Repentance could be one of those hell-fire words to some of us older believers. It could be a dull, seemingly of non-interest to the younger. Yet, repentance is a main-stay in church theology.
Since conversion and soon-to-be in preaching school, I have heard the explanation/definition of repentance. As one reversing course in a marching band was one analysis. Changing one's mind; yet another. Discontinuing the acting out the disobedient and bad habits among us would surely fit.
Yet, I believe it to be more. I believe the essence of repentance is to reach some point where we quit trying to manage life, righteousness, and salvation on our own. We finally give up self-management and yield to Jesus.
Brent Curtis and John Eldredge say in The Sacred Romance that learning to relax in confidence in who Jesus is and what he does over who we try to be and what we try to accomplish is the essence of repentance. How we need this.
Listen in. Resting in Jesus is not applying a spiritual formula to ourselves as a kind of fix-it. It is the essence of repentance. It is letting our heart tell us where we are in our own story so that Jesus can minister to us out of the Story of his love for us. When, in a given moment, we lay down our false self and the smaller story of whatever performance has sustained us, when we give up everything else but him, we experience the freedom of knowing that he simply loves us where we are. We begin just to "be", having our identity anchored in him.
We tend to be obsessed with fixing things or seeking help to fix things before we first settle down in repentance and look to Jesus to give us peaceful response. We look to us for our answers. This calls for repentance.
Before we pray, we tend to get on the phone for advice. Before we settle to be still, we lean toward taking immature and immediate action.
To repent is to make drastic shift from self-enamorization and self-provision to complete rest in Jesus. This...is the essence of repentance.