Lord, I repent.
Where do I even start?
I guess I’ve got to start somewhere: I repent for trying to mold Christianity to fit myself, and not molding to the gospel. For so long I have strived to not look like other people for various reasons. I didn’t want to look passionate because I’ve seen people whose passion has turned me off. People who I think dance funny and who I suspect do it for show. But when will I learn that other people’s motives are not really my business? When will I learn that it’s Your job to correct someone’s heart when it needs doing, not mind? I’ve avoided taking risks—particularly asking people if I can pray for them or introducing myself to new people—because of fear of men. I’m afraid of hearing “no, you can’t pray for me,” or afraid that if I pray, nothing will happen. I’m afraid of introducing myself to new people because first of all, I never know how to navigate an introductory conversation. I don’t know what to ask a 35-year-old visitor to our church when he brings his wife and kids. I especially don’t know what to ask an older lady who comes by herself to our church—I have so little in common with them! But that’s just fear manifested, and I recognize that. So Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I want to repent—to turn and change my ways—about everything I avoid for fear of man, other people, and what they’ll think of me. When my heart is stirred during worship, I want to shout “hallelujah!” and not think about whether or not people are judging my heart. I don’t want to judge my own heart, either. You know where I stand, and that’s what matters. I want to be the type who flies to meet new visitors to our church and greet them with a brotherly love from Jesus. I want to be a catalyst that makes our church a welcoming and inviting place for others. Only You can help me do that.
But wait, Lord—there’s more.
I repent of coming to You on my own terms. I repent for everything I’ve failed to surrender to You, and everything I’ve tried to make bigger than You. I repent for thinking that—while I was in school—I made school more important than You. I repent that now that I’m out, I prioritize sportswriting over You. I repent for every time that I’ve allowed a church function to become an obligation and not a joy, and for every time that I’ve resented seeing the people of God because there was a match on, or a book I wanted to read, or a coffee shop I wanted to go to instead. You’ve taught me in the last few years how vital community is to one’s growth, and I hate that at any point, I have despised community. Thank You for forgiving me, and thank You that You’re changing me.
Speaking of growth, and speaking of priorities—I repent that I’ve allowed myself to believe I have no more growing to do, what a joke! Who am I—a 22-year old, single, fresh college graduate—to believe that I have no more growing to do when I know 40-year-olds with two degrees and families and children who are still more teachable and more eager to learn and grow than I am? What’s wrong with that picture? That implies that I believe I’m at a mature place spiritually (which I hardly am) and that I have been persistent in my own discipleship: that I feed myself on Your Word, that I pray diligently for others, that I share my faith with others, that I pour myself out to others; none of which have consistently been the case. Lord, thank You that You forgive me of my rotten pride, and I’ll receive that forgiveness.
And Lord, here lately You’ve helped me to see how I regard more highly—based on how I spend my time and my mental resources—my desire to be a journalist than Your call to be a pastor. That’s disgusting to me, and I repent. I’m thankful for the doors You’ve opened to let some of my work get out there, but I’m disappointed in myself that I let that work become a god to me, and that I’ve let myself slip to give more of my attention, energy, and passion to writing and not to being a pastor. I repent for not laying my life down more for the glory of God and the good of others just because it’s inconvenient, tiring, or that there are other things I can do with my life. Teach me to balance my enjoyment of journalism with the call of being a pastor, and better yet, teach me what it looks like to bring my journalism into submission to Jesus.
I promise I’m almost done. There’s just one more little thing I want to get off my chest.
I’m really bad at reading the Bible. Seriously—I never know exactly what to read, or how to approach it. I know that there are reading plans, and that people will work through a certain book of the Bible at a time, but I don’t trust myself with them because as soon as life gets busy for me, my Bible reading is what suffers as a consequence. And that is where I can tell my heart is wrong. I’ve heard it said that there are scales and spectrums (or pendulums) in our life as Christians—particularly, we start on religious end where our lives are lived out of duty and legalism, and then as we begin to understand grace, it swings to the other side, where we realize that there’s absolutely nothing we have to do to be saved. So reading the Bible, praying, serving are no longer in our minds the source of our salvation—Jesus is. But at some point that pendulum has to swing back to the middle, because both ends of said pendulum create tired Christians. The legalistic end creates a tired believer who is exhausted from all of his work and tired from his worry that he may lose his salvation. The “grace end” (though I would contend that grace is at its most effective in the middle) creates lethargic Christians—like the tiredness you get from sitting around in your living room all afternoon, when you lose all desire to do anything with your life. That’s the end where I’m at, Lord, and I need Your help getting unstuck. I want to read the Bible because it’s a revelation of Jesus. I want to pray for others because You’ve tuned my heart to do so. I want to pour myself out to others for the sake of seeing them grow and make disciples. Bring me to the middle of that pendulum, because that’s where my passion lies—not in being lazy, not in being a fearful workhorse, but being a son working in the family business, seeking with my whole heart to share the Gospel, because it’s the best news and the greatest treasure the world could ever know. Help me, Lord.