…and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins. –Wisdom 12:19
What are some of the things in this life that you can just count on? Many things in life are fluid but there certainly are things that always stay the same for me: it gets light in the morning, little-kid giggles evaporate a bad mood and snakes scare the snot out of me! We can count on lots of things and one of those “sure things” I find great comfort in is the never-ending mercy of Jesus. He will always love us and forgive us . . . his mercy is so much bigger than our sin, no two ways about it. We all love that thought but there is a little something that goes with his mercy that we sometimes breeze by: repentance.
Repentance isn’t a word we toss around over coffee or a cocktail too often, but it’s sure an important word. The definition of repentance is “sincere regret or remorse.” It can make us a little uncomfortable because in order to repent, we have to really stop and process what we’ve done wrong and that’s really NO fun at all. We do everything fast, including this step of the forgiveness process. Sometimes the word regret is used jokingly, like when we refer to wearing a half a can of Aqua Net hair spray on our hair in the ’80s or shoulder pads that made us look like we were headed for a tryout with the Detroit Lions in our teal green rayon dress. But when we’re talking about regret, repentance and the mercy of Jesus, it takes on a whole new meaning.
Last spring I had a bouquet of flowers in the prayer corner of my classroom. They were arranged in a pretty glass vase that I’ve had for a long time. It was the end of the day and one of the middle lovelies accidentally hit the vase of flowers with his backpack. He set it back up on the shelf and we moved on like nothing happened. The next morning the flowers looked a little wilted, so I got a pitcher to add water to the vase and I was shocked when the water came pouring out as fast as I could pour it in. It seemed that there was a big chunk missing from the back of the vase, so the water just went right from the top through the hole in the back. I laughed and found the piece of glass under the edge of the carpet. It wasn’t until recently that I realized what a great lesson that vase had to teach.
Mercy is like the water I was pouring from the pitcher. It comes without measure, without end and without cost. Jesus just loves us so much he showers us with his mercy endlessly. We are like that vase with the missing chunk. I could have stood there and poured water all day but it would have done the flowers no good because they were not prepared to hold onto and receive the benefits of the water as long as they were in that broken vase. In order for that water to be nourishing and life-giving, it had to have a vessel ready to receive it.
When we sin and are in need of the Father’s mercy, we have to be ready to receive it in order to be blessed by its life-giving benefits. If we don’t repent, we can’t fully receive mercy. If we demand the Fathers mercy but don’t express regret or sorrow and a desire to change we can’t experience the mercy that helps us grow in holiness. It took time, energy and money to purchase all the different flowers that I put in that arrangement. I sure didn’t want them to wither and die without trying to care for them. Jesus feels the same way about us times a million! I had to get my container right. It took time and I got hurt when I cut my finger on the jagged glass, but it was worth it when I saw those flowers perked up and restored to their original beauty. Truly repenting of our sinfulness can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful but it’s the only way to prepare our hearts to receive. I hope you’ll find a few quiet minutes this week to get your container right so you can receive the life-giving mercy of Jesus.
A Seed To Plant: Ask the Father to help you make a list of the things in your life that require repentance on your part. After you’ve prayed about that list, ask him to show you how to prepare your heart to fully receive his mercy.
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2017 Sheri Wohlfert