A man is driving on a highway in a faraway suburb. He can see the green mountains, coconut trees and, well, coconut trees. Then suddenly, he encountered a crossroad. The road going to his left has a signage that says: To Sin City. The road going to his right says: To holy land. Suddenly the man has to decide. He began to scratch his head and say “where do I go now?” But hey! There’s a description below the signage.
The road on the left, To Sin City says that: This road will lead you to short cuts. It is the easy way, pleasurable, no sacrifices needed and absolutely FREE! Go here and you will experience instant gratification. You have nothing to worry but yourself.
On the other hand, the road on his right says: This road is rough, it’s also tough. Nothing is easy at the beginning but you will learn from everything. At times you have to give way to others, even help them when they’re in need. We’re very sorry for all the inconveniences, but here’s a promise though: In the end you will experience life in abundance.
He thought, “I’m in a hurry. I want everything I want now! Who wants to go on a rough road anyway?” So he took the road on the left to Sin City. And not surprisingly, many people took the same road. And they experienced all the fun. In the beginning.
Another man encountered the same thing in the same place. He saw the signage. But he got out of his car and read the descriptions on point blank. He noticed, the description to Sin City has a footnote. Below, it says, “Destination will be damnation.”
Of course, this story is just a product of my imagination. But there are truths behind it. First, in this life everyone has to decide on what path to take. There’s the path to Sin City and the path to holy land. The characteristics of the two roads are given. The destinations are also certain.
In reality though, we are faced with this decision every day. But each day we decide on a certain road, we get farther and farther. And a lot of times, we take the road on the left too much until we realize we’ve gone too far to go back.
Fortunately, there’s a thing called repentance. Yeah, the very unattractive word, repentance. It’s like when you encountered this word, it goes in your right ear and then out to the left. It has become unpopular because of the powerful perception that it is hard. And no one wants that, until it’s too late. Until they’ve gone to the point of no return. Laging nasa huli ang pagsisisi.
But think about this analogy: if you went to the wrong road, repentance is your exit point leading you back to the right path.
Because most of us started out in life in the right way. But somehow, someway, temptations come and we give in. Bad habits are formed and the cycle goes on. Until, consequences began to surface. You’re overweight and sickly, your wife or husband left you, your grades are failing, your child is rebelling, no one trusts you anymore.
Suddenly, you want to repent. Repentance is a popular word again. But this is what repentance is NOT. Repentance is not the fear of consequences of sin but rather, we should hate the sin itself because it offends God.
The Greek word for repentance is metanoia which is literally translated as change of mind.
And for my analogy above, it is a change in direction. And to do this, we must possess two essential characteristics: honesty and humility.
First, we should admit to ourselves that we’ve made a mistake. Acknowledge that you were wrong. Never justify nor sugar coat your sin. It is what it is. Because it was your choice in the first place. A lot of people now tend to sugar coat their sins and call it “open-mindedness.”
Next, we should be humble enough to ask God for forgiveness and seek the help of others.
And when you fall again, remember that God will never give up on you. So don’t you dare give up on yourself. Which reminds me of the most important thing, His love for you.
“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans: 38-39)
Believe and have faith in His love for you. Without this, you will just be travelling the road on your own. With your own strength, own understanding and own directions, which are fleeting and prone to errors.
Repentance and faith go together. It is a double action response.
To just reform our lives is inadequate. We need to go by His plans and promises. To believe without doing anything is nothing. For faith without works is dead (James 2:14-17).
So, to holy land anyone?