Repent is a word strongly associated with Lent. As we get ashes crossed on our foreheads, we may hear, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Repent can seem to be a scary or bad word. It’s something that we are called to do but really don’t want to do it.
The call to repent is a call to change. The change is a challenge to surrender our control to God. Surrender control? That sounds scary. What if we don’t like what God wants us to do? Maybe we won’t be happy with what He has planned for us? In our comfortable lives we look at the lives of the saints, even the popular ones like St. Francis of Assisi, and read about how austere their lives were. They were poor in the eyes of the world. It can be hard to get our heads wrapped around a call like that. Perhaps God will ask too much of us and ask us to give everything up. Could we do that?
God calls each of us to a relationship with Him. The deeper our relationship, the less that material things matter. Why? Because everything comes from God. If He blesses you with wealth, then it’s for His purpose. If He calls you to a life of poverty, it’s so that you can rely on Him to sustain you. In either scenario, you are letting God come into your life and change you, to form you into what He wants you to be. Our fear should not be of God Himself, but rather the fear of disappointing Him and not using the talents He gives us to better our corner of the world. It may be a bit scary giving up what we want to do, but if we don’t know what God is calling us to do, why do we dread it and close our hearts to Him? Just a quick look around nature, seeing the variety and marveling in it should be enough to convince us that with God leading us, we will be able to go places that we’ve never been or even dreamed to go. And we may end up liking it more than we knew was possible.
If you still don’t like the word repent, that’s okay. Maybe when you hear it, think instead of turning away from yourself and turning to Jesus.
May our Lenten journey bring us closer to Jesus and allow us to stand at the foot of the cross on Good Friday and to experience the joy of the resurrection on Easter morning.