Following Jesus is choosing a life of repentance. Truly, it is one and the same.
But what does that look like? Maybe you immediately assume that is an ongoing sense of pietistic self-abhorrence. Or, in plain language, walking through life feeling bad about yourself and mumbling, “I’m sorry; forgive me,” under your breath at every turn.
Oh, it’s so much deeper than that. And so much better.
It looks much more like this:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding.;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.”
The way our hearts are wired, and the way His Spirit leads — well, those are in direct opposition. And as we simply trust in Him, and acknowledge Him with each step, we are in so doing “repenting” and following. Repent, really, means to turn and walk the other way. The impulses of anxiety, pride, envy, selfishness, anger, jealousy, hatred, malice — those things are repented of, moment by moment, when we continually choose to acknowledge Him instead. A continual turning of our hearts toward Jesus means, of course, turning away from the impulses that seek to rule us.
“What is Your thought on this, Lord?”
“How does Your truth change the way my soul responds right now, Lord?”
“What are the words You are speaking that I can echo?”
“What is important to You in this moment of overwhelm?”
“…because I trust You, Lord.”
Suddenly a life of repentance sounds much less like self-flagellation and much more like turning your face toward the sun on a perfect summer day. It sounds like joy.