“Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.” Joel 2:13b
The word “repent” is often thrown around in Christian circles and in churches, and I can’t help but wonder if there are many people out there that are left clueless as to what this word really means. Just this past weekend, I had a conversation with a group of Junior High students about this very word. Some of them had an idea of what it might be, but many of them met my question with blank stares. It sounds harsh and demanding, and the dictionary will offer you all manner of wordy definitions. Yet it bears such a simply meaning:
Repent: to turn from
Let me put it this way. You’re heading in one direction. You stop, make a U-turn, and decide to now go in the opposite direction. Naturally, in Scripture, this word refers to a turning from our sin. Whenever we’re given the command in God’s Word to repent, we are being told to turn from anything in our lives that we are pursuing that opposes truth, holiness, and righteousness (anything that doesn’t please God) and to decide to go in the opposite direction in pursuit of Christ. Throughout the Old Testament, God sent many prophets to speak on His behalf to the nation of Israel, and this call to repent and return to the LORD was a common theme woven throughout their different messages. Israel had wandered so far away from God that they were literally to the point of sacrificing their own children on the altar of false, pagan gods. It was this urgent plea to “return to the LORD” that passed through the lips of many of the prophets, and this very plea might be a much needed reminder for you and I today.
Is there a part of your life that needs a returning to the LORD? Do you need to make a U-turn today? Perhaps you have walked faithfully with the LORD for years, but there is this one sin issue that continues to rear its ugly head in your life again and again seeking to master you and defeat you.
Return to the LORD.
Maybe you are new to faith and in your new pursuit of Christ, you are finding it difficult to let go of some of those “past pleasures” that seem so enticing.
Return to the LORD.
You might find yourself in a season of brokenness, surrounded by grief and pain, having no idea how to pull yourself off the ground. Hear this truth today – you don’t need to pick yourself up. Return to the LORD. He will lift you up. He will restore what has been broken. He will revive those dead places in your heart. Return to the LORD. Make a U-turn today, a beeline back towards Jesus. He is the lover of your soul and the only One who can truly satisfy.