Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Repentance

My friend Janice had a way of seeing ordinary things. I loved looking through her eyes. She would say of a rock, "this is lovely," and somehow, it would be lovely.

Hazelnut coffee. The color blue. Mountain climbing. These things she made lovely because she loved them.

One of my fondest memories of her happened late one night when we were up talking, typical for two teenage girls at a sleepover. We were getting ready for my first mountain climb the next morning. This was our only climb up Mt. Kinabalu together. Yet, it feels as though we've climbed it many times together since.

As our hungry stomachs growled at each other, she gave me two phrases that stayed with me for a long, long time:
In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.
(Isaiah 30:15)
I carried these words up the mountain the next day, with Janice climbing beside me. Or rather, with Janice pulling me along. When I entered my years of wilderness, these words came with me. An echo from the past, they called me to return to the high hills of Kinabalu.

These words beckon me still.

I read the other day, for the first time, the first of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses. He wrote,
Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said “repent,” willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
The trumpet call of the Protestant Reformation: All of life is repentance.

Not merely a guilty confession, or an apology, or even a prayer for forgiveness.

I had it all wrong. I've always thought of repentance as a U-turn. Yet, after many many turns (sometimes in a single day), the destination still seems so far away.

No, repentance is much more than a U-turn. Repentance is a climb. A long and arduous climb where we fight against the gravity of our sin, the weight of our flesh, and the weakness of our will. To repent is to press on, to take another step closer to the summit yet unseen.

The Shepherd found me in the deep ravines, broken and lost. He rescued me, and restored me. He is teaching me to climb these high hills in search of the rising sun.

Soul, return to the mountains.
Repent with tears, and years.
Repent in thanks and praise, and worship-giving.
Repent with others, sharing and believing,
Repent in songs, and dance,
Repent in quietness, and trust,
Repent in rest.

Soul, return to the mountains with joy, much joy.


E! said...

thanks, martyr.
die well, sing well.

YeeLing said...


Anonymous said...

Thank You.
This post may have just turned me back to the straight road again.

I really appreciate it =)

Seda said...

Dear Anonymous, =) I am praying for you, albeit in a very vague way, but our Father sees.

E! said...

I hiked in the Delaware water gap today. It was so lovely.