Renovation of My Heart :: Repentance, Confession, Belief, Life
As I examine the renovation of my heart Jesus doesn’t just leave me at repentance and surrender, he calls me to action, to belief. He doesn’t just invite me into a room and begin tearing down walls and rebuilding them, he shows me how and hands me a tool to join him in the process.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” - Mark 1:15
The renovation of my heart is an opportunity for the Kingdom and the gospel of repentance and redemption to take place practically over and over again in me.
Sometimes over and over again in the same room, until I get in the practice of letting go of the way things used to be and allow Jesus to change a wall into a window.
Part of joining in the work he’s doing in me is courageously stepping into belief.
A couple years ago I realized I had a terrible case of FOMO (fear of missing out) flare up. I was getting ready to take some kids to Young Life camp for the summer and every weekend I would see photos of my fellow Young Life volunteers show up on some social media site.
It looked like they were all hanging out…without me. Ouch. I felt rejected, hurt, and resentment especially at my friend Trevor who led our volunteers and was usually contentious to include me.
Over the weeks leading up to camp the hurt deepened and the resentment grew. A gloomy hallway with a locked door of my heart was revealed in my lady’s bible study. There I admitted my hurt, my loneliness, my resentment, and my anger.
Admitting those are deeply imbedded in my heart is always painful, but as soon as the words left my lips I started breathing easier. I opened the door and now for the renovation to begin.
“What are you going to do about it?” The women in my ladies group asked.
I’ll be honest, I don’t love this part, responding to the work Jesus is doing in my heart and taking action.
I resolved I would tell Trevor, admit my hurt, loneliness, anger, and resentment and ask his forgiveness.
“How are you going to tell him?” they pressed.
This is where I had thought I would escape. A simple text message should be enough. But I knew that was cheating and they wouldn’t let me get away with that.
“I’ll call him.”
“When are you going to call?” They weren’t going to let up. They were going to get as many details as possible and pray for me, be with me, and cheer for me as I let Jesus work the renovations of my heart.
As I was telling my Young Life students this story last week one of them laughed and said, “Geez…”
It may sound like legalism, but these women did the most loving thing for me, they were holding me accountable to responding to Jesus in obedience and stepping into deeper life with him.
See, for too long I’ve lived in a way that will crack open a creaky door, eek out something that looks like repentance and then be inclined to shut it back up and lock it without allowing Jesus to do any real work inside.
The thing, I’ve come to realize, is that me recognizing and seeing what needs to be done and actually allowing work to begin are different. If I keep opening doors only to close them again the creepiness lingers and the smell under the door returns.
After much prayer, I nervously called Trevor that night. “Maybe it’ll just go to voicemail…” I thought, the last ditch effort of this messy room to stay in existence.
But it didn’t. Trevor picked up the phone, and since I’m terrified of conflict and confrontation I talked about everything BUT the reason I was calling for a solid 10 minutes. After skirting around the reason I called, our conversation started wrapping up, my heart was pounding, and I took a deep breath. “Trevor,” I said a tremor in my voice, “I have to ask your forgiveness.” And I began spilling out the ugliness that had been occupying my heart.
Confession doesn’t look like showing up with accusations or justifications. Confession humbly arrives with a willingness to be vulnerable and honest about my brokenness.
I always find myself preparing for the worst when I’ve confessed and asked for forgiveness. It makes me only want to be vulnerable with “safe people”. But safe people don’t exist. We’re all broken and unsafe. The healing promised when I confess my sin to another isn’t with “safe” people. I’m only promised healing.
“And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16
A couple years ago a friend of mine came to me, confessing resentment and anger she had been harboring against me. It was no surprise I knew there had been a rift in our friendship. Seconds after her confession followed, “But, I feel like you’ve been doing this and I’ve heard from some people you’ve done this too…” and she proceeded to list what she thought were my sins and justification for her anger and resentment. This looked like confession, but it was just the opposite. The opportunity for healing in our friendship was decimated just as soon as she started laying out the renovation plans she had for my heart.
When we make excuses for our sins our confession and desire for healing is tainted. Confess your sins one to another doesn’t suggest pointing someone else’s dark and ominous corridors, it’s owning the work Jesus is doing in us and trusting he is faithful to complete it.
Instead, I own my ugliness. Repent, confess, and step into healing, life, and belief that God is going to do the unimaginable with the boarded up room I’ve surrendered to him.
As soon as I confessed to Trevor and owned my ugliness I prepared myself for the worst.
“Holly, thank you for telling me.” He said tenderly. “You don’t know how glad I am you were strong enough to tell me, and I’m sad you’ve felt that way.”
I stepped into deeper intimacy with Jesus and deeper relationship with Trevor.
Later that summer, Trevor was in a tragic jet skiing accident that left him in a coma for several weeks and the chances of recovery were hit or miss.
I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was to think that Jesus had busted through the room of hurt and resentment I held against Trevor and deepened our friendship earlier that summer. I can’t imagine having the odor of death still lingering in the midst of his accident.
And that is only a glimpse at the remarkable work Jesus does when I step out in faith and obedience to him. It starts with the humility of opening my heart to Jesus, diligence to keep my eyes on the work he’s doing in my heart, and courage to step into obedience and belief in the work he’s doing.
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” - Ephesians 1:17-18
You can read more about Trevor's remarkable story here.