It was hard to share last night, with the 60 women that were there for the Women's LIFE workshop, about a time in my life when I changed my mind. It wasn't the changed mind that was hard to share- that was the wonderful, turning point of my life! But what brought about this change of mind was years of striving to be accepted by God, fear of God, and inner chaos.
I don't like to remember such inner turmoil. All this occurred when I was growing up, in spite of the fact that I grew up in a home with Christian parents and was taught the Word of God everywhere I went. I knew a lot about God and His requirements, but I did not understand at all what the Good News, the Gospel, was. It all seemed like bad news to me: there was a heaven but there was a hell- and in spite of hearing about salvation, I was scared I might still end up there; there was a righteous Holy God- and I didn't think I could ever satisfy His requirements to walk in a worthy manner.
I may share here on this blog about days of interpersonal clashes (a nice way of saying my son was acting up and I was falling down), times of pain ( a gentle way of saying I'm tired of dealing with stuff and it makes feel like I'm getting old and gray), and times where I am wondering how God will get me further along on the path when I have stalled. But sharing about these times with you all do not trouble me as much- because I always have hope, and even when I'm really down, I do not feel lost. Not anymore. But sharing about my past- when I felt like a ship in a storm with no anchor- that I just don't like to dwell on or recount. But I did last night.
I shared with the women what I hadn't talked about in a long while. That years ago, all the way till I was 21, I was normal looking on the outside and just in shambles on the inside. I felt lost and so in a panic, so insecure- and with too much Bible knowledge but no revelation of the LOVE that God poured out to me, the hand He extended to me when Christ died on the cross.
And then I went to Spain, my junior year of college, and lived there a year. It started out great: cafe con leche, dancing at night, chats with friends at outside cafes. Then the novelty wore off, and the old feelings I had returned. Instead of the enjoying the heights of excitement and foreign intrigue, I plummeted , inwardly, into despair.
Jentezen Franklin writes in his book, Right People, Right Place, Right Plan:
"until your misery factor exceeds your fear factor, you won't change."
He's right. When my inner misery mounted to the point that I called out to God- in spite of the fact that I was afraid of Him- I changed my mind at that point. I realized that after all my years of trying to be good that I could not do it, and that had to be admitted. I simply told God, "I can't do this anymore." God replied to me, "Well, I can. Let me do it in you." And that's when I changed my mind about who I was, and Who God was and HOW I could make it in this world.
I knew I was a sinner- but I found out that not only is there a Savior- but that He knows we cannot do a thing to make ourselves worthy of being loved by Him. He loves us-in spite of the huge debt we owe, when it comes to righteousness. So He paid it all, for us. I saw that, finally. I realized what it was God offered to us, and what He wanted from us, which was -to change our mind.
That's what I did, back in 1982, in Spain. I changed my mind about WHO I could trust to lead me- and it was no longer myself that I wanted in the driver's seat.
It's called Repentance. That's what we are called to do upon hearing the good news that the Kingdom of God is at hand: Repent! But it isn't repent- as in grovel and loathe yourself because you are a sinner. Repentance is not even regret, so much, over your sin.
In the Greek, the word repentance is commonly translated as "a change of mind". To "see" something, decide what the truth is about it, and embrace it- that's what we are called to do when we are presented with the Good News, the Gospel.
The good, the bad, and the ugly- here it is, in reverse order: the ugly truth is that you're a sinner and I'm a sinner, the bad news is that you can't enter in to heaven as a sinner, but the good news is that there is a Savior with full recognition of your lost state, and HE made a way for you!!
God did it ALL. He wants us to simply acknowledge this powerful truth. If we grovel, feel lousy about ourselves and the mistakes we make, that isn't repentance. That's just us being frustrated that we can't do the good we know to do. False humility, smacking ourselves around mentally, chastising ourselves for being imperfect- what is new about that thinking? That's the same-old same-old. Been there, done that- and it profited me nothing. Just spiraled me downward.
No, I changed my mind a while ago about what God wants from me. What He delights in is Faith- our confident expectation that His loving hand extends to us "while we were yet sinners"- and that we can reach out and grab hold of His hand even as He grabs hold of us.
And if that doesn't draw you, pull you close to Him, cause you to come running to Him in relief-
....then what will?