Going Deeper with the Message:

Route 50 Repentance
by: Andrew Archer

One of the longest roads in our country is Route 50. It runs right through my hometown of Bridgeport, WV, and runs all the way from Ocean City, MD to Sacramento, CA. If you drive west on 50, you’re eventually going to get to Sacramento; if you drive East, eventually Ocean City. You can never get to Ocean City by driving West on 50, it’s impossible. So if your destination is Ocean City and you’re driving West, what do you need to do? It’s simple—you need to turn around and begin moving in the right direction. 

On Sunday, Pastor Tim continued our series on the book of Jonah by exploring the theme of repentance. He defined repentance as the idea that “we are headed in one direction, and we decide to change. Often, it is a change in the mind that results in a change of behavior—you were heading the wrong way, but you decided to return to the right path.” You can’t talk about Jonah without talking about repentance. At some point in the story, everyone involved repents. The pagan sailors, Jonah, the people of Nineveh, and even Nineveh’s cows repent! They all are going in one direction in life and for one reason or another, they change their mind about their ways and turn to the Lord. 

Not only is repentance a major theme in the book of Jonah, but it is prevalent in the entirety of scripture. “Shûb,” which is the Hebrew word that expresses the most important idea of repentance – is used around 1,060 times in the Old Testament! “Metánoia,” the Greek word that expresses the idea of repentance is used 24 times in the New Testament. We see many examples of God calling people to turn back to Him, and also people actually turning back to Him. We see people having a change of mind or a change of heart that results in a change of behavior. 

In the journey of life, we are sure to be headed in the wrong direction sometimes. Whether that be our overall direction or just in specific areas of our life. So, when we are faced with this idea of repentance, we musk ask ourselves: “In what areas of my life do I need to repent? To change my mind about?” What’s your ultimate destination? Are you on the right path to take you there? 

If you’re unsure of the ‘right path’ or the way that leads to life, let’s look at what Jesus said about that in John 14:5-6: “Thomas said, ‘we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Jesus makes it abundantly clear, if we want to know what direction to walk in, it’s toward Him. He is the way, the truth, and the life. If you are walking in any other direction, I would encourage you to repent, to turn to Him.

Living out the Message:

Roadblock to Repentance
By Michelle Lemley, Nursery Coordinator

I had my first baby almost exactly 10 years ago. He was a beautiful, healthy baby boy, and we were financially blessed for me to be able to leave my teaching job to stay home with him. But the first few days/weeks/months of motherhood were not easy on me, emotionally or physically. I felt isolated and alone, even when surrounded by a loving family. I felt the need to escape and then guilt for feeling this way when I had wanted a baby so much. I felt intellectually and professionally unfulfilled. But most of all, I was just so tired. Perhaps I’m the only new parent to feel this way, but in hindsight I can understand that this exhaustion was probably a catalyst for many of the other emotions that I struggled with.

The shame of feeling like a terrible mother kept me from reaching out and asking for help. I was worried that others would judge me or think that I couldn’t handle being a mom. Mostly, I think I was worried that if they did think that, they may be right. It wasn’t until I finally opened up to my dear sister-in-law who had a little girl four months before that I began to understand the value of trusting another with my burdens. We shared with one another the fears and anxieties of motherhood, the pressure to “make every moment count” in a Pinterest age, and the feelings of inadequacy when comparing our journeys with the “perfect” lives of our Facebook friends.

This week, Pastor Tim talked to us about repentance, defining it in a new way for me. The idea that all we have to do is “change our minds” and turn back to God’s path sounds simple, right?  In my experience I had (and still have) one huge roadblock, and her name is Michelle. I have to recognize and embrace the fact that many times my fears are only reinforced and exacerbated by my desire to bear them alone. By opening up to others about my thoughts and worries, I can benefit from their love and experience, and maybe even have the opportunity to help bear their burdens as well. As James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins and pray for one another so you may be healed.”

I invite you to join me in finding someone with whom you can share life’s burdens—someone who will help you change your mind and turn back to God’s path. Consider joining a small group or think of someone who you haven’t heard from in a while and reach out. This could hugely impact your life, but also consider that there is someone in your life who needs you right now, and that reaching out to them may be just what they need to feel loved, important, and valued.