“Machew Perr-ee—do not take away our blessing!” I’ll never forget that piece of advice. The year was 2009. The place? The Mount Beulah Evangelical Baptist Church in Point Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago. The one giving me the advice? My brother from another mother, Roddie Taylor who has pastored Mt. Beulah since 1988.
You see, I had gone to their church to do a number of crusades (what we would call revival services) and they wanted to give me a gift for my time there. I told them, “I did not come here for any kind of compensation.” “We know—but we want to give you this anyway.” After about three rounds of this back and forth, Roddie put his hand on my shoulder (I could still take you to the very spot where I stood) and told me, “Machew Perr-ee, do not take away our blessing!”
I repented and accepted their kind gesture—and a mutual blessing was dispensed.
You all have blessed our family with care, prayer, and “share,” in the form of meals, cards, and in many other intangible ways. Cindy is now back to work, our children are finishing up finals, and our Christmas break begins with a final week toward remembering the blessing God gave in the person of His Son, Jesus.
Yet, in order for me to get to this point of receiving blessings from others, I had to repent. Many years ago, Eugene Peterson wrote a book called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. In this book, he applies the Songs of Ascents in the Psalms (120-134) to our present time and has served as food for my soul. Here is his definition of repentance:
Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the strength, education and training to make it on your own; it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbors and your world. And it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you the truth. Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.
For the Christian, repentance is daily, hourly, moment-to-moment. We must rejoice when confronted by others who challenge our mindsets that bring us closer to loving God and loving neighbor as self (Matthew 22:34-40). “Don’t take away someone’s blessing.” Ceasing to repent is taking away the blessing God bestows on you to draw you closer to Him. Of what is He calling to you repent? See the blessing of repentance and restoration.
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018), 23.