True repentance

You have got to be kidding me” I whispered under my breath. I had just been called into the room by Dave after finally getting the kids down for their afternoon nap, and as I walked through the door I could see my husband’s obvious distress.

In a couple of days Dave was due to fly to Nigeria but his visa was not coming through and despite his every effort to get it sorted out, there was nothing for us to do but wait and pray… something that is a lot easier said than done. It was a last minute trip, and with the church’s first public service the day after his return and many assignments due, we had both been stretched to our limits to get everything done on time and the stress of it all was becoming a little much.

I walked over to Dave, who was nearly in tears, took a deep breath and sat down “…are you ok?” Obviously not, but midway through sharing his heartfelt struggle with me I had heard enough, and I began to unfold on him what he later described a “man up speech” that would have made Dr Phil’s reality therapy look soft. He commented that a speech was not really what he needed right now and left for his next meeting. In all honesty I was happy for him to leave, I was not enjoying the company of a stressed out person when I was so exhausted emotionally and physically already. He wanted compassion, love, help, and that day I gave none, I simply felt I had nothing to give.

I knew I had to make it right and God told me to apologise. I argued little with God, not only because I had little energy to argue and have learned that its more productive banging your head against the wall than arguing with God, but I knew that my first calling was of a wife – a helpmate, and I needed to put that first. I had to ask God for the love, strength and compassion I needed for this calling He had given me, and I began to write my text apology. At first it sounded something like “sorry I wasn’t very helpful just then but I’m so tired, another crying person in the house is beyond what I can handle when we have a toddler and a baby…” and then I heard the voice of the preacher Creflo Dollar ring through my head “real repentance comes without excuse.” Was I really repentant?

Just like Eve (Genesis 3) I was trying to justify my sin by blaming something else, and it was not going to help the situation, or my heart move towards reconciliation. I had some time with God and allowed Him to sort my heart out, and the sorrow over my sinful attitude towards Dave made the text become completely different; I really was sorry and I really did want to make it right, no excuses.

I learned a lot about repentance that day; it does indeed come without excuse, justification, or blame-shifting. If we really want God to make our lives right then we need to do more than just apologise with our mouths when we mess up, but we need to confess from our hearts with honesty about the sin taking place in our lives and allow Him to transform us so that we can walk on His path.

Is there something you need to truly repent about in your life today? Next time you need to say sorry to God or someone in your life, do so without excuse and allow God to transform you and the situation.
Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matthew 3:2

Are we prepared?

Pre-season is almost coming to a close at Living Temple, and as we prepare for the upcoming years together I think over a saying a wise godly friend once told me “everything is a prelude to something else.” As unspiritual as it may seem sometimes feel mapping out a plan for the road ahead (with God’s guidance of course) the bible reveals to us that God prepares eternity in advance, and no matter how far we look ahead I am reminded that we are still running far behind Him.

For example, we read in the bible the account of Joseph, who was given a glimpse of His future through dreams when he was only a boy- a future which saved many people, including his own family. Although everything didn’t go quite as he expected, (as he got almost killed, sold into slavery, lied about, forgotten and tested), despite all his trials and hardship, Gods plan had prevailed and His dreams came true. He makes the statement to his brothers “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

God not only designed and gifted Joseph for his moment of greatness, but in hindsight we see He also used every person Joseph encountered to prepare him, He moulded Him and grew Him with each and every passing day- God had it all worked out, and Joseph simply had to trust and obey. We too have had glimpses of what we feel God is going to do at Living Temple, and now we are doing our best to plan for the way ahead in the light of what we have seen, but we also acknowledge that God’s plan is greater. More than preparing sermons, a team, a venue or even finances, we are preparing our hearts to be obedient no matter what, to trust no matter what, and to do it with the peace that comes with knowing God’s will is going to prevail.

Ask yourself: ‘Am I prepared to let God do whatever He likes, no matter the cost?’

Some people struggle preparing their hearts in this way and question the validity of God’s sovereignty or goodness due to the evil we see in this world. But I challenge you to take a look back on your life, for as I look back on mine I can’t help but see, like Joseph, the value the tough times have brought me due to His hand using all things for my good, and the good of His kingdom. I see God always does what he promises, He is always good and He can even bring joy, peace and laughter in the face of trials. God has an amazing way of using His sovereignty to prepare the right people in the right way for the right time and the right place, and all we are left with to do is prepare our hearts for Him, to trust Him and take up the opportunity in His strength.

Thank you God that you never waste a moment, that you have prepared me for this time and place before time even began. Help me to look on my past with a grateful heart, to allow You to use every part of it, the good, the bad and the ugly, and like Joseph even forgive those who have intended me harm. I trust you are good and that you are able, so I commit every second of my future to the plans you have in store for me, and I choose to walk in your peace. Amen

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28