Repent therefore and return that your sins may be wiped
away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

Acts 3: 19

 

Peter was a man who understood in the most personal of ways
why it matters to change direction in life. He had done this more than once. He
had walked out of the calling that Christ had led him into, and he had returned
to the life that he had lived before that miraculous moment by the sea when he
had been summoned out of the fishing trade and into the business of serving
God. Jesus had asked Peter to leave behind the safety and the comfort of the
known to journey with Him through the wilderness of people’s lives. They had
encountered the extraordinary pain that sin brings about, and they had been
faced with fierce opposition from humans whose anger was fueled by the fires of
Hell. The wandering led them to the very entrance to the promised land of
restoration, but Peter ran away in a panicked human response to Jesus’ request
that he stay with Him in His suffering and pain.

 

This story has an all too familiar ring to it for me. Christ
came to me in all of His glory and with all of His understanding. He called to
me, and He has led me into the presence of God’s Promised Land. Still, I wander
off. There are those deeply rooted and hard to surrender elements in my
personality that I don’t want to yield to Him, and there are those ways of
thinking and of acting that lead me away from Christ’s righteousness; yet, I
find some form of comfort in their familiarity. Peter’s denial, his selfish
acts, and his return to his old way of life may seem to be more dramatic and
they are a better story than anything that is happening in my life, but there
is almost no difference in true effect. I am just as capable of wandering every
step as far away from Christ’s living restoration as was Peter.

 

Christ does for me exactly what He did for Peter. He comes
to me in the place where I have gone, He reveals His truth to me in a manner
that is clear and undeniable, and Christ sets me back on the road where His
journey is found. The lands of wandering that are located on the outside of
God’s will are harsh and the water that comes from their wells is bitter with
tears of futility and shame. Christ tells us that there is nothing that we need
to do other than recognize our need for Him. There is no change that we need to
make beyond being willing to change direction so that we are walking in
Christ’s way. This is what repentance and returning are all about, and this
attitude and action bring us back to a place of residence that is located in
the center of God’s garden of restoration and that is infused with the glory of
His presence.