Story of the Day for Tuesday September 13, 2011
Two Wagon Loads
For you became saddened as God intended. . . Godly sorrow works repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. . .
2 Corinthians 7:9-10
Have you ever been driving in an unfamiliar area and slowly realized you were going the wrong direction? You may not be happy about it, but the fastest way to get to where you want to go is to turn around and go backwards.
If you refused to turn around, even though you know it is the shortest way to your destination, and stubbornly bulled your way in the wrong direction, do you know what you are? You’re an idiot, that’s what.
When we repent, we admit we’re presently moving in the wrong direction, and that the shortest way is to turn around and go backward in order to go forward. (You might want to pause here for a minute if you need some time to think about that last statement.)
Maybe repentance is not a joyful word to me because I think of the disappointment when I realize I’m going the wrong way in life. But maybe it will help if we think of the sadness as preceding the repentance.
The whole process looks like this: First, we discover that we are going the wrong way. We’re not living the way God wants us to. Now, we are sad about our failure to please God. We’re sad because we have hurt other people by our sin. And we’re sad because we have wasted our time going the wrong way and now we will have to turn around and start over.
The sadness over our sin comes first. But then the repentance is the act of turning around. Repentance is turning around to find that God forgives us and is encouraging us. This is the order the apostle Paul is teaching us. First, the believers at Corinth were saddened by the realization of their sin. Their “godly sorrow” then led them to repent. Their repentance now opened up to them the life of God’s “salvation,” – and now they have no regrets about the direction God is taking them.
We need to be careful here. Many people get the notion that repentance means we got caught sinning and now we just say we’re sorry. But we’re not sorry about our sin; we’re only sorry we got caught. But, after we say we’re sorry. . . nothing changes.
Did you ever hear the story about the farmer who goes to his priest for confession? He confesses that he stole two wagon loads of his neighbor’s hay. The priest is surprised, and simply remarks, “Two wagon loads!” The farmer then clarifies himself, “Well, I’ve only stole one wagon load so far. I plan to steal the second load tomorrow.”
Telling God we’re sorry is not a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free” card that gets God off our back so we’re free to continue botching up our life. True repentance always leads to the desire to change our ways and live as God wants us to. We may continue to flub up a million times, but each time we repent, it must be with the intent to find the right direction and go there.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)