Myrtle Beach Reflections ~ Part 2
Have you ever noticed that the trip home from a vacation seems to take twice as long as the trip to your destination took? I know it isn’t really the case, but when we were getting ready to drive home from Myrtle Beach this past weekend, I knew that the 6 hour trip was certain to feel like a lot longer. However, being the goal-oriented gal that I am, once I got in the van and hit the “Go Home” button on our GPS, I leaned back and zeroed in on getting to the end of the journey as quickly as possible. I was so focused that I didn’t even really want to stop to eat, but by 1:45p and the fourth round of questions from the kids about when we would get lunch, we decided to head off the highway toward the closest fast food restaurant. I’d barely swerved onto the exit ramp when the strong male voice of my GPS barked at me … … “Recalculating!” … … “Recalculating!”
Usually after that annoying announcement, the unit will quickly offer an alternate route, but this time it didn’t. Instead, it just kept pestering me to turn around and go back the way I had come. I couldn’t help but almost chuckle when at one point the voice even said “Please make a U-Turn!” I didn’t realize it till we had our food and were back on the highway that my persistent GPS wasn’t just getting me back to the quickest way home, it was also illustrating to an important spiritual principle.
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32
God offers us absolute forgiveness for any and every sin. There’s not anything that you have done or that has been done to you that the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cover. His work on the cross is indeed that powerful, and that complete. But in order to consistently walk in godliness, there will be times when believers need to repent. Now I know that repentance isn’t a popular word these days. It seems almost archaic with today’s “do whatever you want” mentality. . But the truth is that repentance is an essential discipline for walking with God.
So what is repentance? A lot of people equate it with being sorry, but there’s more to it than just a feeling of regret. People can feel sorry for getting caught, sorry that an event happened, sorry that things can’t change or even sorry because of guilt. Those emotions can be part of the process, but experiencing remorse alone isn’t enough. Let me use my trip off the highway as an outline for the steps to complete repentance.
Recognize – As I headed down the off ramp, my GPS instantly alerted me that I was off track. The Holy Spirit, your conscience and the Word of God are in constant operation in your life to warn you when you stray off the path of righteousness. When they sound an alarm in your spirit, it’s important to heed their instructions immediately. The quicker you acknowledge your error, the faster you’ll be able to get back to where you need to be, and the less time you’ll have wasted wandering from your destination.
Decide – Not only did I have to recognize I was off-track, I had to decide what I was going to do about it. I could have consulted the paper map in the glove box, but the one I have is years out of date and would only give me what might appear to be the best route. The GPS has access to updated data including road construction, traffic flow and other unknown obstructions, and with satellite technology, it has a view from above to accurately plot the best course to get me home the fastest way with the least amount of complications. In life, you can choose to ignore the alarm of the Spirit of God and construct a course of your own making, but from your limited vantage point, you have no idea what lies ahead nor even if the road you’re on will ever lead where you want to go. The biggest – and most important- part of repentance is this point of decision. It isn’t enough to just know you are off course, or even feel bad about it. You have to hear what God says about where you are headed and then, consciously and deliberately, agree that He is right, you are wrong and decide to go in His direction.
Return – Once I agreed that my GPS was right, the obvious next step was to actually make that U-turn (after McDonald’s) and head back in the other direction. Action is the last part of genuine repentance, but many people fail to take this final step. They have real remorse over their decisions and even believe God knows best, but never really take action necessary to get back onto His right path. That’s often because it means returning to where you made your first wrong turn, and most don’t want to do that. I get it. Dealing with sin is uncomfortable. It seems like it would be easier to just forget about our wanderings, ignore where we’ve been, and take another route. However, remember that restoration always happens at the point of departure.
So… are you off track in your life somewhere? Is there a relationship that led you astray? A habit that consistently causes you to drift? Or an attitude that leads you astray? What led you to where you are? Don’t let this post be an academic study of a biblical principle. Make it personal. With God’s help, think through your current position clearly. Do you recognize where you are? Have you decided His way is the right way? And are you ready to return to Him? His way will always be the most direct and safest route to where you really want to be!
“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. …