Most people turn over their new leaves and do all their planning around the first of January. But I have always used the start of a new school year as a time for personal reflection and course adjustments. (The Bible calls these courses adjustments, “repentance.” It is the idea of turning completely around and heading in the other direction.)
With school starting in just a week or two, I thought it might be time for some “repenting” of our own. And I read a funny story to illustrate the point.
A story is told of a farmer with three sons: Homer, Ted and Ralph. Not one in the family had ever attended church or had any time for God. The pastor and others in the church had tried for years to interest the family in the things of God until one day Homer was bitten by a rattlesnake.
The doctor was called in immediately and he did all he could to help Homer, but the outlook for his recovery was grim. As a last resort, the pastor was called and he began to pray:
“O wise and righteous Father, we thank you that in your wisdom you sent this rattlesnake to bite Homer. Homer has never been inside the church and it is doubtful that he has in all this time, ever prayed or even acknowledged your existence. Now we hope that this experience will teach him a valuable lesson and will lead to his genuine repentance.
And now O Father, will you send another rattlesnake to bite Ted and another one to bite Ralph and a really big one to bite the old man?
It seems that what we couldn’t do with all our preaching, this rattlesnake has done. Therefore, we can only conclude that the only thing that will do this family any real good is rattlesnakes. So, Lord, send us bigger and better rattlesnakes. Amen.”
The moral of this story is simple. Unless we want God to have to use things like “bigger and better rattlesnakes,” we ought to do our own repenting. Let’s take some time this week to review our lives. Let’s think about our relationships, our work, our service, our devotion to the Lord and our character. Is there anything that needs adjusting?
We are commanded to repent (“…He commands all people everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30). But He promises to be “close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18)
So, it’s time to get ready for the fall. Let’s make sure we are starting with a clean slate and a pure heart. Great way to avoid the rattlesnakes.