Downtown Atlanta was quiet in the early morning hours as I piloted our Oldsmobile through it on our way to Florida. An hour earlier, my dad had suggested, “Why don’t you drive, now, while the roads are quiet? Just keep going straight ahead.” Now, he sat in the passenger seat, dozing. As the interstate road forked, I stayed right. Instinctively, my dad snapped to attention and asked, “Where are you going?” With no GPS to rely on, he grabbed a map and switched on the dome light. Calmly, he explained, “You took the wrong road, kiddo.”
Several miles later, I exited the interstate and made a u-turn Thirty minutes later, we were headed to Florida instead of South Carolina. At 17 years old, I had learned a valuable lesson about how to navigate the highway, read a map, and make a u-turn.
The Jewish calendar just ended the Days of Awe this week (on Wednesday), the ten days that extend from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. The Days of Awe provide an invitation for the Jewish people to engage in self-reflection and repentance. On the final and tenth day, they observe the holiest day on the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
In the Old Testament, Daniel, prayed for his countrymen to return to the Lord:
We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled . . .
We have not listened to your servants the prophets . . .
We are covered with shame . . .Daniel 9:4-7
Like Daniel, we are responsible for both personal and corporate repentance. I spent a week in September asking that God would give me, my church, and our nation a desire to return to Him in repentance.
What Does a Spiritual U-Turn Look Like?
A spiritual u-turn involves a deep sadness and a desire to turn back to God. Repentance. Repentance is more than an action; it flows out of personal brokenness. To understand what brokenness looks like in my life, I’ve learned from Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book, Brokenness: The Heart God Revives (2002). She writes about getting honest with God. She also penned a list titled “Proud People vs. Broken People.” I’ve referred to it over and over. The full list is here.
A few statements have resonated with me.
Proud people desire to be a success, but broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.
Proud people desire self-advancement, but broken people desire to promote others.
Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated, but broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; thrilled that God would use them at all
Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up, but broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.
Please understand that I’m not pointing fingers. I’m practicing my u-turns. At least once a year, I need to practice the attitude of repentance. These words challenge me:
Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of, but broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.
I wrote a short devotional book about surrendering to Jesus, Surrendered: Learning to Trust and Rest, lessons from the vine and branch. Email me and I’ll send you chapter one to sample. Jesus is worth our pursuit.