Repentance: turning from sin with contrition to God.

Most times when God shows me another of my sins, I throw a fit in one of its various forms—denial that it happened, doubling down, arguing with God that it’s not a sin at all. Sooner or later, after I’ve come to the end of myself, I realize the best thing I can do is to let that sin go. But it’s not easy. 

At moments like now, I get a picture of me holding on to my sin and carrying it around like a large stone as I walk back and forth along the banks of the east side of the Jordan River. As I look across the river, west into the Promised Land, I experience a growing sense that I’m supposed to be over there, in fact, that I’ve been there before.

So here I am, pacing the east banks, feeling very much as if I’ve awakened from one of those agreeable dreams people prefer to reality. And I see that I’m clutching some new sin; or, more likely, a repackaged old one I thought I was done with. Either way, I know the routine and I’m ready to be done with it—for good. So I confess to God every detail of my unholy connection and set that sin down. An encouraging start, but I know if I stand too long before my sin, I’ll only pick it up again—that I’ll only truly be free of it when I head in a different direction, across the river. “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” So says Proverbs (28:13); so says the Book of James, in different words (4:10); and therefore, so says God. So I get moving. 

Oh, and it’s a promising passage. I sense God is with me, holding back the threats and challenges, just like he held back the waters for Joshua and the Israelites (Josh. 3:14-17). And the way is hopeful and revitalizing to both body and soul. Still, it’s another new journey and, admittedly, I’m feeling vulnerable to the process. I keep crossing anyway.

When I reach the other side, it’s everything I had hoped for, and I wonder why I waited so long to choose this. For there are many wonderful familiarities, like freedom, and peacefulness within, and the closeness with God I’d been missing. Even more could be said, but the upshot is that I remain there on the good side of the river for a long while; till, it would be accurate to say, I take my focus off Jesus for a time. And the next thing you know…

I’m awakened east of the river, pacing the banks: “Good grace! Now what?” The process repeats for every sin God reveals to heart and mind, that’s what—which is okay by me, because my true home is on the other side of that river, and God knows that no world, flesh, or devil is going to keep me out of it for long.

Now that’s just a word picture, so take it for what it’s worth. But it sure seems to fit the reality of my ongoing walk with God. This is repentance as I see it. And that is that.

I hope this encourages you to better understand repentance today.

Kevin Murray

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