Day 6

Repentance (2 of 3): Turning to God

from the Lent 2016 reading plan


Joel 2:13, 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, John 1:19-34, 2 Corinthians 7:8-10

Back in 2009 we moved. It was a pain. We had to sell our house, which is not easy with three kids when the youngest is an infant. We had to pack up our belongings and load them onto the truck. Not everything fit, so we had to leave some stuff behind.

It was a two-day trip. I was driving the truck with the cat in the cab as my companion. My wife drove the van with the three kids. Did I mention our youngest was an infant?

It rained hard all day. The whole trip. My knuckles were white for days.

Did I mention I was towing my car behind the truck?

That was a tough day. The work of making such a significant change was hard. But the whole time I was fixed on the goodness of what we were moving to— home. We were moving to where all our family lived and where we knew grace and kindness were waiting for us. From the moment we pulled out of town and turned the nose of the truck toward home, we hung on to what we knew lay before us, even though getting there was difficult.

Repentance is hard.

You have to admit that you are heading in the wrong direction, that you have a problem. And that problem is sin. It can involve shame, but even shame isn’t the ultimate problem. You have to admit your need. Weakness has to be embraced in a world that sells and celebrates strength.

The prophet Joel understood this. He knew that even though the people were miserable and suffering, they would not want to admit their need for repentance. So, after he calls the people to return to Yahweh, he reminds them of the One to whom they are returning.

“Return to the LORD your God,

for He is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13).

This is the God he wants them to come back to. Not an angry, capricious God who is looking for a reason to wipe them out. Not a God who growls out their guilt simply to make them look small. But a God of grace and mercy, who abounds in committed love.

The Apostle Paul understood this. In Romans 2:4, Paul wanted his readers to see that “God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.” God’s love and kindness to sinners is offered so we that would repent. He holds up the work of Jesus on the cross as a picture of that kindness.

Repentance is hard, but can you imagine the impossibility of repentance if we anticipated moving toward a God who is ticked off at us? I think this is why repentance is hard for people. Maybe it’s hard for you. Maybe your exposure to the gospel has made it sound like bad news. Maybe all you’ve heard is the law of God and you cannot imagine grace and mercy, only judgment and condemnation.

Lent is a good time to catch a fresh glimpse of the mercy, grace, and steadfast love of God. Where can we see all this better than the cross? At the cross we see the forgiveness we didn’t deserve. We see Jesus dying the death we did deserve. We see unmatched love.

The call to repent is an invitation to turn our faces toward home. It is a path that leads to the Father’s mercy, not His wrath. We can hang on to the goodness that surely lies ahead. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. And repentance is a crucial part of the journey to where we belong.

Written By Matthew B. Redmond 

Post Comments (26)

26 thoughts on "Repentance (2 of 3): Turning to God"

  1. Caleb Adams says:

    In repentance

  2. Jon C. says:

    Man is weak. Man is full of sin: self focus, self reliance, arrogant, not mercy or grace (we can be but it doesn’t come naturally). Man needs relationship with others and with God. As God is pursuing us we need to pursue Him every day multiple times bc we are weak and self focused.

  3. Jon C. says:

    Read the Bible. Pray to be more like him. Share my learning experiences with others by being transparent and open about my sins and short comings.

  4. Jon C. says:

    The gospel is for teaching and offerings us insight to know God better each day. The gospel is a tool to learn about who God is and what He is about. He is about grace and mercy and steadfast love (and many more attributes) – things that don’t come naturally to us – we can learn to be more like Him by reading and chewing on His word.

  5. Jon C. says:

    God isn’t human. He loves me and wants what’s best for me. He is full of grace and mercy, something that most humans are not full of or known for and He pursues us. He’s a big God that doesn’t get angry with us or ‘ticked off’ at us when we sin once or every 2 seconds. He is a God that pursues us and who wants what is best for us.

  6. Nate says:

    He doesn’t want to punish us. He just wants us to come home. He wants what is best for us.

  7. Nate says:

    We intuitively know what we deserve. We understand that we deserve to be punished. That makes it difficult or counter intuitive to simply turn toward God and accept grace.

  8. Eric Langer says:

    Gods desire for us to repent is rooted in love and mercy. We are called to repent not to be judged, but to be forgiven. When we repent we turn from ourselves and the flesh and we focus ourselves on God.

  9. C Bates says:

    True goodness isn’t about a feeling. God’s goodness is very objective and may or may not feel “good” to me, though it is good. His goodness is not predicated upon how I feel, but rather who He is and his love for me. His love and desires for me may lead me to grief sometimes, though for a moment, but always leads me to Him and His kingdom.

  10. C Bates says:

    I don’t have to worry about God not being clear about His love and passion for me and that the good news may not seem good in the moment.

  11. C Bates says:

    When I’m experiencing grief, there is likely an opportunity for me to turn towards God and away from a sinful and destructive thought or behavior.

  12. Steele Fredricksen says:

    God has sent His son to die for us, which is a merciful gift that was FOR US, and not to condemn us. Sure there is forgiveness we don’t deserve, but Jesus has died, and we do deserve this.

  13. Steele Fredricksen says:

    I will repent of all sin I’ve committed, but thanking God that he has sent his son to die for that. I will admit to the lack of trust I’ve had altogether. I feel as though I need God to forgive my sins, but I still need to deal with the shame myself. I need the Holy Spirit to sink into my heart to allow me to see that I need him for everything, not just parts of my life.

  14. Steele Fredricksen says:

    Man can definitely lean more toward the side of feeling guilt and shame for the sins we commit. We can see that there is a big God who is in charge and forgives us, but almost as if he has to, and hasn’t died for us as a gift.

  15. Steele Fredricksen says:

    The good news is the fact that we are all sinners, we are all in need of the Gospel, but we are all on the receiving end of grace from a God who loves us enough to die for all our sins.

  16. Steele Fredricksen says:

    Thank you Lord for life. Thanks for providing forgiveness for all my sins, sending your Son to die, and wiping away all of my sin…regardless of what that is. I pray that I will cling onto you and allow you to penetrate my heart. I pray you will transform me into who you’ve created me to be.

  17. Isaac Jones says:

    Sometimes man wants God to fix things not related to their sin. They say “why won’t you make me better at sports, or why do I have this chronic disease?” Not everything a man has is because he sinned. God chooses the vessels and they are an array of types and kinds. He desires every vessel to worship him no matter how dis formed or simple. Man needs God for God will set Himself against the unrepentant; that is scary indeed.

  18. Isaac Jones says:

    Dear God of all and Father of Faith,
    Please help me to repent from sin that allows for broken areas of my life. You know that I mutter some of that brokenness. I want to keep my brokenness from you and hide it myself. God please shine your light on my brokenness and lead me to healing and restoration in repentance of my thinking; may I open every area of my life and worship to you. Amen.

  19. Isaac Jones says:

    God desires to forgive our sin. He wants torn hearts that recognize Him and give themselves to Him rather than keep themselves for sin. If those turn toward God He will take their sin, forgive them, and heal what has been affected by their sin.

  20. Isaac Jones says:

    This teaches me that the core of man’s responsibility in the gospel it to repent. The gospel is the good news that if we repent God will forgive us! He will also heal that which we have broken as a result of our sin.

  21. Isaac Jones says:

    I will respond by seeking the parts of my life that are broken to see God heal those in my repentance.

  22. Patrick Shen says:

    I quiet my heart, examine my self and confess lot that I have lust and apathy in my heart. I turn from these things and ask you to place something new in its place.

  23. Patrick Shen says:

    I am flawed and have an amazing ability to ignore that fact.

  24. Patrick Shen says:

    This reminds me that he is always here if I will just turn towards him.

  25. Patrick Shen says:

    That the gospel is an active experience that I can consciously take part in knowing my redemption as God’s child.

  26. Patrick Shen says:

    I pray humbly, needfully, solemnly, thankfully an joyfully.

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