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

An Easter message

A whole nation filled with non-Christians celebrating Christmas does not surprise me too much – after all the safe arrival of any baby brings cause to celebrate, let alone the son of God. Then there is Santa (Saint Nicolas) who brings the gift of God into light, and the joy of it all can bring a smile to any face. Easter however is another story, an occasion to remember the brutal murder of the Son of God and have joy in His resurrection from the dead three days later because it means we can access the saving grace of God – it’s no wonder the Easter Bunny arrived on the scene!

The fact is, the good news of this incredible saving grace of God, His great love for us, and our own need for salvation is confronting and I struggle daily with the question “how on earth do I communicate this gospel truthfully to my 2 year old without giving him nightmares?” How do I explain that the vile torture and murder of God on a cross and His overcoming death is good news because of what it accomplishes for us? That we actually deserve the punishment given Him? That the physical torture and death was not the worst Jesus endured that day, but the wrath of God being poured out on Him? It actually draws me closer to God as I realise that it is only going to be by the Spirit of God that I can communicate this complex and overwhelming truth. It checks my heart for gratitude and understanding, after all one of the greatest problems we face is desensitisation to the reality of it all.

Why this non-Christian nation of ours would chose to make this eternity-changing celebration a national holiday is beyond me, but I am so grateful for it. May we make the most of every opportunity it brings us to share the truth, but may it also remind us to reflect on the foundation of our faith and life – the gospel (story) of Jesus Christ our God and Saviour.

This Easter I am going to try and read the passion (death) of Christ like it was the first time I read it. I’ll take communion and listen to some worship that centres on the sacrifice of God – Old School songs like “Servant King,” or today’s worship like “To Know your Name” by Hillsong. Let’s all make sure we celebrate the bittersweet truth of the gospel this Easter, don’t just let this weekend drift by – after all, it is an opportunity Christians of many nations do not have.

“When the centurion and those who were with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’ “ Matthew 27:54