I once made a huge mistake by overestimating my Jeep’s off-road capabilities. My initial excitement about a rural snow run turned to trepidation when I realized Interstate 40 had become an ice-rink. That ice laughed at my “all terrain” tires and 4-wheel-drive. After a couple of scary slips, I realized that this adventure was too dangerous to be fun and humbly inched my way back home.
That U-turn probably saved my life. It was a literal act of repentance. Today may be a good day for you to make a U-turn that could save your life, family, and ministry.
You are familiar with King David’s famous U-turn following his scandalous episode of adultery, murder, and cover-up 3,000 years ago. Israel’s favorite shepherd-king used the powers of his office to seduce another man’s wife before having him killed on the battlefield to cover it up.
Like David, pastors are shepherds who experience dangerous temptations which can lead to devastating results. Our private failures often result in public collateral damage. I pray this post reaches some who are still on the edge of the cliff, instead at the bottom of it.
Consider these four questions as you consider a U-turn today.
1. Are my sins being covered or covered up?
LifeWay’s Senior Vice-President and CBO Eric Geiger recently published How To Ruin Your Life—a hope-filled call to repentance and restoration based on King David’s affair with Bathsheba. Dr. Geiger keenly observes that when David was confronted by his sin, he didn’t “blame others, bargain with God, or believe in himself.” Psalm 51 is his confession and Psalm 32 is the celebrative sequel to it.
David’s repentance turned to rejoicing when he stopped covering his sin and let God could do it for him.
How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! (Psalm 32:1)
Our lame attempts to conceal our sin can be traced back to Adam and Eve who vainly attempted to hide from an omnipresent God. Are you covering up a sin today that has already been covered by the blood of Jesus?
2. Am I walking in repentance or remorse?
Admitting our guilt can be a good thing, unless we want to wade in it rather than walk through it. Remorse is wading into guilt; repentance is walking into grace.
The confession aspect of repentance starts with admitting you have a problem that you are hopeless to solve without resurrection power. Repentance moves us beyond merely acknowledging our problem to actually making substantial changes. Are you ready to make a literal U-turn from the guilt-zone of remorse into the grace-zone of repentance?
3. Who is in control of my life?
John Belushi hired a bodyguard to protect him from himself. Despite that, he eventually died of a cocaine overdose. Only Jesus can keep us from ruining our testimonies, families, and ministries. There is no stronghold too strong for someone whose body is a temple of the Holy Spirit of God.
Dr. Geiger wisely warns leaders not to ruin our lives with isolation, boredom, or pride. Pride dangerously keeps us from accepting help from Jesus or his Bride. If you are sick of being controlled by sin, ask for help today. No, ask right now. I am honored to serve as LifeWay’s point man for pastors who want to get and stay healthy. You can email me any time: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Do I practice the grace I preach?
When pastors choose to confess our sins instead of concealing them, we live out the Gospel we proclaim each week.
According to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1b-2)
Geiger observes, “No matter how much you feel you have ruined your life, you have not out-sinned God’s grace.” Save some of the grace you preach and sing about for yourself, because restoration is just on the other side of repentance. Can you think of a better time than now for a U-turn?
You can also listen to the Pastor Talk podcast featuring Eric Geiger.