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 yet was 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 to hear most. Through the Holy Spirit, we have a connection to Jesus that is unlike any association on the planet.
Jesus, by His Spirit, spoke to my heart about two areas that have only been promoting and cheering on the frustrated wavering.
1. I need to learn 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) and they are the truth, regardless of how much I’d prefer to ignore neighbors, the poor, the sick, or man in general.
Only one call to action resonates properly when the Holy Spirit is speaking to me: “...Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus is so kind as to lead us by the hand into both repentance and restoration.
When we repent, He restores.
I prayed something like:
1. Jesus, I apologize for how quickly I 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 childlikeness 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––marginally or miserably––when my weakness seems to show up 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 wrestle. The sooner we sincerely repent, 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 where 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.