A flicker of a thought tapped on the back of my mind. Vague but persistent, it eventually managed to capture my full attention. It wanted to know why we have to repent over and over and over again. Why must we revisit this repentance thing every single year? Go over the same issues, repent for the same sins? Why do we find ourselves in the same spot at the same time every single year? Why can’t we be one and done?
Upon its exit, it gleefully calls, “Same time next year!”, as it glances back with a little wave and a grin.
We observe the Lord’s festivals every year, regularly, on schedule. Each time we learn more and deeper things about them, about Him, which changes us. In the same regular way we must look into our hearts, observe what’s there, repent and allow change to happen.
That’s nice and all, but we seem to be re-repenting for our sins or even the sins of our fathers. Is it because we just plain forget about them? Like looking in that (trick) mirror? The moment we turn away we’ve already forgotten the image we just beheld?
Do we forget because we want to? For repentance can remind us of our own pain, lack, and disappointments.
Maybe our intentions are good. It’s fair to say that we can wholeheartedly repent for a few minutes, or carry a burden for a time. But, then the currents of life will inevitably carry us back into the present and the urgent.
We focus upon repentance at specific times of the year to stand in unity with others. Yet on another level, repentance needs be a state of being. Not groveling, but rather remaining soft-hearted and open to the leading of the Lord. Especially in regard to other people.
Repentance has a face and a voice. It’s a compilation of our brothers and sisters. Our parents and friends. Our neighbors, even strangers, and the grocery store checker down the street.
It’s the acknowledgement of wrong toward, and the reconciliation with, our brothers and sisters before bringing our offering to our Lord. (Matthew 5:24).
It’s the remembering so we don’t forget the horrible. The stepping over the minor so we can move forward together. It’s the restoration of our families, which forms the basis for reconciliation of a greater, unified family.
It’s the foundation before forgiveness. Though forgiveness can be given without repentance, the cycle is made complete by the offering of repentance, for inherent within the offering of the one is the request for the other. Without both there remains a breach, even if only slight.
The two are essential ingredients, which, when mixed with diligence and humility creates the mortar that holds the city walls together, making them impenetrable. Together they are the fertile ground ready for the planting of nourishing new crops, and the paving of new paths. They are the foundation and expression of trust and faith in the Lord, and of protection and sustenance from the Lord.
Sounds great, yes? Well, it’s all made possible by the continuous bowing of our hearts before our brothers and sisters, and our Lord and Master.
It’s the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “make straight the way for the Lord”. Repentance is calling us back to our family. Calling us back to His Land. Calling us home.