Last week, I realized I was driving the wrong way and was getting further from my desired destination with each passing minute. I had no choice but to carefully navigate a U-turn and head back in the right direction. For guys, plenty of jokes have been made at our expense when it comes to refusing to ask for directions. “I’ll figure it out”, we tell ourselves. But let’s be honest, sometimes there’s no other option than to simply turn around and go back.
In life, we can sometimes get on the wrong road in other ways. Life is full of unplanned distractions and attractions that can direct us away from God and what He wants for us. If we keep our life headed in the wrong direction, we’ll end up in a bad place, far from God’s best. I’m talking about the wrong roads that are a result of bad habits, hang-ups, and hurts. Or sin.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19 (NIV)
Repentance is the Bible word for doing a spiritual U-turn
Repentance means “to turn, to change”. Repentance is what the sinner does when they first come to Christ for salvation. They are TURNING TO a loving, redeeming Saviour who has forgiveness and new life for them. At the same time, they are TURNING AWAY FROM their sin and self-reliance.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:19 (NIV)
Repentance is also what the Christian must do at times, but for different reasons. There will be occasions in our Christian walk, where we realize we have started down the wrong road. We know we are already saved, but temptation has pulled us away from God again and towards a sinful way of living or thinking again. What do we do? We repent. We humbly and simply make a U-turn back towards God.
Be quick to repent
A life of repentance doesn’t come easily for most of us but it’s a spiritual discipline that can be developed as we grow in Christ. A preacher once said that Christians need to learn how to do at least 3 things quickly: “Be quick to believe, be quick to forgive, and be quick to repent”. Don’t prolong what God has asked you to do or to leave behind.
God calls us to make turnarounds when it’s necessary. We see this pattern all through Scripture. The Old Testament prophets called Israel to repentance. John the Baptist preached repentance. Jesus preached repentance. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter’s first message concluded with repentance. In Acts 17, Paul said of God, “now he commands all people everywhere to repent”.
God’s Fatherly love will lead you to change. Some men will only let calamity or crisis push them to change. God has a better way. Romans 2:4 says, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance”. If you listen carefully to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, He is likely already kindly leading you to make some U-turns. God is faithful to warn, lead, remind, and guide… but it’s up to us to respond and repent.
Scriptural keys for spiritual U-turns:
1. Own your issues.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14–15 (NLT)
There is a reason why James said temptation comes from “our own desires”. God can’t help you with sins you pretend don’t exist. It’s already obvious to God what the issue is, but is it obvious to you? Are you willing to take responsibility for it? Sin has one destination for you when it’s allowed to grow – death. There are all kinds of ways a man can die a slow death in their spirit, soul, or body. Don’t let sin take you there. Get off that road and change course while you still can. Face the temptations that are drawing you away from Christ.
2. Confess your sins.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:8–9 (NLT)
Your spiritual U-turns in life will only happen when you take the wheel and make the turn. Repentance is personal like that. No one can do it for you. Repentance is most definitely a heart thing, but John says it also involves our mouth. Confession is an admission to God about sins He already knows about. Confession helps you stop hiding what God already sees that is hurting you. Confession is accountability. You are inviting God into your struggle, so He forgives you and sets you free.
3. Receive God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself too.
A funny thing Christians often do is believe they receive forgiveness from God but then won’t forgive themselves. How oddly prideful it is to think our great God and loving Father can declare us forgiven yet we can’t quite extend the same forgiveness to ourselves. We may think a turnaround is too good to be true. John tells us that God is “faithful and just to forgive us ours sins and cleanse us”. If God has no grudges against you, don’t hold one against yourself. Move on and enjoy the new horizon God just gave you.
All roads will lead you somewhere. Where are the roads in your life taking you? If you find yourself going the wrong direction, do yourself a favor and make a U-turn.