A number of weeks ago, the roads in the valley were dry as we were in between storms. The warm winter sun had melted all the snow. On that day, I was headed toward Basalt and was behind a well worn van. What struck me was that the wheels were so out of alignment it almost appeared as if the vehicle was traveling at a 45 degree angle down the road. Several minutes later I’d reached my destination and turned off the road, although the image of the van stuck with me.
This week we begin the season of Lent. It is a 40 day period from Ash Wednesday until Easter with Sundays omitted. Sundays traditionally are not considered part of the Lenten season because every Sunday we remember not only the cross, but Jesus’ resurrection.
Lent is observed by many Christian traditions across the globe and has been for centuries. Countless Christians use this time of year to reflect, re-establish priorities, intentionally pray, study scripture, and repent.
Repentance is a theme throughout scripture from Genesis through the Book of Revelation. While some have interpreted repentance as “feeling bad for bad things done,” or “immersing oneself in a big dose of guilt,” or, “getting in touch with how one has sinned and the consequences,” there is something much more fundamental and frankly transformative to the idea of repentance.
Repentance, if you go back to its central meaning in scriptural Greek, means to have a change of mind or a change of heart. In my own life and journey in faith, I know when I am off track. I can feel it. I can see it. I can observe the effects. Like a van going down a road with tires out of alignment, I know when I am a bit out of whack, and this is where repentance comes in.
Down deep, I believe that every single person, at their God given core, wants to do the right thing, to be kind and loving, and ultimately to be in alignment with why we have been life to begin with. That said, certainly countless people have lost sight of God, moved away from a relationship with God, have had life circumstances that have precluded knowing healthy love, have endured horrific events and happenings that have led to profound trauma and heartache, or simply have been terribly ruffed up in life, all of which leads to the pain, acting out, and sin we see so evident today.
But I believe, every person, given the right circumstances, seeks love, to be loving, and to feel at home within themselves and with God. I also think that most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, realize we need a change of heart now and then to get back to being whole and the creatures God intends. This is what repentance is all about. It is about a change of heart, about getting back to the way things should be, relationally, vocationally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
Sometimes the way I act, respond, treat myself and others, think, perceive, and relate to God are not in alignment and I can feel it. Repentance is all about spending time with God, with intention, seeking a change of heart, and getting back to who we know we want to be, to whom God made us to be, God’s beloved creatures being loved and loving in return.
In invite us all in these weeks ahead to keep the image of a car traveling down the road in mind. That is, to identify the ways in which we are and are not in alignment with what makes us feel truly at home with ourselves, others, and with our loving, healing, forgiving, creator. To take what we know about ourselves to Jesus and to ask in prayer for a change of heart.