Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the Lord Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the Lord Almighty.
Repentance is one of those things we specifically associate with Lent. We recently had a short discussion about what repentance meant during one of our weekly staff meetings over Zoom, and it got me thinking about what it really means. My normal Sunday routine now that I'm back in Japan involves watching online services from two or more churches, one of them being JCPC. Since our discussion, I've started picking up on little tidbits about repentance through watching these services, and a new way to look at repentance has emerged.
We often think of repentance in a negative way, associating it with the sinful parts of our lives. We have to recognize what in our life needs changing, and that can be uncomfortable. I've often thought of repentance as being an emotional act, recognizing flaws and humbly bringing them before God. But what if we also thought of repentance from a different approach. God calls us to constantly work towards becoming better versions of ourselves. The purpose of repenting is to discover areas that we need to improve in order to become a more ideal version of ourselves. In other words, we repent so that we can become who God meant for us to be.
Repentance is an opportunity to return to God. It's a chance to work on that which is lacking. Lent is a time of preparation and waiting, and it ends with Easter morning. On that first Easter, everything changed. The bonds of sin were broken by Christ's resurrection and new life began. We often associate Easter with new life: budding flowers and freshly hatched baby chicks. Can we then think of Lent as an annual chance to work towards living into a "new" life and returning to God? Instead of dwelling on the negative, how can you look at those parts of your life that need changing in a positive way? Through repentance and a return to God, we not only become more like who God wants us to be, but we also find that God returns to us.