The Goodness of God!
God gave me a gift that I have been asking Him for, that I have been appearing repeatedly before His throne to pray about. He answered my prayer, and the answer is full of His abundant goodness.
Curiously, the answer came the day after one of my worst days, a day when I behaved particularly badly, gave way overmuch to the indulgences of the flesh, wasted time scandalously, and went to bed feeling guilty for having failed to walk in the light.
The next day: God's response? Boom! Your prayer is answered. The thing you have so long desired is granted.
Ah, the goodness of God!
Smitten by the consciousness of my failings, I look to him with a heart that leaps full of love and gratitude, staggered with amazement at His mercy. Part of me cries out, "Don't you see my shortcomings? Don't you want to frown in disapproval and close off your heart to me for my sin? You know better than anybody that I DO NOT DESERVE THIS!" Another part of me cannot help but rejoice in His bounty. More than anything, the hard, guilty heart that instinctively seeks to withdraw and hide from His presence in sullen defiance is coaxed back out into the light, melted by His gentleness.
God doesn't lead us to repentance by holding staunchly to the strictness of the law and waiting for us to get our act together before He will make a move in our favor. He leads us to repentance by His goodness. His goodness! His lovingkindness! His love that loved us first, before we ever loved Him! His tender mercy! His gentle, compassionate touch! He overwhelms the guilty heart with goodness, goodness, and more goodness, until that heart cries out, "Ah, Lord God! You are good, and I am evil, and your goodness is so beautiful that I give up! I yield!"
So then, how dare I treat a child or a brother or a lost soul with anything other than the goodness of God that God has shown me?
God leads me to repentance with His goodness. Do I seek to lead others to repentance with my hardness?
God melts my heart by loving me so tangibly that I overflow with the astonishment of it all. Have I ever done that with a sibling or a student or a sinner?
Hardness breeds more hardness, but goodness breeds repentance. Who would have thought?