Reaching Back with Repentance

Steve Arterburn

 

 

Most Americans admire those who practice ‘rugged individualism.’ But in our emphasis on individual freedom, we often lose sight of our corporate responsibility. As Christians, we’re individuals but we’re also part of a people. We’re called to benefit from the work of others, to suffer with others, and to bear responsibility with others. This may not seem fair, but it’s a fact.

 

You see, our ties reach all the way back to Adam and Eve. We need to be saved because, as it says in the book of Romans, ‘Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone.’ But Roman’s goes on to say that this very principle of corporate connectedness makes salvation possible through our unity with Christ, for ‘Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life’.

 

When the Israelites returned from their exile, they realized how both they and their ancestors had failed God’s commands, and they were overcome with grief. In that repentant grief, however, they heard the good news of grace, and this revived and renewed their love for God and their desire to obey him.

 

Ask God to bring to mind any sins or wrongdoings you, or even your family, has committed so you may confess and let go of them. It’s a powerful exercise, but seeing God’s mercy over all your sin can be one of the most liberating experiences ever.

 

When the Bathroom Door is Locked

Dwayne Collins

Recently, my wife and I were flying on a small commuter jet. The plane was full and we had the last row on the right side of the airplane. I was on the aisle and immediately behind and to my left was the sliding bathroom door. I was trying to read, but was aware of the people as they entered the door to the bathroom.

I vaguely noticed a little child, about 4 years old, enter the bathroom and slide the door shut. A short time later, I thought I heard a light tapping. I listened, and again I heard the tapping. It was getting louder and louder. It was apparent that the child, a little girl, had locked the door and didn’t know how unlock it. She was stuck.

I glanced across the aisle and the passenger there nodded his agreement with my assessment. I got out of my seat and tried to slip the slide lock with my finger, to no avail. I got close to the door and yelled for the child to slip the lock back, but she could not understand. I could tell the she was beginning to cry.

I knew that an adult next to an empty seat was probably her parent. I walked about four rows forward and found a lady sitting alone. I told her that her child was locked in the bathroom and couldn’t get out. She looked back and motioned to her husband who was sitting two rows back. He jumped up and tried to force the door open. By this time, the flight attendant, a male, came and began to work the door. He finally got it open and freed the child. Crying, she climbed into her father’s arms to be comforted.

I was reminded of another time, years ago, when my sister was taking her three children to Florida from Illinois on the train. My nephew experienced the same fate. He too, was hysterical by the time he was freed from his prison, unaware of all that was going on, outside of his sight and understanding, to unlock the bathroom door.

Isn’t this just like us. We get ourselves locked in the bathroom and can’t get out. We panic and yell because we don’t know what is going on outside the door. Yet, all the time, God is making the necessary arrangements to rescue us.

The problem is that we can’t see what is going on outside of our sight. We don’t know what God is doing to help us. We begin to doubt. We take matters into our own hands. We think we have to devise a plan instead of letting God work.

This happened in Genesis 15 when God promised Abraham (Abram) a child, even though he was already old, and his wife Sarah (Sarai) was long past child bearing age. Abraham could not see how God was going fulfill His promise. He did not know how God was going to get him out of the locked bathroom of childlessness. So he and Sarah panicked and took matters into their own hands. Sarah gave her maidservant to Abraham to bear a child.

To sit in the locked bathroom and wait on God takes faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. So, even when we are in the bathroom, and don’t see what God is doing, we can be patient and know that God has a plan.

We need to remember that God hears the first tap on the door. Daniel found this in Daniel 10:12. Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.

Are you locked in a bathroom? Have you tapped on the door? Do you think that no one has heard your tap? Be assured, even when we lock the door ourselves, and don’t know how to unlock it; when we tap on the door, and are not sure anyone has heard; when you are trapped in circumstances that you don’t know how to get out of, don’t be alarmed. God has heard your tap on the door. He will answer.

In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Psalm 31:22.

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