“For thus saith the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest shall ye be saved: in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength….’ ”
– Isaiah 30:15 KJV
One thing led to another over coffee, and soon it was like a lightbulb. What is the true meaning of repentance? Is it a guilt-induced flagellation? Pious acknowledgement of wrongdoing?
Beating ourselves up seems like a good – or maybe the only – idea at the time, but just ends up as a cheap imitation of the scourging Jesus took for us. It does nothing except lead to more guilt, more fear, and a ravaged, bloody soul in need of a Saviour once again.
So what then? Ignoring our sin isn’t the answer. Pretending like we are really ok isn’t either.
A turning of our hearts. A lifting of our tear-stained and imploring faces to The Perfect One. The Compassionate One. The Soul-Lover.
Turn. Re-turn. Again, and again, and again. Turning back to the One who made us. Turning back to the One who had a choice whether or not to bring us into existence and then said yes! She is a good idea.
There is only one way to be ok in this world.
Turning to him. Repentance is changing the direction of our view, off of ourselves (for attempting to beat our own soul into submission is still a focus on self) and onto Jesus. And saying “Yes, Lord, it is only You. It only ever was you.”
This conversation came about as we spoke of order… what God’s order is, what does it mean to live ordered lives. I’d been reading about order, how God formed everything and it was ordered and beautiful… then proceeding to look around my home and seeing books and children strewn everywhere, emotions and frustrations splattered like so much spilled milk.
How can I ever have order in my home? It looks so completely impossible.
I have started so many mornings with a determination that it’s going to look different today.
That we are going to have a good day.
I’m going to be a good mommy. I’m going to teach my children not to pick their noses or fights, and multiply multiple digit numbers. If I’m really good and they are too, I’ll still be smiling at the end.
We are going to be ordered. Our house. Our schooltime. The 2 year old. And when towels are folded neatly and there’s no mess on the floor then we will all be cheerful and I will waltz barefooted and singing through the house while they all play happily for hours after completing school and chores with no complaining.
I’ve had the wrong idea about order.
Order is returning. Order is lifting our focus on him. Order is knowing who God is and who I am as a result. Ordering our minds means lifting our faces to His so that I have it all in the correct perspective. It’s knowing who He is so that I can know who I am in Him.
Who He is and Whose I am.
This is true order.
And as we sipped coffee and tears ran, I explained that my mental battles and panic attacks in the past had come in many ways from a lack of understanding who God is…. the absolute truth that He is complete love and completely and totally understands and accepts me. And that He knows me and all my warts and messiness and still wants me.
Still calls me His.
Still wraps love warm around me.
So, then, as I consider what order and repentance is, I believe that when I turn to Jesus, I am practicing repentance. Returning.
It is then that I am ordered. Turned toward Him, my mind and heart are correctly positioned.
All of this leads me to mindset that I’ve been searching for.
How to parent in the midst of chaos?
How to have an orderly home and an ordered school?
Guess what. It doesn’t come from perfect habits or doing it like the other homeschool moms. It doesn’t come from the just-right curriculum or getting up at a certain time.
It must begin with repentance-returning. Ordering my heart, aligned with His.
Knowing Whose I am.
The overflow of this will result in a correct perspective about the messes, the dirt, and the disobedience. It doesn’t have to make me panic or nag or despair. If I know Whose I am, it is then that I have the grace and ability to show my children Whose they are. If my heart is ordered with Christ’s, I then have the opportunity to immerse our days in creation – showing my children God’s great ideas, whether it be a worm’s wiggle, the splendid order of mathematics, the miraculous workings and design of the human body. This is education of the truest form – pointing my children to God, to His creation, and ultimately above all, His tender love for each one.
The kind of love that doesn’t scourge because…
He already bent low to receive the whipping we needed.
The kind of beauty that is painted like a personal love letter in the form of a sunrise. A magnificent spreading tree. Stars strewn sparkling in the heavens. Dew fresh on green grass. Autumn-fired leaves sprinkled on the dirt road.
But this isn’t the most beautiful thing He made.
He made us. He made our children. And we are not mere mortals – in fact, as C.S. Lewis said, “You have never met a mere mortal.” We are eternal beings, destined for mansions and beauty, created for the Master’s glory-giving.
This awes me. That I would be given the privilege and opportunity to return and rest in God-order.
That I could touch the face and comb the hair and teach a mind that God made.
The dirty dishes? The angry face? The strewn blocks? The impossible feelings of failure?
These are all manageable when my heart and mind is resting in His heart.
When I remember Whose I am.
When I remember the God-man, face contorted in agony, body and heart broken and bruised and scourged, just so He could welcome me into His kingdom.
He already was beaten. There is no more sacrifice, and there is no more condemnation.
Knowing this gives rest to the thoughts that overwhelm, and make it possible to simply do the most important thing in the moment, whether it be reading out loud, explaining a new concept, snuggling with the 3 year old, or taking a nap. I don’t have to worry about coming up with system, because I can trust that God will show me what is most important, and help me develop rhythms in our home that work the best for us.
Returning. Rest. Repentance. Order.
This is where it all begins.
Rest, Beloved. Return.