15 April 2008

Repentance and Remediation

When you squeeze a sponge and dirty water comes out of it, it's not the pressure on the sponge that made the water dirty. The dirt was already there. In the last few days I have been poked, prodded and squeezed, revealing the content of my heart. It's not been pretty.

I can offer a lot of excuses to try and rationalize the misery I have been in and most of them would sound plausible. I have been feeling poorly. I have cabin fever. I have not been active in the Body. I have been unemployed, my finances have been stretched.....and the list continues. The reality though is that my flesh has been driving my life.

It didn't happen all at once or with an announcement of its intentions. No, sin is an insidious evil and like the San Francisco fog it creeps in looking enticing and mysteriously beautiful . Then, while you are admiring it, it blinds you. Lovingly, God sounds the foghorn and if you're wise, you'll heed the warning before you crash on the rocks.

While thinking that I needed to evaluate blogging and whether I should put more, less or any effort into it, what I was really doing was griping about God's providence. I don't like the content of my life. I am not experiencing major trials. I am not suffering for want of a home, food or place to have my soul nourished. I am, none the less, a malcontent. I have been petulant and haphazard about everything that I do, which is a pitifully small list of things. You see, I am an adrenaline junkie. I don't like that I have oodles of time on my hands. In fact, I pretty much resent the heck out of it. So, I haven't used the time to my benefit or anyone else's. I am pouting.

I have always been a doer. I have never been in such a predicament in my life. I can't seem to find suitable employment or service. My health has been horrid. I have a disability in my hands that makes doing manual things difficult. I have been wrestling with God. He has pinned me to the mat and I don't much care for it.

Monday I was on the ragged edge. I felt swells of anger and resentment, frustration and despondency. I wanted nothing to do with God. That is a scary place to be. When I realized that, I knew I was in deep trouble. I had cried my eyes mostly shut and given myself a migraine. There was only one sensible thing to do. I needed to hear God's Word. I went to Desiring God and downloaded a series of sermons on Battling Unbelief. I started at the beginning and listened to each one. Over and over again I listened. I opened the Bible program on my computer and did my best to follow along as Piper called my sin exactly what it was and correctly identified the root cause; unbelief. I read from Psalm 37 as he pointed out the sin and folly of envy.

There are few options available to believers who find themselves beset with the sin of unbelief. I knew I could ignore the Holy Spirit and further endanger my soul or I could repent. It's not a tough decision to make, repentance isn't hard. It's the remediation that is necessary afterward that is difficult. God made us creatures of habit and when our habits are good, it works for us. When our habits are bad, they work against us. When we repent and turn from something, we must turn toward something else. Knowing what to turn toward was agonizing for me.

I believe it is healthy to be uncomfortable when you are not doing what you should be doing. It is our discomfort and pain that moves us. I also knew I had to repent of the sin of envy. I was envious of people who had something to do, who had ministries- whether within their homes, church fellowships or businesses. I knew I had to repent of impatience, God's timing is perfect. I could think of a ton of things to repent of but not the suitable replacement. In Ephesians, Paul tells the believers, "Formerly you were.... and now you are...." He tells them to take off the old man and put on the new. What am I to put on?

With the intentions of going to Psalm 37 to be convicted some more about my sinful envy, I stumbled into Psalm 46 and of course this jumped from the page. "Cease {striving} and know that I am God;" Immediately I thought of all the times I have been encouraged to be still and wait. I had an employer once that voiced his frustration with my performance. He said I drove him crazy because I would do a fabulous job at ten things I wanted to do instead of facing the one task given to me that I didn't care for. He was right. I have just spent two years trying desperately to do what I would like to do instead of being still and waiting for what God would have me do. I have avoided spiritual (and physical) house cleaning and God has far more tenacity than I can muster. He doesn't have a problem waiting for me. My sanctification is going to be completed and the Lord will see it done exactly the way He wants it accomplished. I need to be still and cultivate contentment.

When you are in need repentance and remediation, it is best to go straight to the One who gives both- grabbing with both hands the grace and mercy available in abundance. It is only His grace and mercy that can turn envy to contentment. It is by consuming the Word and asking that fools become wise; and it is only yielding to His Spirit within us that can allow us to be still before Him.

Isaiah 30:15 a For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, "In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength."(NAS)

As for blogging, for now it is good for me. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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