Quite a few years ago I was asked to speak on the topic of “Metanoia”. I have often bragged that I know a little Greek but I don’t always say that he lives on the Danforth in Toronto. Needless to say I had to do a bit of research to find out that Metanoia is a change of heart. The youngest son in the story of the Prodigal Father is a prime illustration of this kind of change of heart.
I meet people all the time who are remorseful. They make and continue to make poor choices. Some of these choices hurt others and all of them hurt my friends. The day after going out on a ‘bender’ or after a bitter fight with a spouse, these folks are tearfully remorseful. I feel sorry for them and commiserate because I know what it is to make poor choices and to have to live with the consequences, but my empathy does not lastingly benefit anyone. Remorse alone is a club with which we beat ourselves unless it leads us on to repentance or metanoia.
This week I had a conversation with a fellow who was in tears. “Why do I never learn?” he asked. He has felt this deep remorse many times before. He was beating himself and I really didn’t want to pile on at that moment. We chatted and prayed that day but the next day I had opportunity to say “You know that question you asked me yesterday about why you never learn?” and we went on to have a conversation about a change of heart that comes from deep repentance. He has a real uphill battle because his apologies and attempts to make amends are viewed quite sceptically. As we meet together we pray and cling to the promises of God. We know that we need to take a long view and not be discouraged by the difficult road in the immediate.
On a personal note, we now have one wedding down with one to go. It was great occasion. For me the best moment was watching my son as he watched his bride come down the aisle. Seeing him reminded me of seeing Linda come down the aisle. I remember thinking that there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her. Unfortunately that was a fleeting resolution because, as my Dad used to say “You could almost write a book” about things I failed to do for her since. But as David looked at Victoria I revisited that moment and gave thanks that though I fall so short of the ideal of love, Jesus totally fulfilled this ‘law of love’. There seem to be a lot of apocalyptic predictions for 2012 but if we can hold onto this unfailing love I believe it can be a great year. I pray it will be for you!