4 “Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again?
When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
5 Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path?
Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back?
They cling tightly to their lies
And will not turn around.
6 I listen to their conversations
And don’t hear a word of truth.
Is anyone sorry for doing wrong?
Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”?
No! All are running down the path of sin
As swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
7 Even the stork that flies across the sky
Knows the time of her migration,
As do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane.
They all return at the proper time each year.
But not my people!
They do not know the Lord’s laws. (Jeremiah 8:4-7)
While driving around town, I have sometimes missed the right turn and was forced to go round a longer route to retrieve the right path to my destination. This happened to me a few days ago.
Imagine that I missed my way, realized it but decided to persist on the wrong path. Wouldn’t it be apt to describe such a behavior as self-destructive or even foolish?
Yes, each time I make the choice to persist in sinful behavior – got angry, lashed out on others but refused to apologize, gave in to lust and refused to open up and make a U-turn, lacked integrity in a situation but decided to cover up…, I am doing exactly that – persisting on a wrong path. I recently had to apologize twice to my neighbors after overreacting and also to my wife as I allowed that to affect me in other ways.
Repentance is making a right a choice to turn back even after realizing I made a wrong choice or a series of wrong choices.
Two steps are critical here:
Step 1: Accepting or discovering that I am on a wrong path
Step 2: Deciding to get back on the right path.
The challenge with step 1 is the human tendency to live in denial. But the longer I bury my head in denial, refusing to own up to that fact that I made the wrong move, the longer it takes to find my way back. I sometimes get angry with myself after making the wrong choice. That often leads to more wrong choices. It is called worldly sorrow.
The earlier I take the focus off myself to focus on God and how my choices are affecting my relationship with Him, the better for my heart and the chances to make amends. The decision to turn to God in open-hearted sincere prayer often helps to soften and re-focus my heart on God.
Step 2 only kicks in after successfully handling step 1. In the case of my anger, not letting the sun go down while it still lingers (Ephesians. 4:26) ties in very well with God’s mercies being renewed every single morning (Lamentations 3:23) – each new day truly offers a new opportunity to correct yesterday’s wrong choices.
Having apologized to my neighbors and to my wife, life gets back right on track and what a freedom there is in learning from the migrating birds. If these birds know when to return, shouldn’t I know better? (Jeremiah. 8:7).
Let’s humble up and make the right choice TODAY!