It was a busy winter evening and I was hurriedly fixing dinner when the phone rang. A voice I had not heard for a long time was on the other end: 'Could you come over. We need help,' he said. I arrived at their home, one of beauty and luxury, with cars in the driveway, beautiful children — seemingly a prosperous, happy home. I found only distress, packed suitcases (hers), tears, bitterness and despair. The decision was already made to separate from each other. We talked briefly, getting nowhere.
| I asked her if she would take a ride with me alone for a cup of coffee, just to talk.We returned to my house and I went in to get a little book called Repentance by Basilea Schlink and I asked her if she would only promise me one thing, that she would read this book carefully and submit to the Lord Jesus! Then if she still wanted to leave her husband, then go, there was nothing else I could do. This has been three years ago and they are still together as a family. Repentance is an interstate highway to the Father's heart and His love and forgiveness.
Seeing Ourselves As We Really Are
When God opens our eyes to see the depths of our sin, we will be grieved by what we have done to God and our fellow beings. Then, instead of weeping over what others have done to us, we will weep over what we have done to them. We will see everything in the light of God's truth, rather than in the half-light of the evil one, who magnifies the other person's sin and covers up our own. In the end, the other person's faults will seem almost non-existent compared with ours.
Challenged by these words, one couple found the courage to face up to past mistakes. 'The result was brokenness and repentance towards our families and our former spouses … My husband and I had both been married before … We both supported each other as we repented to our ex-spouses in each other's presence. This was not a pleasant nor easy task, but very freeing.'
Such creative power lies in repentance that it even works retrospectively, redeeming the past and restoring what has been destroyed by sin.
Making the First Move
A woman living with her sick, elderly mother became deeply embittered because she felt her mother was making life unbearable. But during some quiet days away from home, she was convicted by the Word of God. Suddenly she saw everything in a different light. Now she knew that she herself was to blame: her reactions were wrong. Tears of repentance began to flow. On her way back home she bought her mother some flowers. And what happened? After the daughter made that first move, love was victorious. Mother and daughter were reunited. Then other relationships were transformed. The mother was on bad terms with several neighbours in the village. Now, with the aid of her daughter, she sent a letter to each of them, asking forgiveness … A wave of reconciliation swept through that village.
Long Lost Son
In the story of the long lost son, his father welcomed him home, giving him fine clothes, instead of rags, and a ring expressive of love. Those who are sorry for their wrongdoing are the rich ones — rich with God's blessings and pardon. Having wasted opportunities and resources and made a mess of their lives, they know that they are undeserving and guilty in the sight of God and man, with no right to expect any favour or word of pardon. Can you imagine the relief of a condemned man upon hearing he is pardoned? In the same way, the kingdom of heaven, where there is singing and rejoicing, will dawn in a heart that has received forgiveness. We are all Adam's children, driven out of paradise, but still having a deep desire for the lost paradise.
And paradise, heaven, can be ours here and now when we get right with God and with each other.