Last night was the second Habitation Service of 2011. It was hard getting there--not physically but emotionally and spiritually. Although we arrived in the Gateway parking lot at 4:30pm, we didn't make it into the building until 5:30pm. (Thankfully, we were way early to begin with.) There was a lot of heavy and hard conversation taking place. Hearts butting heads again...
It's really hard when two hearts are in different locations.
When one heart is struggling to understand.
And the other heart is dying for life.
We almost gave up and turned towards home without ever stepping out of the car. Almost.
Inside the worship was necessary. For me, my usual outward expressiveness was definitely subdued; not because I was withdrawing from God but instead drawing into him. I wasn't worshiping begrudgingly. I was beseeching the heart of God quietly.
Near the end of the message, the issue of repentance was discussed, with Steve Dulin excitedly sharing, with a big smile on his face, how much he loves to repent. Seriously. It's what he said. And he followed that up with the thought that repentance is one of God's gifts to us. Jesus is holding out a gift-wrapped present and all we have to do is receive it and unwrap it. Repentance gives us the opportunity to surrender our wills to him and to make the choice to change our minds. (the literal definition of repent)
Holy Spirit caught my attention with this thought: You don't love to repent.
No harshness involved. No condemnation. Just another layer of my onion-like soul being revealed. And he's right. I think the word has always frightened me. Until last night. It's always sounded harsh and judgmental and scary to me. Probably because it's used that way, by humans, more often than not. REPENT OR DIE! Can you just hear the anger and raised voice? Can you feel the flames of hell licking at your toes? It's like a (6-letter) FourLetterWord. I shrink back when I hear it. Until last night.
But I learned something new last night. Although I do firmly believe that without repentance we are leading ourselves on a journey to death, Holy Spirit showed me the compassionate, and really simple side, of repentance ... just change your mind. Can you heart it? No screaming required. No judging finger pointed in my face.
It's like Jesus is sitting in a high-backed chair across from me at Roots Coffeehouse telling me something that's so obvious he doesn't have to make a big deal about it. "Just change your mind", he says, and then takes a sip of his coffee as he waits for his words to settle on my heart.
It was like years of misunderstanding and fear were erased. Holy Spirit showed me that I know how to come before God and ask in His Name. That I know how to worship with everything inside of me. That I know how to speak to him of my sins and even ask forgiveness.
But one thing's been missing: a heart like David. A heart that deeply understood his place of rescue from sin. David sinned greatly. But David always repented. He didn't go back and repeat his sins. He took them straight to his God and with a sorrowful heart, laid himself bare.
So last night, when the altar was opened up, I followed my husband to the front of the stage steps. I reached out for his hand. Together, we knelt before Jesus. Individually, we laid our hearts bare before him.
An obstacle was moved last night. Today, I'm one step closer.