Acts 3:19 – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (NIV)
"Keep short accounts with Jesus! Deal quickly with convictions as they arise. Don't muck about, repent, turn around to God, ask forgiveness, get back to living His kingdom life of righteousness, peace, and joy" was our pastor's regular, humorous exhortation, which is still etched on my heart from the early days of my adult church life. It still works for me!
Many were the thoughts, words, deeds, and habits, which I wanted gone from my life. One of the more lingering convictions was about smoking. The habit clung to me and me to it as if we'd die without each other. Yes, but I wanted the habit to die, not me.
Embarrassments and inconveniences arose that had never occurred before. For instance, a room full of blue smoke, an ashtray overflowing, and a cigarette in my hand on the pastor's first visit to our home was an exceedingly embarrassing discomfort for me. He merely beamed a confident smile and said, "Enjoy, while you still can."
In church, I was also in great discomfort; the two-hour services felt endless as the craving for a cigarette raged. Memorable is the time my handbag fell off my seat, my cigarettes and lighter clattering to the floor during praise and holy worship, and my complexion remaining "hot pink" for the rest of the morning. Thereafter, I left the offensive items in the car, but this did not diminish my habit one tiny bit.
Through much desperate, fervent, daily prayer and the absorbing of God's Word, the gift of repentance came. As the desire to quit increased, amazingly, smoking made me repeatedly physically sick and became a total displeasure. I was deliriously happy to finally shout, "Okay, I've had enough!"
Months later, I had the great joy of burning the stockpile of stale, unopened packets of cigarettes. Freedom and victory!
Praise our beloved Jesus! "[The sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart." (Psalm 51:17a AMP) When we keep turning around in repentance to Him, we grow in closer relationship and increased victories and freedoms through Him. Aha! Joy unspeakable, further spiritual maturity and strength, and a greater capacity to hear Him do follow the Word, will, and ways of our precious, forgiving Lord Shepherd: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free." (John 8:36 GWT)
A cat whose fur is being stroked the wrong way is wise enough to turn around, so let us be wise enough to turn around to our Lord in repentance, so that He can better stroke us in His blessed right and enjoyable way.
Prayer: Oh, yes, thanks and praise, Master, for Your continual, beautiful gifts of repentances with contrite heart conditions. We reverence You for Your holy refinings as fine silver and gold, which more clearly define us as Yours! Bless You, Jesus Lord! Amen and Amen!