We've entered the Lenten season, and it has me thinking about self-reflection and repentance.
Reflection and repentance can be twisted into gloomy and harmful things. They can decay into morbid introspection, spiritual self-obsession, and emotional self-flagellation, leaving us with the rotting flesh of guilt and shame, of fear that we'll never be good enough for God to love us.
Thanks be to God - this is far from the picture we're given of life in Christ. We repent because He has called us beloved sons and daughters - and not worms. We repent because the Holy Spirit is at work enlivening and reorienting our hearts to love God rightly and to delight in obeying Him.
We reflect, we repent, and we run after godliness because we have the assurance of grace. The road of reflection and repentance always leads us back to the open arms of the Father.
On this Friday morning, I wanted to share with you a beautiful Puritan prayer I came upon this week as I've been thinking about this...
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for you always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and you are always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning, let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day's work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.
- A Puritan Prayer: "Continual Repentance" in The Valley of Vision