It is one thing to write about repentance, but another to live it. Here’s an example… Some years ago, Dianne and I purchased a used motorcycle from a friend whom we call Rodeo Bob. I was tickled to have the machine, but this pales in comparison to a lesson I learned while in pursuit of purchasing the bike.
I blew the negotiation in royal fashion. Praise God Bob understands my fleshly foibles and is a man of grace.
Bob and Dianne and I met on a Saturday morning to discuss the bike. I was not certain I wanted a motorcycle and Bob was not 100% sure he wanted to be without a motorcycle. We agreed to take a few days to pray and think. I promised to call Bob on Monday.
Two days later I called to give Bob the good news that he had sold his hobby to us. Problem was, Rodeo Bob was still uncertain. He asked if he could call on Wednesday with his final decision. “I just love this bike,” were his parting words.
Two hours before bedtime on Wednesday I had not heard from Bob and was anxious. So, I decided to “help” the decision making process with a call to Bob.
I got Bob’s answering machine and left a message telling him how excited we were about the bike and hoped he had good news for us when he called me back. (As you already know, Bob called and sold us the bike. But that is beside the point.)
After I hung up from agreeing to purchase the bike, I recognized what I had done. I took advantage of Bob.
To not sell the bike would require that he disappoint his friends. That’s not fair! But worse yet, I acted independently toward God. Instead of trusting Him to give Bob the same guidance He gave us, I assumed responsibility for His responsibility and crafted a narrow response path for Bob to get what I wanted.
I felt genuine conviction! I took advantage of a friend and I used my own strength and capability to play God’s role and get what I desired for myself. I failed and blew it with two significant people: God and Rodeo Bob.
I called Bob, confessed, and apologized. I offered to let him out of the deal. He was incredibly gracious!
And then I went to the den and fell on my knees before God confessing my independence. I told Him I was sorry for my sin—a major infraction by my estimation. I knelt alone in the dark den feeling shame for my behavior, wondering how to regain my standing with God, and fearing the consequences of my actions. Theologically, I knew I was forgiven, but experientially and emotionally I was haunted by the certitude of, “Sorry isn’t good enough.”
In something of a panic, I racked my mind to figure what I could do to restore the lost favor—but more importantly, to hedge against the consequences of falling into the hands of an angry God. (After all, you can get killed riding a motorcycle!)
But in the midst of my anxiety and condemnation I heard the unmistakable voice of my Father in my thoughts. Pres, sorry is good enough for Me. I don’t care what you think or feel about it. I know your heart. Yes, you blew it, but you have not fallen out of my favor. That is not possible! You know that! You teach it all the time! You have fallen out of favor with yourself. Don’t live there and fail to trust Me again. I accept you—totally—and it is time you based your self-acceptance by My standard, not by your performance. Have a good time with the bike.
I jumped up and called Bob (the third time in fifteen minutes). “Bob, you won’t believe what happened. I just discovered that sorry is good enough. Whether the bike ever makes it to my garage or not, the negotiation has been worth it!”
Have you realized it is not possible to fall out of favor with your Heavenly Father?
No matter what you do, while there are consequences to sin, one of them is not losing your standing with Him.