Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away (Acts 3:19 NLT).
Friend to Friend
It was the incompetent and the inexperienced being led by the inept, the day our Sunday School Class worked on the habitat for humanity house for an unsuspecting, extremely grateful family. Among the crew were two dentists, an investment banker, a lawyer, an engineer, two pastors, a receptionist, several homemakers, and a marriage counselor. It’s always good to have a marriage counselor on hand when a home improvement project is taking place.
The one-thousand-square feet, vinyl-siding house had already been framed by a team the week before. Today was sheetrock or drywall day. The site supervisor’s name was T.A.
T.A. was a country carpenter who had hammered more nails for Jesus than Noah and his sons combined, and he got us somewhat organized.
Palmer was part of the sheetrock team. Like Rambo, he wielded his screw gun and popped those babies in the sheetrock like a hot knife through butter. After several hours of neck craning, screw popping, dust in your eyes labor, Palmer took a fifteen-minute break.
Re-energized, Rambo picked up his gun and once again attacked the ceiling. A lot of forgetting can go on in a fifteen-minute break and for some reason, the screws forgot how they were supposed to spin out of the gun and magically implant flush with the ceiling.
“That’s strange,” Palmer thought as he examined the screw protruding one inch from the ceiling.
He moved the gun over a couple of inches and tried again. “Maybe I just need to push harder.” So, with all the force of a trained counselor, Palmer pressed the gun into the ceiling and pulled the trigger. Once again, the screw hung down one inch from the ceiling.
“Something is definitely wrong with this gun,” he mumbled. Palmer set his jaw, clinched the gun, and again firmly pressed the screw gun into the ceiling. After the third attempt, Palmer stared at a neatly placed row of three taunting screws protruding from the ceiling.
About that time, T.A. bounced through the room and casually commented, “Hey Buddy, you might want to take that gun out of reverse.”
A flush of embarrassment rose from the tip of Palmer’s dusty shoes to the top of his sandy blond head. He nonchalantly flipped the switch forward and proceeded to shoot flush screws efficiently and effectively as if nothing had ever happened.
Later, Palmer laughingly said, “I wonder how many rows of protruding screws I would have shot into that ceiling before I stopped and even considered that the problem might be me?”
OK, sisters, stop the cameras. Suddenly I saw myself staring up at those protruding screws with my baffled friend.
“What’s wrong with her,” I complain about a friend who’s let me down.
“What’s wrong with him,” I complain about my husband who’s not acting according to my plan.
“What’s wrong with them,” I mumble about family members who are not living up to my expectations.”
Never once stopping to think the problem might be…me.
Whether it’s a string of jobs where you’re always treated unfairly, a pileup of relationships that seem to repeatedly end poorly, or a series of marriages with spouses who’ve let you down…could the problem be…dare I say…you? Could it be me? We push harder. Press more firmly. Repeat the same ineffective behavior again and again.
May I quote T.A.? “Hey Buddy. It might help if you take it out of reverse.”
May I translate T.A. the way I heard it? “Hey Buddy. Turn and go in the opposite direction.”
And you know what? That is the definition of repentance. To turn and go in the opposite direction.
In one of his sermons, Peter said, “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19 NLT).
The Amplified translation says it this way: “So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day]…”
Oh, friend, when it comes to a life that is not working, we can try harder, push harder, and even pound with emotional hammers to try and make it work. With a fresh coat of pretend—a smiling face, spit-shined kids, and a well-marked Bible, we might look OK—even downright good. But underneath, the construction remains shaky at best.
But when trying harder is replaced with repentance, shaky is replaced by secure. If life isn’t working for you, trying harder might not be the answer. Repeating the same ineffective behavior will only leave you frustrated. But repenting—turning and going in the opposite direction of sin and toward the Savior—will always put you on the right path.
Heavenly Father, show me when I need to turn from sin and go in the opposite direction. Please give me the courage to do so.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Is there any behavior in your life that you keep repeating that keeps giving you negative results?
If so, what do you need to do?
What do you think when you hear the word repent? Leave a comment, and let’s compare notes.
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