Everyone has a junk drawer, right? We have several, actually, but our primary junk drawer currently includes markers, pens, pencils, loose change, some screws and screwdrivers, batters – both dead and alive, remotes to long gone devices, small flashlights, a few marbles, and other odds, ends, and sundry items.
Every now and again, we clean it out. We throw away the dead batteries, put the loose change in the piggy bank, the tools go back to the garage, and peace and order are restored in our lives. Until… six months go by. Sound familiar?
To move beyond shame and regret, it’s necessary to repent of sinful choices and to renounce lies, both of which involve a cleaning out and getting rid of things that are unholy and unhealthy in our minds. But here’s an important warning: Now-empty spaces have a way of filling back up again.
In other words, the lies creep back in. The sinful choices pile back up. The vines and weeds of shame and regret creep back up slowly and somewhat inconspicuously until they’re choking the life out of our healthier patterns of thinking once again.
So what’s the solution? REPLACEMENT.
Renouncing lies must be followed up by replacing those lies with truth. In other words, we must retrain our minds to live and work by different patterns.
In David’s psalm of repentance, he voiced on God’s behalf:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
~ Psalm 32:8 NIV
So when you realize you’ve been doing life the wrong way and you discover that the Creator who designed you has a better Way, as embodied fully and perfectly by his Son, Jesus, you must cast away the former tools and pick up new ones.
You must learn truth. Read truth. Hear truth. Discuss truth. Meditate on truth. Affirm and declare truth. And you must learn to use truth in the moment of temptation. This is where real forward progress, away from the pain of shame and regret, begins to happen.
This, to me, is the strength of creeds and catechisms. None of them are infallible, but they serve as briefe, bullet-point reminders of what we have come to believe is true about God, self, sin, Jesus, and the world around us.
Quickly, write down a few bullet points concerning the truth you know about God. About who you are. About who your spouse is. About your life. And about eternity.
Then repeat those truths and retrain your mind for the battles ahead.