Posts tagged: repentance

Seedling: Have You Given Permission?

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By Paula Marolewski, January 17, 2010 4:29 pm

“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?” – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

In C.S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce, there is a scene where an angel confronts a man tormented by lust, which is represented as a lizard perched on the man’s shoulder. The man wants to be free of the lust – which the angel says he can help him accomplish – but at first he tries to make excuses for keeping the lizard. In the course of his argument with the angel, he exclaims, “If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me – before I knew? It would all be over by now if you had.”

It is at that point that the angel says clearly, “I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”

There is a very great lesson here: God cannot and will not free us from sin unless we ourselves want to be freed. It isn’t enough to say, “Oh, if only I didn’t struggle with <fill in the blank>!” … if we keep on making excuses to continue in our course every time God offers to help us conquer our sin.

Do I sometimes wish God would override my free will “for my own good”? Yes, I do. But then I realize why he will never do so: he values me too much. He values my partnership in this journey called life. He values my love. He values my trust. He values my identity. He wants to pour out his power and grace and love and Spirit in my life, but he wants me to be an integral part of that outpouring. For that reason, he will not force himself on me, but is waiting patiently for my permission … and with it, my cooperation and submission … so that he can act on my behalf.

  • What sins are you struggling with regularly?
  • Do you want to be freed from these sins? Be completely honest. If you don’t really want to be free of one or more of these sins, why not?
  • How have you been cooperating with God to overcome these sins? How have you been hindering his work in your life?
  • Spend time in confession and repentance, and give God permission to do whatever is necessary to help you grow in holiness.


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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The Inadequacy of Being Sorry

By Paula Marolewski, August 27, 2009 7:05 am

When it comes to giving and receiving forgiveness, “I’m sorry” is not the same as “Please forgive me”:

  • “I’m sorry” focuses on me instead of on the person I hurt. “Will you please forgive me?” puts the focus appropriately on the injured party.
  • “I’m sorry” can be said in a vacuum and requires no response. “Will you please forgive me” and “Yes, I forgive you” are lifelines thrown across a broken relationship.
  • “I’m sorry” has become cheap. Do we really want to use the same word for everything from “sorry that I missed your phone call,” to “sorry that I can’t make the dinner engagement we had,” to “sorry that I murdered your son”?
  • “I’m sorry” may or may not acknowledge wrong-doing. I may just be sorry that you took offense at what I said or that I got caught red-handed in sin. “Please forgive me,” on the other hand, clearly acknowledges moral guilt.  
  • “I’m sorry” doesn’t necessarily require that we come down from our high-horse of pride. “Please forgive me” is by its very nature humbling: with the best kind of humility. It reinforces the fact that we are sinners, dependent on God’s grace, saved by faith, and working out our sanctification each day of our lives.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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