The other day on my way to an appointment, I completely missed the street I was supposed to turn on. I had been looking for it, but as I chatted with my passenger, I became distracted and drove right past my turn off.
A couple of miles down the road, an uneasiness rumbled in my stomach.
Could I have not seen the street?
I mentioned to my friend my confusion and the street I had been looking for. “Oh, it’s back there. Right after the bridge.”
How did I get so mixed up that I missed it?
Naturally, I turned around as soon as possible and went back to the place I made my mistake. Within minutes, I was heading the right direction, anxiety gone. From that point, my friend and I navigated to our destination.
The incident reminded me of repentance.
It’s a word most of us don’t like. We cringe and pull away from the idea of it maybe recalling a man yelling on a street corner about us going somewhere awful.
But the word actually means to turn back or turn around.
We can think of it as changing our mind. Not continuing to think the way we’ve been thinking.
Changing our direction.
Like in my story, a few things can get us headed in the wrong direction:
- We may be easily distracted and get off track.
- We may make a mistake in ignorance and miss the mark.
- We may believe that our way is right or best even though we are wrong.
The good news is that God is faithful to help us discover our blunder by:
- That uneasy feeling in our heart or mind – it alerts us to stop and check things.
- Someone points out our mistake.
- We end up stuck at a dead end or lost and confused.
When we see our dilemma, God offers help and relief not judgment. The quicker we are to acknowledge our mistake, and turn around, the sooner we will find peace. The correct road opens up, and we are moving forward in life again.
Here are some indications we are repentant people:
- If we’re willing to say “I was wrong.”
- If we’re willing to be corrected.
- If we are horrified by what we have done – acknowledging the damage or potential hurt to God, ourselves and others who may be affected by our choice.
- If we don’t get stuck in beating ourselves up. True repentance removes our sin and the guilt.
- If we are willing to let go of our wrong conclusion and embrace truth in its place.
- If we don’t presume that we’re simply misunderstood and can make others believe our misconception if we just keep telling them enough times.
- If we are willing to accept consequences of our wrong choices.
God encourages us to make a U-turn.
He wants us to have a good journey and end up in good places. So much so that if we keep on the wrong path, he will allow the pressure of consequences to turn us away from something that will end up hurting us worse than the pain of the situation.
At one point in my life, I hated the idea of repentance.
Being wrong about anything brought shame, condemnation and meant awful things would happen to me so I determined at a young age that I simply couldn’t ever be wrong. Obviously that didn’t work out very well. All of us make mistakes for any number of reasons and denying that we do drags us into stuck dead-end roads in life. I confess it’s not always easy to change our mind and go a different way. But if we want to move forward in life, it’s a choice we must make.
This resource, Fruitful Repentance by Daniel Brown, is what helped change my thinking.
I guess that means it helped me repent.