Starting Over, In a Different Direction

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Shohag Halder, who preaches in 2 villages of Jessore District in Bangladesh, visited me in Khulna recently. As we discussed the work, I asked if he would like for me to visit the churches there. He agreed that it would be good, but since it is flood season I asked if I could get to them. He smiled and shook his head and said, “No, the water is over the road waist-deep in spots.” I suggested that we wait a few weeks for it to recede, but he then consulted with others familiar with the area and finally responded, “There is another way. You can go to Jessore town (by the main highway; that would take us North or on the other side of his area) and there is a road to the villages from there.”
“You can’t get there from here.” That is so often the case. One must go to a different starting place, then his journey may really begin. It is kind of like flying. One cannot fly from Huntsville, Alabama to Los Angeles. First he must go to Atlanta.
Our attempts to approach God frequently run into the same problem. We feel the need to pray or worship or simply come into the presence of the Creator. Yet we feel blocked, rejected. Some obstacle prevents us from drawing near. Perhaps it is guilt over a past sin. Maybe we have a troubled relationship that hinders our worship (Matthew 5:23-24). Or it may be that sinful habits, attitudes, and words continually pull us away. We have sinned and fallen short of his glory (Romans 3:23) and we simply cannot reach God from where we are.
There is a solution. We must start over and go in a different direction. To repent is to change, and literally to turn around. All efforts to return to our Father in Heaven must begin with repentance (Luke 13:3). In sin we have been going away from God. We cannot continue in that direction, in that practice, and ever come near to him. The very first step is to change our approach. We must alter our behavior, our thoughts, and our speech, taking our life down a different road. Only then is it possible for us to reach our destination, coming into the presence of God.

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