My faith has been a little crooked lately. The picture of faith I have hanging in my home office, that is. For weeks now, when I look at it from a certain angle, it’s just not hanging straight.

The little red and gold picture is hanging on the wall in front of my treadmill; it was a birthday gift from dear friends in the year when everything changed. Celebrating my birthday while recovering from cancer surgery called for great faith. So my friends gave it to me in a frame, suitable for hanging.

But over the past few weeks, each time I saw that my faith was hanging a little crooked, I just tried to straighten by tapping the corner a little. Down a little on the right, usually. Sometimes I’d have to tap the other side because I had overcompensated. But even though the tapping seemed to fix it, the next time I checked, my faith was still a little off.

One day it dawned on me that I should probably take the picture off the wall and start over: a complete realignment. So, I took my faith down for a moment, and before putting it back up, I checked the hanger on the back and the nail in the wall to be certain they were stable. It’s one thing for my faith to be a little off; it’s entirely another thing for it to come crashing down in the night. 

Then, convinced that my faith problem was nothing more than an alignment issue, I rehung it. Straight this time.

My faith on the wall isn’t the only faith that needed an adjustment. The faith in my heart has been hanging a little crooked too. Some days, I tap it a little with prayer or some Bible reading, and it seems straight again. But only for a while. Soon, I’m looking at it and wondering why it’s just not hanging right.

Then, a recent revelation. My faith needs the straightening of true repentance. I need to take my faith down, examine it according to truth that God has revealed. And when I find again that my faith has become crooked and distorted by sin, I need to feel deeply the godly sorrow only Jesus can bring and move into repentance. Not just the recognition of sin, not just the grieving over it, but also the change in behavior. Putting my faith back on the wall. Straight this time.

This time, the crookedness of my faith was as subtle as that picture on the wall — only slightly off kilter, and just from a certain angle. It wasn’t one bad decision, but a hundred little ones. But even the small-scale strays of our faith need turned around by the true repentance only Jesus requires. They might take us longer to notice, because we spend so much time tap, tap, tapping on the corners, trying to make it look right.

But in the end, all repentance, all straightening and re-aligning our faith, is about seeing, grieving, and leaving our sins the way Jesus wants us to.

“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” Acts 17:30

Today, I am writing in community with Ann Voskamp and friends, sharing about “Repentance and Renewal: Looking to the New Year.” See what others have posted by clicking on the button below.

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