From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19
As I watched the rain continue to pour down, the more frustrated I became. It was the early morning, and I still had bedhead and bad breath. All I wanted was to get a few more minutes underneath the covers. Meg, our puppy, had different plans, which mostly involved running through the puddles and rolling around in the muddy grass.
I called her in. She took one glance at me and continued to play. My tone grew increasingly frustrated. Meg would get close to the door, see me and then scurry away. She eventually realized the mess she made and that dad was beyond upset. After numerous failed attempts reminding her that she was a bad girl, I tagged in my wife to see if she could get our filthy fur ball in the house.
Loving and kind, she knelt down and sweetly said, "Come here, my beautiful girl." And just like that, Meg ran into her arms. As she cleaned Meg up, Jenn gave me the side eye, along with a smirk, as if to say, "how hard was that?"
I learned a few valuable lessons that day. First, Jenn is by far the more superior puppy parent. Second, tone of voice matters. And finally, and most importantly, our perception of God influences our willingness to deal with our mess and embrace repentance.
Which parent did Meg respond to: the angry father who told her she had messed up and was in trouble or the loving mother who got down to her level, spoke of her worth, and welcomed her home?
When we view God as a harsh judge or a disappointed parent who believes we're nothing but a screw-up, we will resist, avoid or stand our ground. On the other hand, if we think God is merciful, forgiving and wants what is best for us, we will see repentance in a different light.
We're all prodigals who went our own way while God is a loving father looking at the horizon waiting to welcome us home. The goodness of God draws us to repentance. His kindness beckons back a return. Christ extends to us all a generous call to return where we belong. His goodness, and not our guilt, drives true repentance. Coming home unleashes God's grace on us.
Even though He's kind, it doesn't mean our transformation process is always comfortable. Meg resisted getting wrapped up in a towel. She protested at times and tried to wiggle free. But, she knew what came afterward - snuggle time with Jenn. The same takes place when Christ deals with our mess and transforms our character.
At times, it won't be pleasant, and we'll resist, but in the end, it's worth it because we can trust the One who made a way for us to come home. Repentance isn't a one-time decision, but an invitation to remain in the arms of a loving God.
Where do you need to embrace God's invitation to repent of your sins and struggles?
Where do you resist viewing God as loving and kind? Why does this place to come to mind?
God, thank you for welcoming me home. I don't deserve Your unconditional love, but You give it to me anyway. May I not resist repentance, but return to You because that is where freedom and love reside. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.