Have you ever found yourself driving in the wrong direction on a one way street? It’s never happened to me that I can recall, but I can imagine that it would be somewhat of a distressing adventure! The hubby did it once on purpose. A few years back, we had stopped at the border for a quick snack before heading down to the U.S. when we noticed the traffic heading over the bridge was very backed up. We were hoping to fill up the gas tank south of the border expecting the prices would be cheaper. The fuel marker was almost on empty. We debated the gamble. Should we wait in traffic running the risk of stalling in the middle of the highway, or do we get gas in Canada and pay the price? News reports were saying the hold ups would take hours. Canadian gas it was…
As the family and I sipped our Timmies, the hubby went off to ask where the nearest gas station was. I should have known when he comes back a short time later with a “just stay here with the kids until I get back” statement and the look of “just don’t ask questions, okay?” glare in his eye. As it turns out, we were “past the point of no return” in the world of borders and duty free shopping … and there was no way of “going back” to the nearest gas station… unless… yup, you guessed it … a quick detour down the one way street against oncoming traffic to the next local turn off. I’m glad I was not witness to the acutely distressing (not to mention law breaking) act of going the wrong direction on a one way street! He didn’t tell me until some time later… after his survival and a full tank of gas.
So why do I bring up my husband’s misdemeanors for this post? I was reminded this week about the concept of repentance. I’m sure many of you have heard that true, biblical repentance means doing a “full turn around” from going in one direction to making the decision to go in exactly the opposite direction. Perhaps we think of this in much too simple terms… “oops, sorry God, I’ve sinned against you, gotta switch gears and ‘do better’ next time.” Yet, true repentance is really hard. It involves humbling yourself. It involves a broken heart and true sorrow. It’s scary and not always easy. It’s like going down that one way road that we’ve been sailing along on, only to turn in the opposite direction — and face the on coming obstacles heading straight for us! And you know there will be opposition when you are trying to do the right thing…
Many of the biblical time prophets spoke of this repentance. Their cries were for revival and change. They spoke of the doom and destruction that was to come if the people of the land refused to repent and turn back to God:
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heartJoel 2:11-14 NIV
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
Many folks showed “outward signs” of repentance… the tearing of clothes, the sitting in ashes, the presentation of sacrifices… still, God reminded them (and us!) that true repentance takes place in the heart, not in the rendering of garments. When heart changes happen, God blesses and is merciful. It’s so true, even today, our world is in need of real revival and a return to God. Our societies have travelled so far from His teachings, that we are going to need some major construction to happen on those one way streets before we all get going the right direction!
Well. How you feelin’ my friend? Is there a heart change you need to make? Do you need to experience the thrill of changing direction on that one way street you’ve been stuck on? Will the gas tank go empty if you don’t? May you find the courage to take the risk… and make a change of heart! Be blessed!