My life was dark and aimless paths
On which I trod to find a place,
To ease my ever burdening load
And feel the warmth of love's embrace.
I had not seen the sign that read:
"The Path of Waywardness and Death,”
Nor who it was that tracked behind
And sought to steal my very breath.
As I walked along the way
Cares, regrets, and endless strife
Began to weigh upon my soul,
'Til I prayed to God, "Come into my life."
There were no harps, no angels singing,
No awesome vision, nor heavenly sign,
But just a turning from where I was going,
To walk the path were His light shined.
Now He leads me in His purpose
And I have peace within His grace.
All my burdens He has lifted
With arms of love and warm embrace.
Written by Sandy Blackburn (date unknown)
This was a poem I wrote many years ago to share my experience before and after receiving Jesus into my heart. I wasn’t raised in a church. I met Jesus when I was 15.
Today I want to take you on a journey to understand repentance. First, let’s start with a definition: repent in the Greek is metanoia and means to change one’s mind. I was taught that it basically meant to turn around and go in an opposite direction. If I apply it to faith, it would be coming to the understanding that my way was the wrong way, repenting, (changing my mind), agreeing with God that his way is the right way, and changing my direction. It implies sorrow regarding my previous behavior or path and a desire to change.
We live in the age of grace, where freedom from the religious laws reign supreme. (For which I am eternally grateful.) But here in the following scripture we see that it is God’s kindness being extended to us as he waits for us to repent.
Do the riches of his extraordinary kindness make you take him for granted and despise him? Haven’t you experienced how kind and understanding he has been to you? Don’t mistake his tolerance for acceptance. Do you realize that all the wealth of his extravagant kindness is meant to melt your heart and lead you into repentance?Romans 2:4 (TPT)
Read the next verse.
But because of your calloused heart and refusal to change direction, you are piling up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.Romans 2:5 (TPT)
Paul challenges us to change direction. It is a reminder that Jesus didn’t take the punishment of our sin so we could continue to sin, but to make a way for us.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.Isaiah 53:6 (ESV)
I titled this blog post: Which Way Are You Facing? The reason I chose this title is because of this verse:
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
On first glance this seems contradictory to my understanding of scripture. Because if you look at this next scripture from Matthew, God isn’t making any sense.
For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you…Matthew 15:19-20 (NLT)
Now I’m pretty sure God does not want these desires fulfilled. So how do we change the desires of our heart? The clue here is to “delight yourself in the Lord.” Another way to put it would be to agree or align with the Lord. Remember repenting is not just feeling bad about something but changing your mind about something, in this case agreeing with God. When I face toward God it is impossible not to delight in him. When I face toward my natural, worldly, or selfish desires I am walking in the wrong direction. I am facing away from God.
Let’s read Paul’s advice:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV)
The flesh and the Spirit are opposed, (opposite directions.) if I am facing the Spirit of God, walking toward him, I will change my desires.
Here’s what James has to say:
So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will flee in agony. Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you. But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting. Feel the pain of your sin, be sorrowful and weep! Let your joking around be turned into mourning and your joy into deep humiliation. Be willing to be made low before the Lord and he will exalt you!James 4:7-10 (TPT)
I always thought James was so severe telling us to be sad instead of being joyful, but in The Passion Translation I understand his meaning — be repentant. I also like this translation of “draw near to God” as “move your heart closer.” If we are talking about heart’s desires, moving my heart closer to God will transform my desires, aligning them with his desires.
One final thought. King David was a sinful man. He was an adulterer and a murderer, yet he was referred in scripture as a man after God’s own heart. Many of the Psalms are an open book of his struggles. He is a great example of turning toward God. We can pray his words over our own wandering.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.Psalm 51:10 (ESV)
Whew! That was a long post for me. I even deleted a scripture or two. I pray my words help you in some way. I pray you will find delight in following the Lord, that his Holy Spirit will guide you down his glorious path.
Grace & Peace,