As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15
Repentance is a word we use within the ritual of confession, pardon and peace. It weaves itself into the rhythm, we cannot escape it. Peace does not come without it. Nor does confession or pardon. Repentance (the Greek word is “metanoia”) is a change of mind and a turning toward God. It is choosing to move forward in a different direction.
When I moved to Tennessee I worked first in the city while I waited through the process of obtaining a TN Paramedic license. My research of EMS systems in the area helped me identify where I wanted to work; it was in Williamson County. After I had my TN license in hand all I had to do was drive a few miles south and find out what was there. Every day on my way home I passed by the split: one going south on I-65, the other on the same path I traveled each day to and from work. My mind was made up: the EMS system I wanted to work with was in Williamson County. I wanted to grow, and this was the place that could help shape me as a provider of emergency medical care. There was no doubt. Still, I procrastinated taking action.
I remember the day I made a quick lane shift and finally chose that sound bound turn on I-65. My heart was beating fast. I’m a small-town girl but the city had become familiar as I worked there each day. This road was new. I’d never been to Franklin. I knew no one. It felt like a great big risk into something I couldn’t control. You would think after moving to Nashville from a small Western Kentucky town that a short drive to Franklin, TN would be easy; but it wasn’t. That day I decided to align my actions with my mind and spirit. It felt like a huge step!
Change of direction is scary. Choosing to step into the unknown, even when you know it is the direction you need to go is difficult. I got off at the Franklin exit on Highway 96 and pulled into the first gas station I saw. I asked where I could find the local ambulance station. They pointed me in the right direction and the rest is history. There is no way I could have ever imagined all the things that would come with that one turn in a different direction.
Sometimes we think of repentance as a guilt driven process where we realize how wrong we’ve been, we make confession and “change our ways”. What if it is much more? What if turning toward God is deciding to turn toward the most amazing life we could ever imagine? What if we just make that turn and then humbly allow the miracle of grace to unfold in our lives? What if repentance is a faithful act of turning toward the one who knows exactly what we need even before we need it? We choose to walk in the direction of the God who brings beauty out of ashes; order out of chaos; hope out of despair. That is what we are turning toward when we practice repentance. We do something different. We do something that walks us into wholeness, one moment at a time. We take risks!
A lot of people in our communities and across our nation are doing different things right now. In some moments it looks like a national confession that things need to change; that we all need to change. On other days it looks like total mayhem as destruction follows what started out as peaceful, even if painful, expressions of desperation. It would be easy to dismiss it all and shrink into our shells. But what if something new is happening?
What if something new is bursting out from within us?
If this is a national confession where people are saying, “our life together must change!” then there will be pardon and forgiveness in that ritual. There may be a change of mind for all of us. There will be a rhythm of peace that is offered; a peace that can change the course of our nation. Peace is not offered with destruction and condemnation. It comes with humility and grace and courage. It comes by way of doing something different.
Jesus came that we might have life that is abundant and whole. We are created in the image of God. We begin there, each one of us. And we can get back there. But it will require a change of mind; moving in a different direction. It is definitely a risk to step toward anything new God may be doing in us. We have to let go so our hands are empty enough to receive the new. And yet, if we are turning toward the God of heaven, we know that whatever is ahead will bring true healing and peace.
What is your something different today? What is your conscious, intentional choosing to turn toward the God who created you and loves you more than you can imagine? Just do that. One step at a time. Each movement is step in the rhythm of peace.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. – John 15:10-11
God we need you. We have oppressed and condemned people that you love. We have shouted judgements in the face of those who risk their lives to serve and we have held back our voices while our brother and sisters are pushed down, aside and out. We have failed to love each other as you love us – the primary command you have gave us. We have relied on power structures in this world instead of depending on you. We need a change of mind and in so many ways we find ourselves unable to take a step toward anything different. Please assist us. Please grant us the gift of your divine wisdom and peace. Lead us, Lord; make haste to help us. Amen.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7