“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying “‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah saying:
The voice of the one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His path straight’.” Matthew 3: 1-3
Throughout the majority of my life, John the Baptist scared me. I was raised in a Baptist church and this message was daunting and alarming. I thought he was saying to me, “Hurry and change yourself because Jesus is coming and if you don’t; you’re going to be in big trouble, and He will leave you behind!” I believe this is where I began to hide myself in shame and guilt, picking up where Adam and Eve left off in the garden. Genesis 3:9-10 “Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him ‘Where are you?’ 10 So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked: and I hid myself’.”
For years I tried to change myself for Jesus. I told myself He would leave me. Funny how you know that God is omnipotent, but when you think about it deeply; you only think He knows the bad stuff. That is shame, and it is a shame.
Trying to change for the Lord and “REPENT!” never worked for me. I became a counselor. If I can’t change for God, I will help people change and keep God out of it. I started my counseling journey in addictions. It seemed that I was not breaking any addiction cycles for anyone. Cognitive-behavior modification can only go so far until you are stuck with someone’s core beliefs. If those core beliefs are not based on the truth of God, a cycle of lies will ultimately kill, steal, and destroy. Cycle defined: we sin, we feel horrible, we repent, and we feel more horrible, which leads to more sin. Matthew 12:44 says that 43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. “
Satan being satan, led me to lies that I was not good enough for “the kingdom at hand” because there was NO CHANGE GOING ON. Maybe I did not love Jesus enough? I wasn’t trying hard enough. I wasn’t serious about eternity. The big one: I loved sin more than I loved God! YIKES!
The good news was that God knew my heart. He knew I wanted to repent, I did want Jesus; and although at times I gave up on myself, God never gave up on me. And, NEVER WILL!
God placed a hunger in my heart. After years of knocking and asking, I was finally led into a world where He was the focus. I started to get to know Him, really get to know Him. At this time, I was not so much led to read the Bible daily or meditate on scripture. Every time I started there, I would become frustrated because I didn’t understand any of it. I would repent because I was so out of touch with His word. Days would go by and I would stare at my Bible as if it were this Mount Everest I had to climb. So I continued to pray about it. As I spent time in silence asking God to show Himself to me, I started to experience Him. I started to talk to Him. I placed myself in situations that made me vulnerable and where I needed to step out in faith. My plea changed from “I repent” “I confess”, “I’m not worthy of you Lord” to…… “You love me, and I need you”. “You made me perfect in Christ and I need to know more about that Lord”. “I am a daughter of God and righteous in Christ, and I need your help to find You here”. God showed me how much I longed for a good Father and Brother. He showed me that I NEEDED A LOVE THAT DID NOT DISAPPOINT!
When my King showed it to me (and I’m positive it’s just a molecule compared to what all He has for me), HE broke my heart wide open and HE wrote repent on my heart. My repentance was a huge billowing wave of deep sorrow and emptiness that I had been carrying to protect myself from any more shame and guilt. It was not the sin He showed me. We didn’t even talk about the sin!!! Well, at least the sin I thought it was that was keeping me from Him. For the first time in my life repentance was not SHAME or GUILT! I released it to Him. This time repentance was accepting and receiving all the love I could handle from Him at that time. He has SO MUCH MORE!!!!!! The true sorrow in my heart was ever-changed because I saw for the first time: His FORGIVNESS. I saw how much He can withstand of my misconceptions of Him. I saw Him cry with me that my will of not being hurt again kept me in bondage. I SAW MY FATHER LOVE ME and I SHOUTED I REPENT I REPENT! And I meant it throughout every hair on my head to the tips of my toes. My soul shook in my rib cage until I thought my heart was going to burst into flames! The love that flowed through me was like a current of power I still can’t describe. It was not punishment, it was GLORY!!!!! He wants to “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His path straight” in our hearts”, and He is delighted to do so, not angry and resentful. He can’t be; He is LOVE.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29) take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30) For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”.
This is not meant for people that had already made their paths straight. This is for me. This is for my sin. This is for my darkness, my brokenness, my rebellion. This is for us all. Repentance cannot be fulfilled without the Lord. It is not something you must do before the Lord comes to you. It is not something you need to check off a list in order to be blessed. It is a true revelation of your Lord and King. It is “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness”. Repentance with Christ is what changes your heart and leaves you wanting more of Him.
Keri Lawrence 1/2012

Author's Bio: 

Keri has over 17 years experience in the counseling field working specifically with families, parents, and married couples. She will tell you she has loved every minute of trying to bring harmony to the most important pillar in God creation, the family unit. Her greatest joy in life outside of doing God's work, is her own marriage and family. She has been happily married for eight years and they are responsible to two young sons. Keri works with Samaritan's Well in Richardson, Texas.