A lengthy dialogue revealed some serious pockets of rebellion in his life, areas he knew to be wrong but didn’t really want to give up. It was at that point I humbly suggested that in order for him to find greater “deliverance” in his life he needed to turn from those sins which were seriously quenching his spiritual life. I’m not sure that was the answer he was looking for.
Frankly, he wanted something much more “sexy” – some kind of supernatural quick fix that demanded more of God than him. He wanted something to happen to him that would let him see how high the Holy Spirit caused him to jump, but he was much less concerned with the Holy Spirit’s work in how straight he should walk when he hit the ground. I have a feeling he didn’t recommend me to many of his friends because the only guidance I really gave him, outside of connecting with fellow believers for strength, was to repent. Needless to say, he was rather nonplussed by the suggestion. Each time I would call him to repentance he would try to coax me into another route – cast out a demon, slay him in the Spirit, etc., and each time I would give him the same answer.
“I know. Don’t tell me. Repent.” His head buried in his hands.
Sensing his frustration I tried to let him know that I wasn’t trying to be naïve to his situation or calloused to his story, but based on what he had told me, repentance seemed to me the most appropriate path for him to walk. And to each call to repentance he’d reply, “But…” You can fill in the blank. It doesn’t matter, the answer is still the same, “But I still want to do what I have been doing.”
I’ve come to see in the pastoral part of ministry that repentance is the great equalizer. It takes on all who want spiritual guidance and separates the contenders from the pretenders by exposing those who really want to change from those who just want you to do it for them.