Thursday, October 4, 2012

Changing Directions

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19

Way back in the 70’s…remember then? Hairstyles were a bit different than today.  Particularly for us guys...  Many men parted their hair in the middle, and ‘feathered’ it back on the sides.  As a pre-teen kid, I wore a lesser ‘hip’ hairstyle where my hair was simply combed straight down.  No part, no ‘feathering’, nothing.  I recall a conversation my mother had with a high school upper classman whose hair was essentially the fashion-plate picture of perfect hair.  She asked him how he got it to part and feather so perfectly.  The boy’s reply stuck with me.  He said: “Well, it doesn’t lay this way naturally.  I have just had to brush it and brush it and brush it.  Over and over and over…until it sort of trained to go in the direction I want it to go.” 

Even as a kid, I connected those words to a larger truth.  What he said echoed in my spirit about the patterns of my life.  I was prone to do wrong, and doing right would take practice. 
Righteousness, and holiness are not natural to the way my flesh wants to go.  If I allow my life to just go with its natural tendencies, then the result will be sin and destruction.  My momentum will be away from the heart of God, not toward it.  If I want the patterns of my life to please my heavenly Father, I have a lot of ‘brushing’ to do.  Over and over, and over…I need to be training my flesh into obedience.  The Christian life is one of daily practice.  Yes?

Turning the Titanic
In the Greek, there are seven words for sin.  One of those, ‘Harmartia’, is at its origins an archery term.  Quite simply, it means to “miss the mark.”  I really like that imagery.  I’ve shot an arrow at a bull’s eye and I know what it means to hit…and to miss what I am aiming at.  In order to stop missing the target…I have to…change the direction of my shot.  In scripture, this change is called repentance.  The word in Greek is ‘Metanoia.”  Metanoia means essentially “to think differently afterward.” Had the captain of the Titanic not lost his ship and his life that tragic night in 1912, I believe he would have “thought differently afterward” about rushing into iceberg-infested waters.  So must I.  Repentance requires that I change my direction so that I might no longer miss the mark!  Sounds simple.  Now, how do I make it happen?

Turn Here
If you have a GPS, you know that following its instruction can be very helpful when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory.  You also know that periodically, a GPS can tell you to “Turn here” when there is in fact no road to turn upon.  A few years ago, Laura and I were in Kentucky and wanted to visit Mammoth Cave.  I was following the leadership of our GPS when it suddenly announced we were at our destination.  Apparently, Mammoth Cave was an abandoned two story house with a dirt driveway.

Acts 3:19 instructs us to “Repent, then, and turn to God…”  Focusing on the disciplines of Bible study and prayer, and seeking the counsel of the Holy Spirit in all things will work to keep us headed in the direction we want to go.  “Turn to God.  Turn now.  Recalculating…”

Lord Jesus, Your word is a lamp unto my feet.  Your Holy Spirit is my guide through uncertain times.  I long to be in the center of your will and practicing your ways.  Work in me new habits, and turn my heart and mind away from evil.  Lead me that I might change directions. 
In your name I pray, Amen

Devotional Archive