I Repent

My heart is breaking today. Another soldier of Jesus Christ has fallen in his daily battle against sin, mortally wounded; and I, a fellow soldier, was petitioned to be the first medical aid response. I didn’t see it coming.

And yet I did. And that’s another reason my heart is breaking—that I’m getting accustomed to horrifying injuries. That soul tragedies become more commonplace, more quickly accepted, more believable, with each occurrence.

I fear for this soldier. Will he heal? If he does, how great will his scars be? He’s too important to lose!

Yet I felt that my heart didn’t respond to an emergency with crisis level of emotion. More like, “Oh! Oh no. [Hurt sigh.] Not you too…[mind-scrambling pause]…now what?” Like the Tsonga people who hear of a death every week or two, summoning a halfhearted, “Eish,” upon one more report of a funeral that weekend.

My eyes were wet after praying with this hurt soldier; but they weren’t overflowing, as they did last year about this time upon hearing of a different soldier’s injuries. I fear for the time they will cease to even moisten.

I fear for my heart, reacting against the hurt of yet another soldier going down, that it will harden, become bitter and cynical, as another missionary whom I won’t soon forget saying with resigned tone soon after I got here, “You can never trust them. Never.” Other comments something along the line of, You put your life into them, thinking you got a man who will faithfully serve Christ as a shepherd of the flock you raised, and he’ll let you down. Even after 10 years, he could be a rice Christian yet, and you will never really know for sure.

But that he went down on the battlefield this week is a reminder that I’m also in the line of fire. Just last week he was standing beside me, both of us fighting against the fiery darts of the enemy. Take heed! You’re standing, but you could fall too. You could fall next. Now that enemy is slinging darts my way, thoughts of discouragement, encouragement to cynicism—

“Not one. Is there no one who has character?”

“You’re wasting your time. You’ll be here your whole life, and the best potential candidates you can raise up even from their youth, will disqualify themselves just when you put your most hope in them. You’ll never leave. You’ll never get out. You’ll never start another church. What are you thinking? You haven’t even started this one!”

You haven’t even started this one.

Ah. All things work together for good to those who love and are fighting for their Commander. The Commander-Comforter takes the enemy’s lies and reminds me of truth in the midst of wanting to lash out and protect myself from more disappointment, frustration, and hurt—YOU didn’t start THIS ONE.

I did. And you didn’t start yourself either—the reason you’re standing and fighting, the reason you have character, the reason you weren’t born in the same position as every single person you live amongst is all because of MY grace.

And I hang my head and say with shame, “I am an unworthy servant; for I have only done what was my duty.”

I grappled with it alone today as Seth was away preaching at our teammate’s church, knowing I wouldn’t have his comfort until after our own service was concluded several hours later, and even then, I’d have to wait for time and the Spirit to do its healing work on his heart as well.

As I watched this young man walk down the road towards his house, leaving our house as he’s done over a hundred times in the last 5 years, watching his familiar walk, hurting for and loving him, I walked to the piano for solace as I have done so often in the past, and played this song.

I played it for him, and I played it for myself. I played it for all my fellow-soldiers, hurting, in shame before our bloodied and risen Christ, whom we daily betray with our idol-loving choices, often not even realizing that we’ve yet again drifted far from the battlefield, our eyes dazzled by useless baubles from Vanity Fair—

“I repent.”

I regret the hours I have wasted
And the pleasures I have tasted
That you were never in.
And I confess that though your love is in me,
It doesn’t always win me
When competing with my sin.

And I repent, making no excuses.
I repent no one else to blame.
And I return to fall in love with Jesus.
I bow down on my knees,
and I repent.

I lament the idols I’ve accepted,
The commandments I’ve rejected
To pursue my selfish end.
And I confess I need you to revive me,
Put selfishness behind me
And take up my cross again.

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About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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17 Responses to I Repent

  1. Katie says:

    I tried to think of words of comfort as I read this, Amy, and they just wouldn’t come to mind. It is a sad, sad, sad experience when we see defeat in our people’s lives – defeat we KNOW didn’t have to happen. And yet, these kind of moments are opportunities to remind ourselves why we love and serve the people God gives us to minister to — we love and serve them simply because God has asked us to do so whether or not they respond. We love you and Seth – keep on keeping on to the glory of God!

  2. Gayle McQueary says:

    Amy, Great words and good godly living to back it up. I will be praying for you and Seth and this man to have victory and keep having victory over the flesh with daily right choices and short accounts with God when you And I do fail. I John 1:9 was written for us! May God richly bless you along life’s way. Gayle McQueary

  3. zebranay says:

    I’m so sorry for this sad setback in your ministry and for the young man. Please remember that the word of God that you and Seth preach always to these people will not go unheeded to our Father. He will still bless His word in their lives. That song was beautiful and reminded me of how frail my own resolves to Him are continually and how often I need to repent over thoughts and feelings as well. Take heart that though the enemy is powerful, our God is infinitely more so! Remember too that even Peter betrayed the Lord so badly and bounced back to serve Him even stronger. Thank you for this blog Amy, I needed to hear this for my own situation and my previously unrecognized emotional hardening for my dear Dan. I am going to listen to that song a few more times and do a little repenting to God myself. Love you!

  4. Jessica Wenger says:

    Praying for you, Amy.

  5. kkkjk5 says:

    Praying–and it’s a reminder to me how much I–and all of us–fail daily. Yes, some of our sin has bigger consequences here on earth; yet to the Lord, he died for even one of our “littlest” sins. And he chose to forgive us and to let us try to live for him. So even this one who has recenty fallen and been a disappointment–I will pray for him–that he will allow the Lord to help him get back up and that he will go forward and be usable once again. For, again, I fall daily; but the Lord can still use me if I allow him to–if I lean on Him. If I repent.

  6. Rhonda says:

    Thank you for this reminder, although sad for you and your member/friend, and the posting of this song. I have this song on my iPod, but haven’t listened to it for a long time and it was what I also needed to hear today. We have a couple families who are going through hard times and suffering from the consequences of their sin right now and although my heart is burdened for them, I also give a thanks to God that to this point Dan and I have remained tender to Him, because “except for the grace of God, there go I.” Not tooting my horn, just incredibly greatful for God’s working in our lives and His help in giving us victory over temptations that would kill our ministry and hurt our cause for Christ. The glory goes completely to Him and I pray for continued daily guidance and victories from God in our lives as well as for the other members of our family and this young man in your ministry! As others have already said to you, if this young man allows, God can still use him for His glory. We will pray that God will give you and Seth the verses and words to enable and help get this young man back on the right path for God again.

  7. Christie says:

    I wish I could hear you play the piano.

  8. Ann Bedford says:

    My heart is so sad as I think of your post. Not only for you and Seth and for all who are in the ministry but also for those of us who are not serving full time. We all get hardened to things that we see happen in others lives and shed a tear but do we actually weep? Thank you for ending your post on a positive note that we can all use in our daily lives. Praying for you and the young man.

  9. Pingback: The End of All Things (well, 2013, anyway) | Ita Vita

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