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You Turns


Rerouting! The voice from your phone sounds impatient. You missed a turn. Maybe you couldn't see the street sign. Maybe you were going too fast. And maybe the voice dictating your route didn't give you enough time to anticipate the turn. But you missed it and now the two of you - routing voice and obedient driver - have to turn around or turn back or do a U-turn or go a different way altogether.

Controlling a vehicle isn't the easiest task to accomplish. So many things to watch for. So much to think about. And seldom is driving an isolated experience... there are other drivers all around hopefully watching for many things and thinking about so much too. Much like life. And controlling ourselves through life isn't always the easiest undertaking either. Do you have any idea how many choices and decisions you make in a single day? A Google search reveals a source that says 35,000. That's 2,000 per hour. One every 2 seconds. Astonishing, isn't it? The odds are stacked against us with those numbers. How could we possibly choose well or rightly every time?

Sure, some of them are pretty petty. Poptart or oatmeal for breakfast? But many are super significant. They could change the course of our lives. Alter the direction. Like Robert Frost's divided path presenting us with a major choice. Will it be the road less traveled? On what do we base our decision? Where do we turn when we are faced with difficult choices? Overwhelming options? To whom do we turn?

Turning around. Turning back. Turning inside out. Turning is a big deal in life and especially in the life of faith. It's at the heart of that weighty word repentance. Choosing to repent is like doing a YOU turn. And it's not the easiest exercise even for the most earnest of disciples. But the idea is a good one. It's meant to be life-giving, not life-suffocating. Intended to be grace-full, not dreadful. In a marvelous piece titled Feeling Like a Bowling Pin, Margaret Moers Wenig writes about the Hebrew understanding of turning in this way: "Teshuvah means turning or turning back to God who loves you and turning or turning back to people who love you, willingly accepting their love. Teshuvah also means repentance, examining your deeds, confessing wrongdoings, making amends, and asking for forgiveness. A man with a serious illness once insisted to me that his disease was a punishment for his sins. I argued with him vigorously, to no avail. He did not seek renewed health because he believed he deserved to be ill. To such patients, teshuvah, repentance, might free them from burdensome feelings of guilt to long wholeheartedly for and believe they deserve recovery." [from I Am the Lord Who Heals You edited by G. Scott Morris, MD]. If you just skimmed through those words, stop. Turn back to them. Read them again.

The prophet Jeremiah says some pretty strong words about the human heart. One translation reads, "The heart is devious above all else." (17:9). Such a comment might prompt reflection on who's in control of it... or whether controlling it is even possible! Not an easy undertaking. But super significant! Maybe it's a good idea from time to time for all of us to take a YOU turn!

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