I like this quote: “A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” Yep, I bet you know that feeling of being so fed up with the everyday activities of life that you say “STOP!”
And yet, why is it that too many of my vacations have been as stressful or more stressful than my regular schedule? It’s because an actual “refreshing” isn’t happening. And why is that? Because a true refreshing is an internal reality. True, your outward circumstances can help, but nothing takes the place of inner peace for rejuvenating your life! OK, so how do you get that?
Look at our lesson today in Acts 3:19-26:
IN THOSE DAYS, Peter said to the people, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God gave to your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your posterity shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Let’s set the scene: The Lord is risen from the dead, and the disciples have been empowered by the coming of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the command of the Lord to “make disciples of all nations.” And now St. Peter is preaching his famous Pentecost sermon to the multitude of the people gathered in Jerusalem and they have just asked him what I asked above: What do we do?
St. Peter’s answer is still the answer for you and me today: Repent. What a powerful word! St. Isaac the Syrian said “This life has been given to you for repentance. Do not waste it on vain pursuits.” The truth is the whole of being Orthodox on Purpose is learning how to make repentance your everyday lifestyle. It is in learning how to repent that creates a perpetual refreshing of your life and creates inner peace regardless of any external circumstances. So, how do we repent?
- First, to repent isn’t about being sorry you broke a rule. No, repentance comes from love. If I love God, then I want to be with Him and everything that stands in the way of me being with God needs repentance to remove that obstacle. And it starts with how I think. If I really love God and want to be with Him, that reality is reflected in my priorities. If my priorities are right then obstacles are removed.
- Next, to repent isn’t just a negative; it’s a positive also. A lifestyle of repentance means I am not just turning FROM something, but I am constantly turning TOWARDS Someone! A lifestyle of repentance is always a positive and encouraging lifestyle of choosing well. We must first stop thinking that repentance is some negative thing where God is “mad” at me for breaking His “rules” and start seeing repentance as the gift it is to refresh my life!
- Finally, to repent is a moment by moment wakefulness. My need to repent has nothing to do with God loving or accepting me and everything to do with building an increasing awareness and sensitivity for my need for God’s mercy and grace to heal me and refresh my weary heart.
Today, when was the last time you had your life refreshed by honest repentance? Have you fallen for the con game of the evil one to convince you that you don’t need to repent or that you’re too evil to repent? Isn’t it time your life had a true refreshing? Since Christ has destroyed death, my dearest, there is simply no need for you to stay stuck. So, repent and be Orthodox on Purpose!