In a previous post, I wrote about the talk by Pastor Lynn Downing our Fanning the Flame team listened to together. In that talk, Pastor Downing stated that true repentance means allowing God to change us in accordance with His will –NO LIMITS ATTACHED. That reminded me of a quote by Henri Nouwen, who was a Catholic priest, professor and author of many book on spirituality. Here’s Henri’s confession about that:
“I love Jesus, but want to hold on to my own friends even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus, but want to hold onto my own independence even when it brings me no real freedom. I love Jesus, but do not want to lose the respect of my professional colleagues even when their respect does not make me grow spiritually. I love Jesus, but do not want to give up my writing, travel, and speaking plans even when they are often more to my glory than God’s.”
I suspect we all have a list like this; I know I do. I love Jesus, but don’t want to give so much of my income to the needy that I can’t buy what I want, go out to dinner or take vacations. I love Jesus, but I don’t want to give up all or even part of my secular reading and tv shows in order to spend more time in prayer and study. I love Jesus, but I still like to impress others with my accomplishments — and so on. My point? I’m still pretty far from that “no limits attached” ideal of repentance. I guess this is what Luther meant in his first thesis — living a life of repentance is a life-long project.
In later life, Henri Nouwen did grow closer to NO LIMITS ATTACHED. He went to work at a facility for the disabled, became a chaplain and caregiver, and always took one of the residents with him on speaking engagements. He repented of his pride and neediness and He did allow God to change him. With God’s help you and I can do the same.