Two Reasons Why I Do the Things I Hate (and Two Prayers of Repentance).
Sometimes my heart wavers more than I want it to, or think it should. A few days ago I had a “still-small” conversation with Jesus about how much I struggle to surrender. I wondered how it was possible to be a growing Christian of 25 years, and yet sometimes simultaneously feel like a wavering skeptic of 25 years.
Essentially, I was bringing to Jesus the problem Paul described in Romans 7:15:
For I do not understand my own actions.
For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
I'd prefer not to hear about dichotomies, like how Paul fought to be one thing and not another, or how I fight for the high road while ignoring the fact that high roads don’t exist without lower ones.
The Holy Spirit is the perfect guide because He guides us into all truth (John 16:13), not just the “truth” our ears itch for most. Through the Holy Spirit we have connection to Jesus unlike any association on the planet.
Jesus, by His Spirit, spoke to my heart two areas that have only been promoting, and cheering on, the frustrated wavering.
1. Refusing to receive the kingdom like a child. Mark 10:15: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
2. Christianity was always meant to be an outward expression of an inward joy I’m experiencing––daily. Many of the commandments Jesus gave were outward (love your neighbor, give to the poor, heal the sick, let your light shine before men) regardless of how much I’d prefer ignoring neighbors, poor, sick, men.
Only one call to action resonates proper when the Holy Spirit is speaking to me: “...Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus is so kind to lead us by the hand into repentance and restoration.
When we repent, He restores.
I prayed something like;
1. Jesus, I apologize for how easily I’m able to complicate what I was always meant to appreciate and approach like a child. Help me to be way more kid-like again, because I’m no good at child-likeness on my own.
2. Jesus, forgive me for how often I choose to live my Christian faith as an inward expression of outward distractions. Thanks for Your willingness to continue growing me, despite me.
When I fail as a follower of Jesus––minorly or miserably––when my weakness shows up seemingly more than His strength, it’s usually because I’m spending too much time focused on me and not nearly enough running back to Him.
Failure, in the Christian life, is an uncomfortable tension that each of us has to come to terms with. The sooner we repent, sincerely, the quicker we turn back toward how we were always meant to live. Free.
You and I were wired to bring God glory in approaching Him, our Father, as children holding hands open for more of Who He is and more of what He has for us.
He calls me, and He calls you, into waters often deeper than either of us can comfortably stand.
I pray we’re both able to become more like children. I pray that by the power of the Spirit, our outward expression (as the hands and feet of Jesus) would be an overflow of inward joy uncontainable.
Thank you for who you are, for the story you’re living, and for allowing me to serve you along the way.