By Tony Cunningham
Much of life is defined by a delicate or not so delicate dance of our hearts, minds and souls. We choose to do whatever we want, then we are hit with a sickening feeling that reminds us this does not feel right and we turn back to what is good and right. The last move in this dance of turning back to what is good and right, of turning back to the source of life from our own ideas and of what we think will bring us joy, is what is called repentance. This dance is engaged not once in life, or even periodically, but continuously throughout every day of life. We do not live the way we want to live, we do not choose the good and right things of life, but continue to turn away from the source and somehow trust and believe that we have our own path to joy and happiness. It always comes up short. It always leaves us wanting. We then, whether immediately or after a struggle, turn back to the springs of life, to the water that does not leave us thirsty. Again, this is the real and practical application of repentance.
It’s crucial to remember that this turning back is not just turning to better behavior or a new idea of life. This turning back is not to a set of rules that are better because of trial and error over multiple generations. This turning back is fundamentally turning to God. Repentance is turning away from our own defined way to live and turning our hearts, minds, souls and wills to God. Only if we turn to God are we truly turning away. To completely repent is experiencing disappointment and regret, oh how this happens so often, turning away, and then turning to God in faith. This full experience is probably the most common act of life, much like eating or maybe even more like breathing. Again, in the life well lived, it is not something we visit infrequently, but nearly a continuous turning away and turning to. A reminder of our utter dependence on our Creator that without Him we wander quickly and often.
Be encouraged today that our God knows this is the dance we struggle through and provides us encouragement. Paul in Romans 7 that says “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…” Tim Keller expresses a helpful perspective of this dance with guilt and shame this way; Legalistic remorse says, “I broke God’s rules,” while real repentance says, “I broke God’s heart.” Be encouraged friends, we are not alone. Turn back to our infinite source of everything good, our loving God, and away from the things that keep us from the Lord.