Godly sorrow producing repentance (a personal testimony)
2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV) Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
I don’t know how all of this works, but I believe that this was the verse that the Holy Spirit brought me to, after God did His work in me. I testify to His work.
The Greek word for repentance is ‘metanoia’ which means to change one’s mind.
Many people have worldly sorrow, or regret over the things that they either did or didn’t do during their lifetimes. However, without a change of mind, they would not have done things any differently.
I have been married for twenty years, but until this turning point, I would not have told you “happily married,” as the fairy tales have proclaimed.
Over the years, my heart had become bitter and business-like without much heart-felt affection towards my wife.
At one point a few years ago, my wife and I were going through a marriage video series together. During this time, I communicated my “non-negotiable” needs for regular intimacy with my wife. To my surprise, the well of intimacy dried up, really in both of us. Was this because I had not learned to be content with what I had? Maybe. I went through life trying to make the best of it, but inside I was not happy.
15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.
I had noticed over the past three to five years a lack of patience with people at work. Even more so than usual, knowing that my overall life happiness probably had something to do with it.
On January 4th, 2016, I expressed my frustration to my wife on how much I felt ripped off. I felt like there was more affection and passion before we were married than after. I also expressed how I have been “miserable for the last twenty years.”
While my wife was listening to me, I believe the Holy Spirit asked me this question, “what if you have been a miserable person these last twenty years?” After this, I realized that I have had a choice as to whether to have been miserable or not. I blamed my wife for my misery. Hmmm, where have we seen that pattern before? I began to see this same pattern in my grandma and grandpa, and many other marriages. I wondered how many other marriages were like this. I didn’t want to keep being miserable. I want to enjoy the time I have left on earth. I confessed that I had been a miserable person for the past twenty years to my wife.
After this confession, the cold bitter wall that had built up in my heart came down, restoring affection and love in our marriage. It was truly only something God could do. Holy Spirit led me to the understanding that what just happened was Godly sorrow leading to a change of mind (2 Cor 7). I believe Godly sorrow that leads to repentance has these key elements:
1) Honest confession of your true feelings (light can not come in when emotions are trapped in darkness)
2) A realization of the part you have played
3) A change of mind
4) Reconcilation of hearts
Where I had no hope for the future with my wife and my life as a whole, I now have hope.
I had always felt like there was more on the following scripture than I could fathom, but I thought that the text was for those “other” bitter people, and not for me.
22 Then Moses led Israel on from the Red Sea, and they went out to the Wilderness of Shur. They journeyed for three days in the wilderness without finding water.
23 They came to Marah, but they could not drink the water at Marah because it was bitter – that is why it was named Marah.
24 The people grumbled to Moses, “What are we going to drink?”
25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he threw it into the water, the water became drinkable. He made a statute and ordinance for them at Marah and He tested them there.
26 He said, “If you will carefully obey the LORD your God, do what is right in His eyes, pay attention to His commands, and keep all His statutes, I will not inflict any illnesses on you that I inflicted on the Egyptians. For I am Yahweh who heals you.”
27 Then they came to Elim, where there were 12 springs of water and 70 date palms, and they camped there by the waters.
The contrast between Marah (bitterness) and Elim (palms), represent the bitterness that occurs when our flesh doesn’t get what it wants, versus waiting for God’s provision in His way and timing. I believe Elim was a place of healing, after moving past the place of Marah.
I wonder how long the Israelites were tested at Marah. I wonder how many marriages are stuck at Marah. Ask the Healer of Hearts to do what only He can do.