I have a confession to make – I can get lost almost anywhere and it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been to where I’m going. I can even get lost using the GPS. I mean if I miss one turn or exit, then it sometimes takes me forever to get back on the right path. This reminds me of a time when I was taking my god-daughter to Main Event. I had been to that place a few times before and every single time in the past I had missed the exit and this time was no different. When I tell you we must have circled around at least three times, getting on and off the highway – it was a crazy moment, but funny and we still laugh about it now. I don’t even remember how many U-turns I had to make that day, but eventually we finally made it and she had a good time, so it was worth it.
Thankfully I haven’t had too many places to go since the pandemic, LOL. I’ve been working from home since mid-March and for the most part it has been a blessing – especially the part about not having to sit in traffic five days out of the week. But, I think that lately cabin fever has begun to set in, so for the last few weeks I have been watching movies to get through the day while working. A little over a week ago, though, I realized that while I was watching all of these movies, I wasn’t making any time for God outside of daily prayer, so I started spending my mornings listening to sermons on YouTube before I watched anything else. When listening to one of the sermons, a pastor said something that hit me and it was very convicting, “There is no repentance without making a change; otherwise, you are just sorry for what you’ve done.”
I had to stop and ask myself “self, are you truly repentant or just sorry?“
Some may ask what’s the difference, after all they sound as if they could mean the same thing, but there really is a difference. If we experience true repentance, then we acknowledge our sin (call it what it is), seek the Lord’s forgiveness and then TURN away from sin with haste (an urgency). To be sorry (or to feel sorry) for something we have done is more of an emotional act and does not require regret of the past nor does it awaken a desire to move in a new direction towards righteousness and a more solid relationship with God, the father.
I think a scripture that is fitting for what God is requiring from the world today is 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” One thing that the world is experiencing right now is a strong prevalence of sin. Yes, I know that sin has always been present, but we are facing an overwhelming presence of corruption, chaos and lack of concern for the things of God. Just like me when I was trying to find my way to Main Event, we are missing our designated exits (or entrances), continuing to make the wrong turns, going in circles and going nowhere fast.
So, where do we go from here?
2 Chronicles 7:14 is all about repentance. This verse contains an “if” and “then” statement, which lets us know that one part must be completed to accomplish the other. The first part of the scripture was an instruction for what Israel needed to do so that God could carry out his part. But, why would God even need to give this instruction to Israel? In verse 13, God tells Solomon what would happen if the Israelites refused to change their wicked ways. God said that he would shut up heaven so that no rain would come as well as sending locusts to devour the land and sending plagues on the land. However, God also tells Solomon that IF they follow his instruction and do the four things in the order he commanded them, then they would hear from heaven, be forgiven of their sins and their land would be healed.
When I think about the land that God promises to heal, I don’t just think about land in a literal sense, but I also think of it as referring to my life. The world definitely needs to enter into a state of repentance and I’m not really sure how anyone can look at the state of the world and not see that collectively as a nation we need to fall to our knees. But one thing that will help this nation move into that direction is if we individually carry out in our own lives the same four things that God instructed the Israelites to do:
- Humble ourselves – We must come to terms with the fact that we have sinned in one way or another, acknowledge and confess to the Father that we have done wrong and behaved with too much pride. Be honest about those things that we have made our idols. Confess our disobedience. Be real about the areas in our lives where we are weak, where we struggle and where we need God’s grace and mercy.
- Pray – this is our invitation to go before the Lord, who already knows our every need, yet he longs to hear our voice. This is our opportunity to talk to God and to build a relationship with him. The more consistent our prayer life the deeper our relationship with him. This a time for us to confess our sins and ask him for forgiveness. A chance for us to carry our burdens to him and release them into his care. Prayer is a lifeline to God, the Father.
- Seek God’s face – When we seek God’s face, we are seeking his presence. God wants us to seek out everything about him – his attributes, his characteristics, his ways. Knowing these things allow us to put our faith in him and to trust him with our whole hearts. God made this request of his people because they had turned away from him. What a compassionate and loving God who will call us back to him when we abandon him and desires to share more of himself with us even after we reject him.
- Turn from their wicked ways – This is the part where it’s necessary to make a U-turn. When we recognize the fact that we are going the wrong way and have fallen off the path that follows God’s word, we MUST address the sin with a sense of urgency and commit to changing our ways immediately. There is no repentance without a turning away from something. “I’m Sorry,” says that we feel really bad about something we did but true repentance is a commitment to move away from sin and to move towards what is right and found to be pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
I think it’s safe to say that we are all needing something from God today. Some of us may have more pressing issues than the next, but we all need an answer from him sooner than later. But what if it is our sin that is holding back what we so desperately need from God? Disobedience henders our relationship with him, and has the potential to block so many of our blessings. Turning away from these things sets our feet on the path to righteousness.
So, where do we go from here?
When you make a u-turn while driving you turn the car 180-degrees and begin driving in the reverse direction. In life, repentance is essentially the same thing – we completely change and move in a new direction. One thing that is key in repentance is commitment. If we commit ourselves to God’s will then we are devoted to being intentional about living and moving in obedience in him, and making an immediate correction when we find ourselves off course.
Today is a chance for us all to self-evaluate whether we are “just sorry” for the things that we have done (or are doing) that did not bring (or are not) bringing God any glory, or are we truly repentant and willing to commit to turning from those things and walking in obedience to the word of God.
Where will you go from here?
True repentance is all about transformation.