Do you ever feel like you’re the only bird on the wire that’s upside down? Things aren’t going your way?
It’s funny how we sometimes think repentance means not getting to do what we enjoy. I like the explanation of “repentance” on patheos.com:
The Greek word for repent in the New Testament is “metanoeo” which means “to change one’s mind” and this involves a turning from sin with contrition to God. It’s like you headed out for a drive down the freeway but you went down the wrong way and were now headed in the wrong lane and the traffic was now coming straight at you. You need to turn around and go the other way.
Imagine those remote-control toy cars that only drive in a forward direction. They have a tendency to drive right into a corner and get stuck there. We know the little car isn’t going to get anywhere. But it will continue banging into the wall until it runs out of power or damages itself.
So it is with the unrepentant person.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
If the toy car turned around (repented) and faced away from the wall, there are a lot of possibilities for moving forward. But it doesn’t turn. Silly car.
When I am stuck in life, my initial tendency is to blame circumstances or people for my inability to move forward. True: I first look for someone else to blame. Eventually, though, I come to a place of humility and accept the truth: I am the one that insists on driving into the wall instead of turning the other way. I really don’t need anyone’s help to drive into a corner.
It is remarkably easy to get into, and stay in, this situation. Maybe my rebellious streak is bigger than yours but we all have one. Some examples:
- I bought these awesome (and expensive) shoes that make me feel good about myself. But now I stress over unpaid bills. And not tithing. And not being charitable. Oh hey! There’s a half-price sale at the shoe store this weekend!
- I’ll have the foot-long cheesesteak, please. Now I can’t fit in my pants. And I feel miserable from eating too much. Hmm, I’ll get a large pizza for dinner tonight.
- I overslept! Then I drive like a crazy person in rush-hour traffic, scaring the other drivers and being filled with anxiety about being late to work. Last night I really wanted to watch the end of that ball game so I stayed up late. At least there’s another game on tonight.
- That guy at work is so difficult to work with. Even though our project is late, I’m not going over to his office today; I can’t deal with him.
Because these are simple examples of choosing not to repent, it’s easy to see why insisting on one direction is not going to go well. If we continue to choose unwisely, things are unlikely to get better. In fact, they may get much worse.
On the spiritual journey, God is transforming us from self-centered to self-less. If we are faithful and surrendered to Him, we’re going to spend quite a bit of time repenting.
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Isaiah 66:1-2
Our sinful nature puts us into the wall. Turning to God opens the windows of heaven: opportunities for peace, joy, forgiveness, reconciliation, and intimacy with our Father.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37
Sure, sometimes we are harmed by others. Yet we often choose things that cause us harm, or to prolong the damage by not making changes. I’m not saying all our problems are self-inflicted. But perhaps we should conduct an examination to be sure we’re not the reason we keep driving into the wall.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24