Yesterday we looked at the O of GROWTH - where learning to OBEY God moment by moment is one of our steps towards Christian maturity. But what if, despite our best efforts, or through a failure in the battle of wills, we disobey... What do we do? Can we get back to where we want to be? Can we get right with God again?
The relationship between God and us has often been illustrated as a Father and child - and it no where is it better seen than the parable of the Prodigal Son.
In this story, found in Luke chapter 15, a father had two sons and one of the them - the youngest son - decided to take his share of his father's wealth - before he died- and took off for a foreign land. He choose to go his own way, take whatever he could get and do whatever he wanted, without thought so his father or family. Sound familiar? I know there have been many times in my life that I have done that - not least when I was about 20 and 'left' home by putting all of my belongings into my mum's car and driving up to the student house we owned in Belfast!! I didnt care if she needed it, or if I had hurt them, I just wanted to do what I wanted and they weren't going to tell me otherwise. Not a good period in my life :(
But as so often happens the son (and me!) got into difficulties and starts to pine for the comforts and security of home. He knows he messed up and he knows he can't expect anything, so he goes home asking to be taken in as a servant, instead of the masters son he actually is.
And we all know what happens - his father sees him coming, runs to meet him and kills the fatted calf in celebration of his son coming home. Likewise, my mum and dad welcomed me 'home' with open arms. I definitely didn't deserve it. And I don't think I have ever thanked them properly - so here now I'd like to say a big enormous THANK YOU to a set of wonderful parents who loved me through everything and all the way back again. I love you both xxx
But it's a long road back when we've done something wrong and disobeyed. A long road and a hard road - especially if we are really sorry. It causes us to be humble, to be honest and to be vulnerable. And there are some very necessary steps we need to make on our journey -
1. We need to confess our sins - out loud if possible - but as individually as possible too. We need to actually let God know that we are sorry but also what we are sorry for. I know when my kids are fighting and I try to get them to stop and apologise, they often say sorry and don't know what it's for!! To truly confess we need to get it all off our chests to God and if you can't think of anything, ask God to show you!!
2. Thank God for forgiving us - because He has - through Christ's death on the cross. He has paid our debt and taken our punishment for our sin and shame. So we are forgiven - once and for all. And it's true - because God says so :)
3. Repent - we need to actually change... It's not good enough just to say sorry and go out and do the same thing straight away again. We need to make a change - a change in our attitude and a change in our behaviour. This isn't easy and it's hard work, but it is truly worth it.
One of the best ways of actually 'getting' this idea of God forgiving us is to do the following exercise. Start by getting a scrap of paper and writing down all the hints you have done wrong - the thoughts, words, actions - and as you write confess them to God. Then turn the page to a right angle - ie turn it onto its side! And in red pen write this verse on top of what you have written -
"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."
1 John 1:9
Now read it out - slowly and clearly - and claim this promise for yourself. You have confessed. He has forgiven. Take it in - it's already done - it is finished.
Now tear that piece of paper into little tiny bits and throw them away! Because that, my friend, is what God does to our sins - in Micah 7:19 it says He will "throw them into the depths of the ocean". I usually try to throw mine in the direction of the fireplace so they are truly gone!
I find that by doing this exercise every so often, it helps me to really concentrate and confess properly, sincerely and humbly. So why not try it for yourself.
Keep shining xx