June 7, 2022 — The Progression of Repentance

“Do you remember,” Stan asked, “the other day when we talked about repentance from the standpoint of whether I really repent or just intend to repent?”

“I do remember that,” I replied. “If I just have the intent to repent, without actually repenting, I’m not going to make much progress in changing directions in my life.  [Note to Reader:  See Posting for May 26, 2022, “Is it just an intent to repent?”].

“That’s right,” Stan said, “and this morning I would like to add something I’ve found to be helpful to me in making progress in repenting.”

“Progress in repenting?” I replied. “Isn’t it just repenting or not repenting?”

“Not in my experience,” Stan said. “Way too many times in my faith walk, I have started in the direction of repenting, stopped, and ended up right back where I was. Then I repeated the process of repenting, failing, and starting over. Same thing again and again, but at least there was progress until I finally could say that I had, in fact, repented.”

“Finally changed directions,” I commented. “Any magical formula for that?”

“No magical formula,” Stan replied with a smile, “but I did discover something I found to be helpful to me.”

“I didn’t respond, so he continued. “There’s a little story I ran across some time ago that I’ve found helpful. As far as I remember, it doesn’t specifically mention repentance, but I read between the lines and think it has application to making progress with repentance.”

“Love to hear it!” I responded.

“The story begins.” Stan said, “when the author said she walked down a street, fell into a hole in the street, and it took her seemingly forever to find a way out of that hole.”

“Next,” he continued, “the author walked down the same street and fell into the same hole. Then it took her less time to get out of that hole.”

“So,” I said, “fell in the same hold twice, but the second time it didn’t take her as long to get out?”

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “After that, she walked down the same street, fell into the same hole, but got right out.”

“Got right out! Good for her. Then what?”

“She then walked down the same street, saw the same hole, and walked around it.”

“Walked around the hole so she wouldn’t fall in and have to get out. Anything else?”

“There is,” Stan replied. “The final part of the story is that she then chose to walk down a different street.”

“Walk down a different street and avoid the possibility of falling into the same old hole. Good for her!”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “And as I mentioned, while the story doesn’t specifically say it is about repentance, the lesson for me is all about listening to and following the voice of the Hoy Spirit regarding streets I choose to walk down, along with the holes into which I fall and continue to fall. Listening to the voice that leads me in a different direction to avoid the same old thing. To me, that’s the essence of the progression of repentance.”

“Progression of repentance?”

“Yeah,” Stan responded. “It’s real easy to condemn myself for failed repentance, but it is essential that I not end my repenting efforts with the first failure, or even those failures that come later, but to measure the progress that comes from my listening and following the Holy Spirit.  If I do that, there will come a time I can look back and rejoice that I am walking down God’s street, not the street of self, the world, the flesh, and the devil. God’s street has no holes!”

_______________________________

Bible verses to consider:

Repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.  Acts of the Apostles 26:20.

Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with your repentance. Matthew 3:8.

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 3:10.

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.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of repentance, both for eternal purposes and for while you keep me on this side of eternity. Through your free and gracious provision, you granted me the opportunity to repent from my separation from you so I know I will spend eternity in your presence when it’s time. As well, you help me in repenting while I stay on this side of eternity so I can draw ever closer to you. Thank you, and please help me in choosing to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He leads me in avoiding the pits and the falls that so easily keep me away from you and your will. 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 will spend eternity in His presence when it’s time? If no, why? If you have repented for eternal purposes, how are you doing with the day-to-day repentance on this side of eternity? Do you find yourself often needing to repent from the same thing(s)? If so, what is that all about? If you sense the need to “walk down different streets” to avoid the same holes, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

Note: The story referred to in this devotional is loosely based on a writing by Portia Nelson.

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