So I fell off the wagon this week. It started on Saturday, when I realised that my weekend wasn’t going as planned. At first I was in a sweet place in Jesus, so I didn’t allow it to faze me. But as the weekend went on I fell into that horrible state of being that is so quick to rob us of our joy: self-pity. Sigh.
Monday was a horrible day, by Tuesday I realised that I needed to stop looking at the people around me and take a good, hard look at myself. You know, that old staring-at-the speck-in-another-one’s-eye-and-missing-the-log-in-your-own thing.
It got me thinking about repentance. It was one of the topics we did in our foundational classes in bible school. I remembered that the word repentance means to turn. I realised that I needed to turn my gaze from being focused on me and my ‘stuff’, and look at Jesus.
I have been studying scriptures that pertain to looking, the eye, and beholding God face to face this week. There are a multitude of scriptures that refer in some way to the fact that God has his eye on his people. ( Ps 33:18, 2 Chron 16:9, Job 34:21, Ps 34:15, Prov 15:3, 1 Pet 3:12, and more… )
I don’t know about you but sometimes I forget just how personally God is involved in my life. I tend to think of Him as afar off, especially when I have sinned. But my scripture searches the past few days bring home the fact that God is near, and he is looking at me!
Ps 119: 151 ,Thou art near O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth
One of my fave scriptures is in Isaiah 66 where God says: but to this man will I look: even to him who has a humble and contrite heart, and who trembleth at my word. (my own paraphrase…don’t have time to look it up)
If I have sinned, all I need to do is to simply turn my focus and my heart and look to Him. When I do, I find that He is right there, and his grace floods over me, washing me clean and restoring my fellowship with Him.
God is looking…and he longs for us to look back. He wants to have a people who will know him face to face. (Song of Sol 2: 14)
2 Chronicles 7: 14 is a familiar scripture:
If my people, who are called by my Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.
I read it in a new light this morning though. In the past I have personally found it a kind of beat-yourself-up-because-you-have-sinned kind of scripture. Yet this morning, I noticed that there is a progression there. To return to God, first, you must be humble. Then you need to pray, or cry out for his help. Then you need to seek his face.
This is the most important part for me. So often we seek God’s hand and not his face. We want him to reach out and change our circumstances, or take away our troubles. But when we seek his face, when we seek Him for who he is and not what he can give us, we find out that he really is merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving iniquity… (the first words God uses to describe himslef as he passes over Moses in Ex 34 )
It is in seeing the sweet, gracious, kind face of our Saviour that we find the grace to change. I can’t find the exact scripture right now but there is one that says in effect, that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. It is only after we have seen his precious face that we are given the divine enablement to turn from our wicked ways.
And this is when God comes in and heals our land.