Thursday, March 7, 2013

The need for repentance and forgiveness in our Lenten journey.

Our Lenten journey takes us down some strange paths. This special spiritual journey calls us to confront the need for repentance and forgiveness within the walls of our soul. We desire forgiveness. We struggle with repentance. Oh, talking to God about what we did and how sorry we are is a lot easier than looking someone in the face sharing what we have done, but therein lays the act of reconciliation.

If we desire to be reconciled with God, to have our relationship with God restored, we must first confess our sins. I can hear some who read this saying, “But I only need to confess my sins to God and God alone.” While that is correct, it does allow us to continue in the lifestyle that we have grown comfortable with. It is strange, but the reality is this: until there is another human being who knows what we have done we usually do not change.

Maybe that is why it is good to have a Spiritual Prayer Partner – a trusted friend who has the gift of active listening and godly insight – someone who knows everything that hides in the darkest corners of our souls and still loves us. Even better is to go to that individual which we have wronged and tell them. Isn’t this what Matthew 5:23-24 (TM) is talking about: "This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God."

Once we confess to God our sin and share it with a Spiritual Prayer Partner is completed we can continue on our Lenten spiritual journey, until then we are enslaved to our fears of being found out and there will continue to be those who have power over us. Here is a story that illustrates this keen insight:

Richard Hoefler's book Will Daylight Come? includes a homey illustration of how sin enslaves and forgiveness frees. A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to Grandma's back yard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead.

The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing. After lunch that day, Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." But Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn't you, Johnny?" And she whispered to him, "Remember the duck! So Johnny did the dishes.

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally smiled and said, "That's all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it." Again she whispered, "Remember the duck." Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing. After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, finally he couldn't stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he'd killed the duck. "I know, Johnny," she said, giving him a hug. "I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.

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