“Many begin to repent but never reach the bottommost depravity of the heart.”
Martha Kilpatrick, “Repentance Brings Shocking Grace”
That was my approach for most of my life, and even now I can be tempted to defend my ways and myself. The bright Light of Christ isn’t a soft, cosmetic glow intended to warm the corpse-like pallor of humanity. It’s a searing, shocking inferno that blasts through hell’s cover of darkness and obliterates the simpering glamour we don so carefully. And in that blinding, holy Light, we can choose to either see things as they really are, or we can demand that the Light depart and opt to return to the shadows. Receiving this Light is life or death, but to be more exact, it is dying into LIFE.
Agony in the Light – Ours and Satan’s
The agony of the Light is very real. In its glare, I died. I died to my ideas of myself, who I believed myself to be. I died to how I hoped other people perceived me. I died to my ways of living and thinking. I died to the dreams I’d cherished. And most of all, I died to the presumption that I knew who God was. It was terrible and terrifying. And the more I saw, the less I thought I’d make it out. Of course, in every way that mattered, I didn’t. None of us do.
I see the Light as so much more than I used to, because He is infinitely more than we can see. When we choose the Light, all of heaven is free to move on our behalves against the darkness that holds us. The Light of the World, Jesus Christ, burns our flesh and the kingdom of darkness it serves. And the deeper we go into repentance, the more it lays waste to the enemy who enslaves us, the enemy that longs to separate creation from Creator for all eternity.
“I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:10 HCSB
I think this verse is more than it seems. I’m sure there is straightforward joy over the reconciliation to God of a lost soul. But I think that the joy might also be over the unleashing of God’s power against Satan that accompanies every true repentance. We know that deliverance comes with repentance, and that means the routing of the enemy. Would that not be a cause for great joy in the heavens? The Light ushered in that joy! The agony we experience in repentance is quite real, but we’re not the only ones feeling it. I’m astonished to realize that.
Joy in the Light – Ours and the Angels’
For a long time, I would only admit so much about myself before I stopped. I was in reality enough to know that it was bad, very bad, but without the Light, there was a whole world of wicked that I didn’t see. I didn’t really believe that God could truly love me, could completely forgive me for the whole truth, so I fought it. I defended and excused and bargained and demanded. Yet when the Light hit me, I somehow had the grace to stay in it. I was convinced it was the end, but it seemed cleaner to go out in the Light than to spend the rest of my life tormented by a truth I couldn’t change. I had to go through the Light, dying in it, stripped to the core, before I began to experience actual Life. I died, believing it was all over, only to find that it was all just beginning. That’s what the enemy was desperate to keep me from finding out. That’s what he whispers in every ear.
“The Light is mean and nasty. The Light hates you! It doesn’t know you; it lies about you. You’re really not that bad! This must be the enemy. After all, if God is so loving, why would He say such things to you? So hurtful and wrong!”
Though my repentance is less prolonged and intense now than that first death into salvation (mostly), it is still an agony when the flesh I’ve reanimated with my self-love dies under the Sword of Light. But though I’m tempted to defend myself against what the Light reveals, I know the unspeakable JOY that waits on the other side of my agony. And this joy that I share with God’s angels FAR surpasses the pain I share with the enemy.