December 31, 2021` — The Alphabet Book

“It’s interesting to me,” Stan commented one morning, “how, if we are open to seeing, God has all sorts of help for our walk of faith.”

“You have something specific in mind?” I asked, knowing he probably did.

“Yeah,” he replied, “one of my neighbors told me something that happened to him just the other day when he was looking through an old children’s book.”

“What was going on?” I asked.

“His first grandchild lives fairly close, at least close enough that his daughter has him watch the child a couple of afternoons a week.”

“It’s a real blessing to be able to be a part of a child’s life that way,” I commented.

“A blessing for both of them, the child and the grandparent,” Stan replied. “And what my neighbor told me turned out to be another blessing for his faith walk.”

“”How so?”

“It seems the child is getting old enough to begin to learn the alphabet on the way to reading,” Stan said, “and my neighbor was looking for an old book he had read to his children when they were about the same age.”

“What book was that?”

“It was an alphabet book,” Stan said, “something about reading each letter and connecting it to a picture in the book. Apparently it went something like, ‘Big A, little A, what begins with A?” Then there’s a picture of an apple. And that goes on with each letter of the alphabet, to a banana, cat, dog, etcetera.”

Continuing, he added, “My neighbor found the book in a box in the basement and was looking through it remembering his children sitting on his lap while he read it to them.”

“Nice memory,” I said. “But you indicated there was something about his faith walk. What was that?”

“The letter ‘R,’ Stan replied. “My neighbor said that when he got to R and was reading, ‘Big R, little R, what begins with R?’ he was struck by the word ‘repentance’.”

“Repentance?” I said. “In what way?”

“Big R repentance,” Stan said, “and little R repentance.”

“You’re going to have to help me here, Stan,” I responded.  “Two types of repentance?  Big R and little R?”

“That’s what my neighbor said,” Stan replied, “and the more I have thought about it, I think he may well have been in tune with the Holy Spirit on this one.  Let’s look at it this way: Big R repentance can be seen as repenting from being separated from God for eternity by accepting His free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him when it’s time.”

“You’re right,” I said, “that the big one — the big step that settles everything for eternity. Without that big repentance, nothing else matters. Seems to me that’s kind of like what the apostle Peter was writing about when he wrote that God does not want any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

“I agree,” Stan replied. “That’s the big one!”

“What about the little R repentance?” I asked.

“Seems to me,” he replied, “that’s the day-to-day, hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment  repentance that is essential for a closer walk with God on this side of eternity.”

‘The continual u-turns when I’m going in the wrong direction,” I said. “Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “Those continual u-turns of repentance are essential for me in pursuing an ever-closer and ever-deepening relationship with God in and through the indwelling Holy Spirit of the Risen Christ.”

“So,” I said, “would it be fair to say that the big R repentance is a one-time thing, but the little R repentance is something done over and over?”

“That’s what my neighbor said he saw,” Stan replied, “and I think I agree with him. Big R, little R, what begins with R? Everything of importance begins with repentance!”


Bible verses to consider:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4.

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4.

And I gave her (the church in Thyatira) time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Revelation 2:21.

In the same way, I tell you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.  Luke 15:10.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your free and gracious provision of the finished work of Christ on the cross.  That provision allowed me to accept it and change forever the direction of my destination in eternity.  Thank you for those who brought me to the truth of your salvation and redemption so I could repent from my separation from you.  Thank you, too, for the presence of the Holy Spirit who leads me in repenting on an ongoing basis as I work out the salvation you worked in.  I confess that too often I choose not to listen to His voice, and I choose not to change the direction I am going away from you on this side of eternity.  Please forgive that foolishness.  Please help me in following every step of your lead as you lead me to repent and choose to draw ever closer to you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you repented from your separation from God so you know you will spend eternity in His presence when your time here is done? If no, why? It’s a free gift that only needs to be accepted. If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with the repentance on this side of eternity that will draw you ever closer to God in a deepening personal relationship? If you sense changes are necessary in that, are you willing to make those changes? If so, how is that going to happen? Do you agree with Stan that everything begins with repentance? Why or why not?

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