Make a U-turn at...

Several months ago I took Clay and a friend to visit a college.  My instructions were clear - you guys sit in the front - one will drive and one will navigate... and I handed them an atlas.

It looks like this... inside there is a page for each state with roads and labels - there is no audio.  You can actually determine how to get from one city to another without speaking into it, and it doesn't talk back.  You must review your own decision to go north or south, east or west, then drive that way using only road signs and your determined plan.  

Both boys took one puzzled look at the unimpressive Atlas and spoke gently into their phones to their good friend, Siri, with a request for directions.  Siri, in a kind, gentle voice, began with an instruction to turn left to begin the trip.  We made it... without the Atlas.

Fast forward several weeks... Frank and I were headed to visit my parents in Cookeville, TN... a trip we have made hundreds of times even varying our route a bit.  Years ago, I "found" a little road on an Atlas that cut ten minutes off our trip.   We ran into some heavy traffic due to an accident this day, so we need to reroute.  Thinking our good friend, Siri, with the gentle voice might give us a quick easy detour, we began driving away from the intended route to find a state road that would take us around the accident site.  With every 300 feet we moved, our gentle Siri repeated the same words with the same inflection, "make a u-turn in 300 feet." She wasn't emotional; she didn't seemed bothered by our lack of response; she just continued to repeat "make a a u-turn in 300 feet".  No, friend, we can't make that u-turn, it will take us back "from whence we came", and that will cause us to repeat the same traffic stop - we need NOT to repeat - we need only a left turn... a new direction away from the problem to allow us to smoothly reach our destination.  We needed a different path... a change in direction....

Isn't our journey with the Lord like that?  We often find ourselves in a pattern of repeat... oh we try to head away from the problem... the temptation... the challenge... the SIN - the disobedience, but we "hear" the gentle whisper...of the enemy, make a u-turn, come on back, THIS is your path.  We may just sneak a few "feet" down that changed decision path, and then we hear... make a u-turn... this is just who you are... you aren't strong enough to stay this course.

Truth is... we really can't make that turn from sin (to the left) on our own.  Over and over the Bible tells us that we have the love of the Father, the example and fellowship with Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit - to turn away from that disobedience.  Let's be honest, there are the very big things that we need to turn away from, but there are so many daily things that we need to address.  Are my words, my thoughts, my actions pleasing to God - are my responses based on how Jesus would model for me to respond?  Takes WWJD to a new level of thinking, doesn't it?

 from The Laymen’s Library of Christian Doctrine: The Christian Experience of Salvation by William E. Hull:
“Repentance begins with the recognition that life is moving in the wrong direction – no matter how long we have been doing it, no matter how many others may be doing the same thing, no matter how contented we are with our situation. “  

Our first decision with Jesus and repentance comes with His simple command, and our decision/answer to that command:

Then He said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

Once we have chosen to follow HIM, our lives should look different - our goal should immediately become to look more like Jesus.  I read an article from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association about what it means to conform to the ways of Jesus.  The title was simply, Do we look like Jesus.

The article ended with the following thoughts/questions.  As I reviewed the list, I was reminded of many places of needed repentance.  I so want to look like HIM... actually I want other to see HIM instead of me... 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5: 22-23
  • Do you choose to love the unlovable, even when you don’t feel like it?
  • Do bad circumstances steal your joy?
  • Are you at peace in non-peaceful situations?
  • How good are you at working with another timetable besides your own?
  • Do you seek that which is good (as defined by God’s Word)?
  • Do you waiver in your faith when times are hard?
  • Are you gracious in your dealings with others?
  • Who or what controls you?
Father, forgive me...

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