“True repentance always terminates on Jesus. It does not wallow in self-loathing or delight in self-flagellation. Rather, it allows an honest sense of our sinfulness to drive us toward the depth of Christ’s mercy in the gospel.” (taken from Journey to the Cross – Readings & Devotions for Lent)
How many times have I come face to face with my own sin and thought, “I will try harder next time to be obedient”? Or how often have I looked over past failures and sins with guilt and shame thinking if I could just have a do over. If I could just go back I would do things differently.
The truth is having a “do over” will not change anything. The reality of my sinfulness tells me that chances are great that I would do the same thing over again. Why? Because I am hoping to change things in my own strength. More often than not when we want a “do over” it’s about us and what we did or did not do. We are focusing on how we might go back and change things and do them right or better this time.
But, what we fail to remember is the sinfulness of our hearts. Hearts that are prone to wonder. Hearts that are bent toward our own selfish desires. Hearts that are often filled with ourselves and not God.
No, having a do over will not change anything. But what will change things is an honest evaluation of our heart. We change things when we allow our weaknesses, failures, and sinfulness to turn us toward Christ, His grace, and what He did on the cross. Only when we come in humility to the cross of Christ and meet Him there can we truly see that no amount of self punishment, do overs or self induced shame will change anything. Only repentance changes our hearts. Repentance, true repentance “allows an honest sense of our sinfulness to drive us toward the depth of Christ’s mercy in the gospel.”
Today may I encourage you to take all those “do over” wishes and lay them at the foot of the cross? Ask for forgiveness. Repent of the sins that may have caused them in the first place. Repent of your tendencies to want to try to go back to ‘fix it’. Move forward, forgetting the past and allow Christ to heal you, change you and show you how you can grow through those failures. Then choose to walk in the knowledge of His grace, forgiveness and power.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Phil 3:13-15