This next week I turn 42(!) and I don't know whether to be insulted or grateful.
This past week, I received a 400-pound Nordic Track 2800 Elite treadmill as a gift from Dolly Parton and her manager. However, not using common sense, I made a bad decision. Several nights ago, I got up and decided to work out without wearing socks or shoes. Needless to say, by making a wrong choice, I am suffering the consequence.
Even though I knew it was not smart to get on the treadmill without proper protection on my feet, I still chose to do it! Even though halfway though the workout — I walked the 2 miles — my feet began to burn and ache, I ignored it.
How often our life and our actions are like this.
God has blessed each and every one of us with a conscience. We know when we're doing something wrong! We know when we are sinning, but we refuse to listen to the voice that God has instilled within us as a life-saving gift, a grace. So often, we could truly have advanced our spiritual journey if we had let God do the navigating and we had done the following!
In order to do this, we must surrender; we must let go.
It is not enough that I am not able to work out on the treadmill this week and not even able to walk without a limp. Dolly's manager has decided to make a surprise visit to my house tomorrow and "experience" me working out on the gift that he and Dolly purchased for me. Do I share my mistake? Do I get back on the treadmill and grin and bear it, possibly doing more damage? It's not enough to just make choices — we must be challenged to make good, correct and morally sound choices.
I read that "repent" is an interesting word with interesting synonyms — turn away from sin, atone, be sorry, do penance. Could you imagine if one of the presidential campaigns had as its motto: Change you can believe in — repentance! This shift is from we can fix it to you can fix it — but it would never work. Why? Because it tells us that we are the problem and therefore, unavoidably, the solution.
People don't like hearing this — they want politicians to fix it for them; they want to be left alone.
Jonah preached repentance to the Ninevites as John the Baptist preached it to the Jews at the Jordan. Jesus preached it incessantly on his mission of salvation, not because he lacked originality, but because he knew there was no other hope for humanity. Repentance is, in fact, the only change we can believe in because it puts God and humanity back into the right relationship, the fundamental precondition for all real growth.
Undeniably, the world is in a mess, and it's getting worse. You might think I am typing about the global finance crisis, but I am not. I am referring to the normalization of adultery, divorce, abortion, fornication and so on; the blind contempt shown, even celebrated, in a multitude of ways, for the rights of God and the dignity of the human person. This is the real disaster of our modern times.
Fortunately, the unquenchable human thirst for goodness, absolute truth and beauty cannot be destroyed. We were created by God for God and there is nothing we can do to change our spiritual DNA. The really sad thing is that we stubbornly go on ignoring our roots and seeking to make ourselves into something that doesn't need God.
The President of the United States can offer all the change he wants and beg us to believe in it. President Bush did it before him and so did President Clinton, as well as a host of other leaders of nations. None of them dares to say the words "repent" and "believe in the Gospel." To hear these words, we have to go to the only leader capable of delivering what he promises — Jesus Christ.
Go out and make it a good day, all day!