It was the green marble that spoke to me. It was not only a beautiful crystal and gleamed like a green jewel; it was really a big marble. Green was my favorite color.
I knew that Mother wouldn’t buy it for me. I had already done as much whining and begging as I could reasonably hope to get away with on this trip to town. I didn’t have the price of the marble. We were in a little hobby shop that Mother didn’t visit very often, and this was the only time I had ever seen a marble like this.
My hand moved very quickly. I was sure that the shop lady wasn’t looking—Mother, either—and the marble rested in the pocket of my jeans.
I didn’t look at it until I was in the car. But I wanted to see how the sunlight would shine through the greenness. I twisted away from Mother, and of course, she noticed how I moved.
“What do you have, Mark?”
Uh oh! I hoped that she was not familiar enough with what I had as to realize that this was a brand new addition. Silly hope! She kept up with me very well. Nor did she want her boy to be a thief.
Her eyes narrowed. “Did you get that in that store?”
I was concentrating fiercely on outwitting my watchful, determined Mom—too focused to realize that I was now not only a thief, but a liar, too.
She had drawn her conclusion—the correct conclusion. The car headed back the way we had come. My Mom frog-marched me into the store, green marble in her hand.
The store lady towered before me. “My son took this marble without paying for it,” my Mother informed her. “He has something to say to you.”
Not really. This is when it would be really useful to suddenly turn invisible. I knew what was expected of me. “He is sorry,” my Mother said. “He will pay for the marble.” She handed the marble to the lady.
I was supposed to pay for the marble and not have it, as well. I muttered that I was sorry, and I was—
Sorry that I had gotten caught.
“The sorrow of the world worketh death.”*
I did not want to repent. I was a sinner and I didn’t care that I was a sinner. I didn’t want the consequences of my sinning, but I wanted to do as I pleased.
I needed to repent. I had chosen to walk the path of a thief, and the disregard for others, the selfishness, and the laziness that characterize those who steal from others was beginning to form in me, but I had no godly sorrow, which leads to repentance.
Godly sorrow means you are sorry that you did it. It is grief that you have hurt God by your actions and attitude. It is also an abhorrence of one’s self. Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation (II Corinthians 7:10). It goes beyond regret. It goes beyond, “I wish I hadn’t done that.” Job gave something of the meaning of Bible repentance when he said, “I abhor myself and repent.”* Repentance is not only godly sorrow for sin and a determination to forsake it, but includes such loathing of self because of sin, as will result in confession and renunciation of all known sin. Godly repentance will lead to a complete change of conduct, and to newness of life (II Corinthians 5:17).
One man tried to repent, but he could not repent. He couldn’t find a place of repentance, even though he sought it carefully… with tears (Hebrews 12:17). There was a reason why he couldn’t find a place to repent. Esau didn’t think he had done anything wrong. He blamed Jacob for everything. Jacob had cheated him. Jacob had deceived him and his father. Jacob had stolen what was rightfully his. Jacob had taken advantage of him. Esau felt he was the injured party. He was the victim. Esau couldn’t abhor himself. Esau couldn’t have godly sorrow about hisactions. Esau couldn’t repent. It was all “Jacob, Jacob, Jacob.” No repentance.
“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”*
When I was seeking God to get saved, all my sins came up before me, one by one. The green marble came up, too. I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to do it any more. Forgive me.” Godly sorrow filled my heart. I was full of an abhorrence of myself. How could I have cared so little who I hurt with what I did? I was an awful person. I was wicked. It seemed that I was the most wicked wretch who had ever sinned. I repented of the theft. I repented of each sin that came up before me. Finally they stopped coming up. There were no more, and I was not sure what to do. Then I remembered that Jesus had died so that I could be forgiven, and my faith was inspired to believe. Instantly a great joy filled my heart. I was changed—so thoroughly changed, so different, that my younger brother (whom I had bullied and persecuted) realized I was a different boy.
“Repent ye, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.”*
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”*