We have a saying in AMI: "It's not what happens to you that matters, it's how you respond to it."
I'd like to take that even further: It's not what you did that matters, it's how you respond to it.
If you read 1 Kings 21, you will see a very interesting narrative. It tells the story of a weak and insecure leader, King Ahab, his wife Jezebel, and how to respond when you have failed in sin, miserably.
The story starts out with Ahab desiring his neighbor's beautiful vineyard. Like a good businessman, he approaches the owner, Naboth, asking to make a deal. But he is rebuffed when Naboth says that he can't do it, because the law of Moses says that you cannot give away your family's inheritance. What the Lord gave was supposed to stay in your family forever.
So Ahab goes back to his palace and is depressed because he couldn't get his way. He was so depressed that he didn't even want to eat.
Perhaps you have been depressed like this before. There are many causes of depression, but the main one, the one Ahab had here, was a wrong (that means sinful) response to a problem.
Ahab knew what was right. And even if he didn't, he found out from Naboth, and he had the opportunity right there to say,
"Okay, this is the Lord's way, I will submit." But unfortunately he didn't do that, so his wife Jezebel comes in and says that she will get the vineyard for him. In a nutshell, she signs letters in Ahab's name, and frames Naboth.
She got some false witnesses in, and as a result, Naboth was stoned to death. Jezebel then tells Ahab, "Here you go, take possession of your new prize!"
So he goes and takes it, but what do you know, waiting there for him is Elijah. The Lord speaks through Him and basically curses him for his despicable sin. It's really quite a curse. Not just on him, but on his whole house. But here is the part I want you to see.
1 Kings 21: 27-29:
“And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. 28 And the word of the LORD [Yahweh] came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,Because Ahab humbled himself, because he responded correctly, the Lord showed mercy. Sure his actions had repercussions, just like ours do. The Lord will always forgive us, but sometimes what was done cannot be undone.
29 See you how Ahab humbles himself before me? Because he humbles himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: [but] in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.”
But no matter where you are right now, we can all learn from Ahab's failure. He could have done what was right from the very beginning. He could have been content with all that God had given him, instead of lusting for more.
He could have let it go, when Naboth said no. He could have said no to Jezebel when she said she would get the land for him. But fortunately enough for him, this time, he did the right thing.
How many times in your life have you faced this same scenario? You start going down a path that you know that the Lord doesn't want you to go down. And all along the way He gives you little opportunities to turn away.
The best thing is never to go down that path in the first place, but if you do, know that it is never too late to turn and submit yourself to the Lord.
No matter if you've failed out right, or just heading down where you shouldn't, it doesn't matter. What matters is how you respond. What matters is what you are going to do about where you are right now.
Are you at a place right now where the Lord is tugging on your heart and bringing you to a place of conviction? If so, just surrender. As the Word says, "Rend your heart and not your garments." Ask the Lord to create a right spirit in you because the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart.
And you can rest assured that as you do this, you will experience the peace and freedom and joy that comes from walking in the will of the Lord!
In His Grace,