January is a great month for health clubs. It’s the month when millions of people decide to get fit. Hundreds of thousands of people will investigate clubs in their area and invest in a membership in one. Then for the next several weeks they will go daily, at least every few days, … well twice last week, … this week will be better. And by spring tens of thousands of people are still at it, to some degree.
I can relate to this. For over twenty years I have been doing exercises for my back. I have developed detailed plans and tracking methods. They all have worked for several months. Then an unusual event or trip interferes with my new routine and I miss a day. And once having demonstrated that I can miss a couple of days, I am more likely to excuse missing a few more times to exercise. And soon I am down to exercising only a couple of times a week, next week will be better, … Then my back will ache and I will get back into my exercise routine again or start a new routine.
My struggle with maintaining a regular exercise routine has taught me about repentance. Like my exercise routines, turning toward God has happened in the past with continuing efforts to return toward God.
Repentance, like exercising, continues longer with other like-minded people. For a few years I swam laps at the same time on several days each week alongside other people. When I missed a day, they would ask where I had been and encourage my return, as I would also do for them. Similarly each worship service includes a unison prayer of confession and passing of the peace as we welcome our neighbors return.
My exercise program has succeeded, not because of continuous success, but because of repeatedly returning.
Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says:
‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty.
– Zechariah 1:3 (NIV)