Jesus’ sweet friend, Martha in Scripture.

These anxious thoughts – it was not some constant state of anxiety, it was not an overt worry that was overtaking my life. I was enjoying. I was savoring. I was, sometimes. But other times, I went into, as Tyler tenderly calls it, work mode. I was trying to be efficient to do ALL of my long, ever-growing to do list in what little, volatile time I had. And I kept it all crammed in my little head.

So the other day, I woke up and repented. of my anxious thoughts. of thinking I was the grown up. of thinking I had to have it all together, I had to make it work. I had to get it all done. It’s not that now I am free to be lazy, free to let it all go, free to be selfish. Laziness and let-it-go attitude and selfishness is slavery. Just like anxious thoughts. I do not want to trade one slavery for another.
I gave up my anxious thoughts for freedom in Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is my all in all.
I gave up anxious thoughts for these thoughts :

I am His child.
He takes care of me.
He orders my day. He is the God of Order, the God of the Day. He is God.
I am to enjoy Him. I am to enjoy His gifts to me, namely, Tyler, my son, my family and my friends.
I am to steward well His gifts to me.
I am to walk in His way, I am to know and believe and live in His truth, I am to live in His life. Christ is Life, the hope of glory.
I am to live, redeeming the time, not sucking out of life all of the time and energy and effort that I can put forth in a day, thinking when my head hits the pillow, wow I am exhausted. I am spent. Instead, I am to lie down, resting in His sweet sovereignty and goodness, His protection and provision, contented, happy, redeeming even the gift of sleep.
I am to say “Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

So often we want to change what we do. But the Lord often is calling us to a changed mind.
Scripture calls us to transformed thoughts by the renewing of our mind, through the washing of the water of His word.
Scripture says “blessed in the man who meditates on the Word of God.” This is for women, too. This is for me.

And I can testify, after repenting, after a come to Jesus morning, after bathing in His precious Word, in His precious fount filled with blood flowing from Emmanuel’s veins, I am standing as His child, filled with His Spirit, His mind, His heart. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And I am His, and He is mine. And life is worth the living because He lives.