The words sound empty and hollow, even to me.
I’m on autopilot, saying the things I know would get me an A in an English course,
but mean nothing to the one I’m talking to.
I say sorry for the millionth time,
and for the millionth time we both know I would do it again.
Maybe even tonight.
Repeat. Repent. Repeat. Repent.
Please, God, break this shell. Get through to me.
Forbid me. Punish me.
I was going through an old journal, and found this entry I wrote about prayer when I was in high school. I was struggling with an addiction at the time and felt like repentance was losing its meaning. I would apologize, agonize, and then fall into the same temptation again. The problem was that I had a flawed definition of repentance and I was trying to break an addiction by myself.
The word “repentance” is metanoia in the Greek, which means to change one’s mind. Repentance is not self-punishment. The punishment has already been dealt, on the body of Jesus. The atonement has already been made. Repentance is to turn toward Jesus, to recognize the power of what He did on the cross, and to walk in His plan for you. For me, it was admitting that I couldn’t do it on my own and trusting that He had something better for me.
Reading through this journal entry years later, it’s hard to read the opinion I had of God. Punish me. Forbid me. That’s not the way God works. He doesn’t punish, because the punishment was already given. He doesn’t forbid, because part of repentance is making a choice. The beautiful truth is that God literally loves you into repentance. He doesn’t just tell you not to do something; He replaces your worldly desires with His desire for you. The finished work of Jesus Christ is the only thing that has the power to destroy an addiction that has your heart.
I love the song “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger, and I encourage you to just meditate on these lyrics. Let it sink in how deeply God loves you. God loved each of us enough to send his own “beloved” son (Matthew 3:17) to be tortured and killed for people who did not ask for a Savior, who did not want a Rescuer, and who were too proud to think they needed a Sacrifice.
I loved you before you knew it was love
And I saw it all, still I chose the cross
And you were the one that I was thinking of
When I rose from the grave
Now rid of the shackles, My victory’s yours
I tore the veil for you to come close
There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore
You’re not far from home