The word repent in the old languages – Hebrew and Greek forms – carried the meaning to be sorry for one’s decisions to follow one’s own path, rather than the instructions of God. Someone who was repentant would turn from following his own ways and return to following the path of God’s instruction. Like turning the rudder of a ship, it took a form of action to repent. A sail boat won’t turn itself into the wind. But once the action of turning about was taken, then the Spirit of God was meant to come along side and provide guidance, support, and would energize the repentant one’s walk. The Spirit, who is symbolized in the wind, fits the image of the Wind. The rudder turns the boat about , a symbol of taking the action of repentance, facing it to take advantage of the wind (the Holy Spirit.) Every sailor knows that progress is not made under man power. The dynamics of the wind’s power so amplifies the sailor’s efforts and speeds the boat along toward the destination, in a way no human power could muster. Even with dozens of men at the oars, wind in the sails moves the vessel effortlessly in comparison. But it remains the choice of the sailor to set the sails to take advantage of that power. We as Christians often try so hard to meet God’s expectations under our own power. Often we tire of living in the difficult realm of progressing against the dragging anchor of sin. If only we would pull up anchor and turn our effort toward using the rudder of grace to turn about. Instead of struggling with life, to be empowered by God. How do we gain the power of God on our lives? By repentance.
It is important to see that the act of crying and being sad is not the complete act of repentance. Making the decision to turn about is. It is then that we can release the struggle with our sin and give the Holy Spirit the power to move us forward away from the power sin had in our life. Notice, I am not saying you have the power to stop the sin alone.
For some, repentance comes with emotions of deep sorrow for sin, but for others, feelings of great relief for being released from the struggle. Paul, the apostle is one of the greatest types of resisting repentance. Of how living for God under one’s own power takes you in the opposite direction from God’s perfect will. His whole demeanor changed when he stopped resisting God. Saul, whom God renamed Paul, totally believed he was serving God perfectly, piously, and with the utmost fervor. He was willing to go to great lengths to bring “Christians” to a place of death, in the name of God, because he believed they were not serving God and were leading others away. But when God himself confronted Paul, he pulled up the anchor of everything Paul had been taught to believe. He commanded Paul to turn completely about, and begin to serve the very persons he had persecuted.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, (a symbol of repentance,) I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 26:14
The image God uses is a comparison: Saul’s resistance to believe that Christians were actually true believers was like kicking a cactus-like plant. He was only hurting himself with a hurt that keeps on hurting. Cactus “pricks” continue to dig toward the bone and become festered until the body ejects them or they are removed. It is senseless, God was saying. God wanted Paul to stop hurting himself. It would seem reasonable to ask people to stop hurting themselves by resisting repentance. Yet that isn’t the image most people have of repentance. God was not asking that Paul yield to a form of punishment in order to repent. I have never understood why established Christian religions add such to repentance. He was asking Paul to cease the senseless acts, and turn his life around, where-in Paul would find God’s constant blessing.
Please note that God wasn't calling a man who was a kind-hearted Jewish saint. Saul was killing saints! His understanding of right and wrong was totally askew!
A mother who sees her child playing near bees, asks that they come away. Or don’t swat at them, or step on them. She warns that the child turn away from that act. Often calling the child to herself for safety. A child who disobeys, gets stung. The mother doesn’t then punish the child for discovering the pain of playing with bees. She cradles the little one up, helps them run from the bees, and dresses the wound. She gives recognition to the pain of the sting, and with hugs and kisses, she soothes and shares information on how wise it is to avoid bees, and other things that hurt. Next time, a child generally is glad to come running to Mom. God is like the loving mother. All he wants is for us to recognize the dangers of sin and run, into his arms. If we are already stung by the pain of sin, God wants to hug us, tend to our wounds, restore us to health, and make us wise to avoid being stung again. Not hurt us some more!
So, often, when life becomes more and more difficult, the harder we try to serve God, it is because we have determined in our hearts what we believe to be right, according to what we learned at church, or from parents, or maybe just by desiring to be zealous for God. Our intentions may be the best, most religious of anyone around. But only when we hear God’s voice to repent of following our own way, and submit to turning our vessel about, do we find the wind filling our sails. Sin isn’t always about breaking one of the 10 commandments that we most
often think of as sin. Lying, stealing, coveting…etc. More often than not, it is breaking the first commandment. When we fail to love the Lord our God with all our heart. He isn’t standing over a whipping post saying, bend over… He is saying, “Turn about! And catch the wind!”
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 3:8
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2 (at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to all who believe.)
Unless you are afraid of a little wind in your sails, LIFT ANCHOR AND TURN ABOUT! Don’t let sin's drag anchor your boat to a place of pain. Lift anchor and let God!!
Help me see Lord the anchors of sin in my life. Whatever has stopped my life from making use of the power of your Spirit in my life, show me, teach me, draw me near, call me away from it, and sharpen my aversion to its stings. Thank you for your ever present love. AMEN