Repentance; October 7, 2020

Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”

This is at the same time a beautiful offer from our Creator and a tragic response that is true of so many. We so want to be in control of our own lives, our own salvation! Free will is real, but it is the freedom to trust God or not trust Him, to obey Him or rebel. Even when we say all the right things, often our hearts are in defiance, and God know our hearts. Where the NIV says “repentance” here, the Japanese says “returning,” as in coming back to God. There can be no coming back to God without acknowledging that we had gone away from Him, and that is repentance. It is amazing at times how stubbornly we resist repentance. The Japanese term for repentance as such is written as “regret and start over.” Our problem is that we regret the results of our rebellion, but we don’t regret the rebellion itself, and so we don’t discard the rebellion in order to start over. We want salvation (by our definition) and we want strength, but we resist getting quiet enough before the Lord to receive it. That is tragic indeed. However, as it says in verse 18, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” We need the humility to acknowledge that we can’t go it alone, and receive what God so graciously offers to us.

I remember one time 46 years ago that the Lord gave me this verse as I was ministering to a dear missionary friend. He was going through a rough time, and God was saying to him that he wasn’t in rebellion, exactly, but he was trying to fix the situation in his own strength and wisdom, and that wasn’t going to work. This verse is important to everyone, no matter how dedicated to God they might be. I certainly have the tendency to want to fix things myself, in many areas. Sometimes that seems to work pretty well, but I’ve got to remember that when it does, it’s because God has done it through me. Hebrews puts it this way: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11) Sometimes it can seem like hard work to let go and rest! God wants us to be yielded and available to Him, but I’ve got to remember that whether He uses me or not is His choice and not mine, other than the commitment to availability.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the nine days in the hospital I’ve had recently, forced to step out of what I saw as “my work,” but being used by You to share Your love and grace with men who would not have heard otherwise. Help me be quiet enough, trust You enough, to receive the strength You want to pour through me, for the sake of Your kingdom and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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