19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, - Acts 3:19-20
If we're being completely honest with ourselves, we could all admit our struggle with the sin-confess-repeat cycle — we try and fail, we fall and get up again, only to fall again and feel so discouraged. Paul reminds us this struggle is as old as time, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). How those words resonate with me! It is from this frustration and pain that eventually we cry out to God that we want to change....and we can change with a repentant heart.
No matter how long we've been trapped in a pattern of defeat, listening to the enemy's accusations, we can change. But it isn't easy. The problem is far too many people only invest enough for a surface level change, but that does nothing to glorify God, and only ends up throwing us back into the pit of sin.
We see our impatience or sharp words, we know we are holding on to a hurt and not releasing in forgiveness, we recognize that we have once again put our own needs over our time with God, so we confess it. At best, we'll say the words of confession in a prayer because we know we should, moving past it quickly to get to our requests....but this isn't repentance. You see, this is only confessing behavior. Be careful - confessing behavior will never bring about a true change.
Repentance is about confessing what lies deep in your heart - the sin or stronghold that is causing the sinful behavior. Repentance is a brokenness that comes from recognizing how our sin separates us from our God and Father. Repentance happens only as we sit with Him, allowing Him to reveal to us the deeper underlying cause of our surface level sin, and being broken as we come to a understanding of how He sees our sin. When you get to that deeper sin or stronghold, and you are broken over your sin, that's when you will break the sin-confess cycle and see a real transformation of your heart.
Don't just confess your sin of impatience - dig deeper and figure out why you're impatient. He will reveal it to you. Are you not getting your way? Or are you fearing the response of man because someone is causing you to be late? Think deeply about why you chose those harsh words, or why it is so hard for you to let go of a hurt. Is it because of a deeper hurt in your life? Are you protecting a dark place in your heart that needs to be brought into the light? Press down on the reasons you continue to prioritize your busy schedule over time with Him. Don't simply confess it and move on - ask yourself why you have put things before Him. Is it because you haven't truly surrendered a part of your heart to Him?
We can find freedom from the accusations and lies in our minds, the chains will fall and the bondage can be broken if we choose to repent. I love the promise in this verse - that if we repent, we will find times of refreshing. What a beautiful thought after an exhausting season of trials. If we find ourselves overwhelmed in life by all that we're up against, or all that we have to do, it's time to take a seat and search our hearts for where we need to repent.
Trials afford us that opportunity. If you're walking through something difficult, you can be confident God has something in this for you, there is something He wants to reveal to you. Even if the trial you're under is not your fault, or is the direct result of someone else's choices, He's allowing it because there is a need for repentance somewhere in your heart.
Sitting on my couch for 2 weeks recovering from surgery allows plenty of time of reflection. It's truly a gift in that it's allowing me to dig deeper into all different parts of my heart. Anybody who knows me knows I don't sit idle well. I love my quiet time with God in the morning, but then I am a doer. Most days I have an agenda before I even lift my head, and I've wrestled for years over the fact that my sense of worth comes from checking every item off my list.
So what does God do with someone who doesn't sit still well? He knocks them on their butt and takes away their ability to accomplish much of anything. This time is a gift because it's allowing me to dig deeper into this places in my heart that I've guarded for years, hidden under the behavior, and to find repentance for the brokenness in my strongholds. I just love His plan, and His constant desire to pursue us and grow us despite our ability to avoid it at all cost.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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