“There is no repentance where a person can talk lightly of sin, much less where they can speak tenderly and lovingly of it.”
— Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892)
Meeting with a group of new friends for a cycle ride one Saturday morning recently was a delight, but more learning lay in store for me than simply meeting new people.
We had ridden about 15 km, I guess, when, in negotiating the runners and other cyclists, I came too close to a runner and startled her. She let me know vocally as I continued riding. But the Holy Spirit caused me to stop; I knew instantly that I must seek to restore her peace by making restitution. I did, in fact, need to repent. None of this was my doing. I acted on the leading of the Spirit and simply obeyed that leading. As she approached, I made sure she was okay, mentioned I was a novice (in that situation) and that I was profusely sorry and that I hoped her day would be blessed all the more. And so, as satisfied as I could be that I’d done everything I could, I rode on.
Then this incident caused me to reflect.
Waiting for her to catch up, she may have thought, “This could be an ugly confrontation,” which would have caused her quite a deal of anxious fear or even rage. Thankfully the Spirit made me aware and I was praying even as she approached.
The fact is I was in the wrong. I was the one that took a shortcut. I had transgressed her space, and, no matter what, the leading of the Spirit was right. It was up to me to attempt to make amends.
Developing a Keen ‘Ear’ for the Spirit
Everyday repentance relies heavily on having a keen ear for the Holy Spirit. Of course, this is nothing about the ears attached to our head. It is everything about the attuned valency of the ears of our hearts.
We cannot develop these ‘ears for the Spirit’ without seeking to obey the will of God. In seeking to please God, by a momentary understanding of what acts and responses are due for the discreet situations we’re in, we obey the will of God, and God blesses us by more acute sense for discerning his Spirit on matters.
Being a follower of Christ is about everyday repentance.
It is central to our discipleship. If we develop no sense, or a limited sense, for what God is saying through us and through our situations, we will not grow, as we are not obeying our Lord.
I mentioned the earlier cycling example deliberately, to illustrate what it is like to hear the Spirit. Having upset someone, which is something we all do from time to time, we can know by the fact of their dismay that God wants us to interact and make peace with the situation, and bring harmony back to the relationship. To not do so is disobedience.
But first we must hear; we must discern the Spirit instructing us to make proper amends.
Everyday repentance is central to being a follower of Jesus. The shape of this repentance is the making of amends—to bring relationships back to harmony—so far as it depends on us. Being a follower of Jesus means repentance is non-negotiable. The beauty in repentance is reconciliation, as the Spirit works to restore brokenness to wholeness.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.