Why Are We So Afraid of Repentance?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:7 (NLT)
18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
Acts 11:18 (NLT)
994 If you really want to be a penitent soul—both penitent and cheerful—you must above all stick to your daily periods of prayer, which should be intimate, generous and not cut short. And you must make sure that those minutes of prayer are not done only when you feel the need, but at fixed times, whenever it is possible. Don’t neglect these details. If you subject yourself totally to this daily worship of God, I can assure you that you will always be happy.
Imagine for a second that you’ve been told on the other side of a chain link fence there is 4 million dollars. That it is yours if you can get past the fence. There are ways to get through it, over it, under it, but it can be done. Those ways might include a little pain, but your mortgage is due, your card just died, and the kids are just a few years from needing money for college, and your tax due just wiped out your bank account.
You grit your teeth, determine which way will work, and get to it. After all, the peace of being debt free for a while is worth the effort.
A change of scenario, the debt is not financial. It is spiritual. Do you set your mind on the end result and embrace what it takes to get to the peace you need? Or do you stay where you are at, hounded by guilt and shame, crushed by the resentment and anxiety you feel? Yet we avoid the very blessing that would free us from all that oppresses us, all that holds us bondage.
I can understand those who do not know God’s love for them avoiding repentance, but what about those of us who do? What about those of us who teach about it, and call people to repentance? Why are we so afraid of it? Are we worried how people will react? Or are we worried we will realize how much we need repentance as well?
I chose the three readings above, in hopes that they will show that there is way to get through the fence, to find the peace we need. That even as we do, all heaven, and all those who know that peace will be rejoicing, that they will be rejoicing for us and with us. And as St. Josemaria indicates, a repentant life is one of happiness, a life of cheerfulness, a life that is abundant and worth living.
Because what is on the other side of the fence brings that joy. It is the life that is intimate with God. That lets Him bear our burdens, that lets Him rid us of the anxiety, the resentment, the guilt, the doubt, the pain. It allows us to cast off this sin which so hand us in its grasp, crushing us with its bondage.
No wonder heaven rejoices when one of us repents. (and we all need to!) It is no wonder that the early church rejoiced and praised God, singing of His glory.
Today we enter the season of lent. It is not that we shouldn’t repent daily, but it is a time of learning why, of taking the time to seriously examine our lives, and not for a season, but for life make adjustments. either ridding ourselves of that which distracts us from God, or taking on something which will make us more aware of His presence. I prefer the latter, as it helps our transformation -not because of our efforts – but because we will find His peace life-changing.
Don’t fear repentance, it is time to embrace it, for the joy set before us… is amazing.
So amazing, all heaven rejoices, as will those who love and care about you.
Cry out with faith, “Lord, have mercy!” and then rejoice that He has!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 4019-4023). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.