“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17
Last week I had the opportunity to spend the week in Redding, CA and attend a class on fundraising. As some of you may know, in addition to serving at Living Waters, I also have my own ministry, which operates as a Non-Profit organization. I love the ministry and calling The Lord has allowed me to steward for the last 8 years… but if I am completely honest there is a part of it that I have always hated. Fundraising. I don’t think that I am unique in this. In fact the entire class, full of ministry workers and missionaries from around the world all confessed the same thing; we all HATED this part of our work. What struck me as I sat through the 40+ hours of training was an ever present sense of foreboding that begin to become louder and louder in my spirit. So much so, that the voice of condemnation and accusation became almost more audible than the instruction: “Drew, you are a massive failure. You have done a terrible job.” Now, for clarity, the reason I felt so condemned was not about fundraising.
I think one of the most universal human experiences is “missing the mark”. Whether that be in something measurable and morally neutral like failing a test or not achieving a goal, or something more morally and spiritually consequential like sin, there isn’t one of us that hasn’t experienced the feeling of shame, disappointment or weariness that falling short provides. When our falling short is overtly and obviously sin, it is pretty clear that repentance is needed. However, this week, in a fundraising class of all things, the Lord spoke to my heart about a more subtle tactic of the enemy.
Years ago I came across a quote that was quite convicting. John Wesley (1703 – 1791) was a pastor, theologian, evangelist, and founder of the Methodist Church. In a conversation with his mother, he asked her for a working definition of “sin”. Her response was incredibly compelling. She said:
“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things…that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”
When something in our life has these symptoms, we have a problem. The enemy will do anything and everything to rob us, diminish us, and destroy us. Any open door or foothold, he will exploit. Sometimes years can go by and we not even notice the erosive effects. Without going into any detail, I came to realize that I needed to repent. Not of anything that we might define scripturally as “sin”, but definitely behavior and beliefs that has “obscured my sense of God”. But here is the good news. I can repent.
Over the years I have heard repentance described many different ways, but the one I like the best and want to give to you today as an encouragement or instruction: to come to our senses and withdraw from the path and direction we are on, turn to face The Father and pursue Him.