Repentance is a harsh word. An expression like, “repent or go to hell,” comes to mind. Repent, a word used like hot coals to scare crowds into the submission of the church. It is a word with a thousand barbs, as to have no escape when flung in your direction. Is that repentance? Something we should fear and be forced into by guilt? Or is it something completely different?
There was a time when I decided to participate in a 21-day fast with other believers. I had never fasted for longer than a day or two and really did not know what I was getting myself into. But I felt convicted that the Lord was calling me to participate and I made a plan on how to go about it. Fasting can be tough on the body and mind; it requires care and proper planning if one is to fast at such lengths. With proper counsel on how to best participate physically, I also made a plan to prepare my mind.
Along with slowly reducing my diet, I decided to wake up every morning and spend up to an hour in prayer. At first, my thought was, “How am I going to fill up an hour with prayer?” I have to admit in the beginning it was difficult: my mind would wander, I was tired, and I wanted to go back to sleep. As my fasting grew more intense, I began to become weaker physically, which meant I had to conserve my energy for my daily activities. Fasting also began to clear my mind of all the clutter it held.
My mind at times feels like a hallway closet filled with the junk you have nowhere else to put; anytime you open it to get your coat a dozen things come pouring out. In my weaker state I had to choose what I could handle on a daily basis; therefore I had more time to think and meditate. Soon my prayer time became more intense and my heart more sensitive to my interaction with God. Looking back on my experience I gained a deeper understanding of repentance; it is not a word that should be used as leverage, but a word of liberty.
TO REPENT IS TO CHANGE ONE’S MIND FROM REJECTION OF CHRIST TO FAITH IN HIM.
Clearing my mind allowed me to be completely humbled at what Christ has done in my life. It began to break down my hard shell of “I can do anything” to “I can do nothing without Christ.” This month will mark the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday, a time of reflection and humbling ourselves before God. BelPres offers several options to spend time with God, from Ash Wednesday services to literature in the library to help in your journey. May our repentance turn from something we may possibly fear to become something refreshing as described in Acts 3:19:
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins mayy be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord “