Isaiah 30:15a: In repentance and rest is your salvation. (NIV)
Having three children, there are often disagreements. Cruel words are spoken, feelings (and sometimes bodies) are hurt, and relationships are damaged. These occasions usually occur because of selfish choices. Someone saw something they wanted and so they took it, regardless of whose it was. The cry of “Hey that’s mine!” and “But, I want it!” can often be heard and sometimes a verbal or physical altercation ensues. As adults, we like to think we have a better handle on our selfish behaviour but, in truth, our natural tendency is still to satisfy ourselves first. At its core, this could be sin’s definition. When we focus on ourselves and what we want, we sin. God’s plans and promises are forgotten or ignored, and we go our own way.
In our house we use some “reflection” time for our kids to calm down and think about how their actions have impacted others. In our faith walk, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our selfish thoughts and actions. Now, we might not have hurt others, but our relationship with God is damaged when we don’t choose his way but go our own way. This time of contemplation is important, but it isn’t the only part of the reconciliation process.
Once the kids have calmed down and had some time to think about their actions, they say sorry to each other, and we ask them to say what they are sorry for. In a faith context we might call this confession. The Holy Spirit convicts us of those times we have focussed on our own selfish desires and strayed from God’s perfect plan and purpose for our lives. We acknowledge this, and we repent. Repentance is saying “sorry”, and turning away from our sin, and instead turning to God’s grace and forgiveness.
When our kids have had their reflection time, we then have a chat. We talk about what happened, and why, and then they apologise to whoever they hurt by their actions. There is restoration in the relationship, because acknowledging something has happened is only part of the story. This is the same with our relationship with God. When we repent, Jesus does a miracle and restores our relationship with God! We can be assured of our forgiveness, and we can rest in it! We are teaching this strategy to our kids as an example of how Jesus forgives and restores us. We can each demonstrate this to each other too. What an awesome privilege to, in some small way, show others the amazing gift of grace available to each of us!