Repentance and Resurrection

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was
raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:4, 10-11

In a city where I once lived, there was a quiet little chapel built to the side of the main sanctuary of a church. It had a wonderful crucifix over its altar, and above that an exquisite old stained-glass window depicting the risen Christ. I had learned to walk in the Spirit and knew the joy of the Lord. The ministry He entrusted me with, however, was growing rapidly. It was then that I learned to work into my life, as Agnes Sanford refers to it, a rhythm of repentance and resurrection. I was so busy serving the Lord and helping others that I usually had little or no conscious knowledge of sin and pride in my heart, but I learned to set aside a time to be very quiet, letting Him show me the repenting I needed to do, and the changes I needed to make in my life. At these times, I would go to this little chapel and there look up to the crucifix.

Then when I knew what to repent of, I would in prayer take my stand in His cross and with Him die to it. Sometimes this would take awhile. Having died once again with Him to the old man or self, I would (before rising from my knees!) look up to the stained-glass depiction of Him as risen Savior and take my place in His rising, all the while exulting in my forgiveness and true identity in Him.

I no longer have access to this wonderful little chapel, but this practice is firmly planted in my heart. All of us have access to Christ’s cross, and to build in such a rhythm of dying and rising with Christ is surely the way we stay spiritually and psychologically healthy. [1]

Whether we’re busy serving and helping, or caught in the cares and snares of the world, we need God to search and know us. In Lent the Church calls us to linger in the chapel of the heart, quieting ourselves under our Lord’s merciful gaze. He knows the perils of our journey intimately, and longs to cleanse and restore. Let’s give Him the time it takes to do this work, for our good and His glory.

Come, Holy Spirit. Help us walk in newness of life by showing us where we’ve gone astray. Strengthen us in these desert days that we might be still and welcome Your probing kindness. Lead us to repentance, merciful One. Reveal the subtle sins that our eyes can’t see. Give us grace to invite You in to the secret shame we hide from all others. Teach us this rhythm of dying and rising with You.

[1] Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1991), 63.

Stained glass by Ott Freres, in a church in Gimbrett, France, Resurrected Christ.