Teshuvah is the Jewish word that has loosely been translated as Repentance, meaning to turn from. But what is lacking in that definition is that there is also something to turn to, or return to, more precisely. Even for those who never actively sought G-d as a conscious decision it is still a "returning", for those who do not acknowledge Him have still, by simple default, "left" the original design, which was to Love Him, to be like Him and bring Him glory! We are already loved by Him! But we are not keeping our end of things! And we seem to be profoundly ignorant of that fact! It leads one to ponder and search out what is going on here?
People sing songs and write poems and prose about "Getting back to the Garden", but I do not think that they have thought it through. The main attraction of the Garden, according to these songs, etc. is the Peace that was there, the lack of striving, stress and negative vibes, bad carma, etc. And that is undoubtedly true. The glaring truth that apparently escapes them is that all this "LOVE" was produced by G-d, not man. Hence the problem, when they left Him to pursue their own bright ideas the good feeling was gone.
So logically the only thing that will fix our human dilemma is to get back to Him! Duh! As the teens of today love to say to anything that is totally obvious! But that presents another conundrum, and that is just how is this accomplished. There are more religions out there then there are brands of cereal! Which one points the way back to Him?
This is the quest I have been on my entire life. I found Him originally in a tiny classroom of a Missionary Baptist Church in the South. Some years later, I had a "close encounter" of the best kind with Him, at a Full Gospel Business Men's meeting, wherein I got "filled with His Spirit and spoke with other tongues", according to the 2nd chapter of the book of Acts (which ended my association with the Baptist Church - I did not leave on my own, but I immediately got the left foot of fellowship!) . Since then I have attempted to follow the leading of His Spirit, while fielding human interruptions, and possibly diversions from other realms! This has led me from church to church and culture to culture, but along the way I have been observing, gleaning and sorting the ideas that have come to me.
I have several mental "filing baskets" into which these things go for consideration, to discern if they are actually Scriptual Truth or not (before they are allowed to be "downloaded, and make changes to the hard-drive" preferably)! But try as I may there still has to be an "uninstall" done every so often, so that I feel I spend as much time unlearning as I do learning! A tiresome process, but necessary to progress.
My latest learning curve has come to me in the form of Messianic belief structures/ culture/ all encompassing life-style! What a Challenge! Suddenly, I have been confronted with the raw (and very unpleasant to me) truth that I have not been obeying G-d in some very important and significant ways! @#$%$^#&*! Who knew?
And it isn't because I am some rebellious "Jezebel", some conniving witch, that just tramples the Word of G-d blithely underfoot! No! It is because I have been duped, robbed, hornswaggled and short-changed! The religious system in America, while grasping (by some miracle that is beyond me) the barest essence of Salvation in the atoning work of Yeshua/Jesus, has managed to miss the core message of His teaching entirely! So, while falling all over themselves/ourselves to please G-d, and paying great prices to do so, they/we are still missing it and failing almost completely, and so profoundly! And the prices they/we have paid are utterly and completely worthless, because it isn't what G-d asked them/us to do in the first place! Our church "Fathers" have been deceived and passed the "favor" on to us! Gee thanks guys! Ah the stupidity of the simple fallen flesh apart from the Spirit! We should be humble enough to truly admit our need for His guidance, and to truly submit to His Word.
Now I admit that I have had difficult with that concept, of submission as taught by the institution called the Church. (Note: When I say Church I am speaking of the institution which does contain those individuals who are the "Church" - ecclesia, called apart ones, body of Christ, etc. - but which, unfortunately, also includes tares posing as the church but bent on its destruction- if only subconsciously).
But I realized at some point in my healing process that the problem I had was not originating from within myself! The issue was that what was being taught mistakenly for "submission" would have better been labeled abject slavery! Submission is an act of the free will, something that most religious institutions fear and prohibit - if only subconsciously. I keep using that term, "if only subconsciously", because it was apparent to me that they do not mean to confuse people. Yet They do, and in observing this process for about 30 years or so, I saw that the the confusion for me was due to the fact that they spoke of free will in positive terms, but then all their actions, decisions, and teaching did not enforce or encourage it!
However, due to the healing power of the Spirit of G-d, I finally got healed enough to realize the deception and to revolt against it! And was promptly labeled by those ins authority as rebellious, and toxic! lol Well so be it. I will always, G-d helping me, rebel against unrighteous oppression; and toxicity to weeds is a good thing!
Now do not misconstrue my message here, I am not just on a Church-bashing rant! G-d forbid! Though they/we have unwittingly left the path of righteousness, it has not been their/our fault! You see I must include myself in the incriminating remarks, because I lived in that deceptive fog, fighting to see truth for much longer than I have been in this system of belief. And frankly, the sailing is not entirely smooth "over here" in Messianic land either! We are still on earth, a fallen planet! And as long as we are, there will be a deceptive force at work. The Word warns us of it over and over! So I tread this new territory with my eyes wide open and my ears tuned in more than ever!
Yet, as I slog through the new depths which I have discovered I find that whereas the religious material of the past more closely resembled manure, no doubt enriching in some ways, but unpleasant to assimilate, that this is more like Honey! It is still difficult, a bit sticky perhaps, to navigate but ever so much sweeter! Because it is the Word! Torah! That the Anointed One came to fulfill!
The spirits behind the deception of the church sought to annul it, to rescind it, and deprive it of its authority. Yet, Yeshua Himself stated firmly that He came to fulfill it to its ultimate purpose and completion! He came to execute it, as in a lawyer executes a will, not as in a firing squad executes a criminal! The law is not our enemy! The law is a form of the righteousness which Messiah came to establish within us! It is the "how-to" book of Holiness. If it were written today it would likely be called "Holiness for Dummies!" G-d forbid! But seriously, it is little more than an instruction book on how to "do" righteousness. What it looks like, talks like and lives like! It is the "down-low" on "How to Please a Holy G-d"! What part of that are we so afraid of?
We, the church-a-holics of America, have attempted to grasp the inheritance of the Covenant, as outlined in the "Blessing Chapter" of Deuteronomy, without fulfilling its prerequisites! We are exactly like the dude in the parable of the Prodigal which Yeshua taught. We demand our inheritance up front, and then squander it foolishly! If there was a map for the spiritual journey of American Christianity, there would be a marker stating, "YOU ARE HERE". That is, in the pig-sty of despair, starving to death trying to live on slop, while endlessly ranting about and expecting a blessing! Man wake up! You were given the blessing! You blew it!
But there is more to that story. Yeshua said that "He came to himself". Meaning that he suddenly realized the truth of his situation. The reality that he had behaved foolishly and was now reaping the consequences of those many stupid decisions! And then, finally, he made a quality decision, probably the first of his existence, he said, "I will return to my Father!"
You see, he was smitten with the realization of the ungrateful, ill mannered rudeness with which he had treated his father! And at the same time, he was overwhelmed with memories of what a kind and fair and reasonable and loving man his father truly was! He realized what a fool he had been to be demanding of his father's hard earned resources while rejecting of his rules, that he could see now were only for his benefit!
So, as a result, he was filled with remorse! That is part one of Teshuvah! Torah states that G-dly sorrow (not to be confused with fleshly depression) leads to repentance! He finally had a fill of his own ways and turned from them. But wallowing in the pig-sty of depression will not free us from it! Part two is also mandatory for optimal results! He got up from his pigsty, brushed himself off and began the arduous journey, he returned to his father! To his house, and once there he offered, no begged, to be allowed to become not only submissive, but completely subject as a slave, if he could only be a recipient of his father's kindness.
In other words, he finally "got a clue" to what a jerk he was, and to who his father was, and he rightly said, not in phony-baloney false humility, but in true humble reality, " I don't deserve your kindness, but I really need it and want it".
And his father did not say, "Well son, you've made your bed, now lie in it!". Though his big brother was quick with those sorts of self-righteous platitudes, I feel sure. But he said, "You are my son! You could never be a slave in my house! I have been waiting for you, praying for your return! Welcome home!" And he quickly provided him with all he needed! And he didn't sneak him in the back door, he threw a party for him, and invited all his friends!
That is the picture which Messiah painted for us of His Father's love for us. But we (the western church) have sat back, smugly thinking that this prodigal was surely Israel.
Bad news guys, guess what? They represent, in this dramatic parable, the snooty older brother who scoffed and bristled at the father taking this idiotic rebel back! After all, by Jewish law he had every reason to regard him as dead. He was as un-Kosher as you could get!
But the Father said to him, "What is your problem? All I have has been reserved for you, as I promised when you were born! You are my first-born! Your faithfulness will not go unrewarded! Now, get over yourself, and go welcome your once foolish, arrogant, and unwise, but now repentant younger brother!" Okay, that is my paraphrase, but you get the idea.
We, the "thoroughly modern" churched-culture in America need to wake up from our overly paganized, gentilized, so-not-set-apart, so-not-kosher, so-not-blessed, pig-sty existence and Return to Torah so that we can learn how to work this thing to which we have committed ourselves! You know, we should heed what we women are always saying to the men, "When all else fails, TRY READING THE INSTRUCTIONS!" So I have entered the process of backing up for the instructions!
So. That is my personal Teshuvah. There will be updates, I assure you. I am not one to suffer alone or silently. Perhaps some day as I become more like Yeshua! One can hope, if only because of Him.
Shalom, Gemar Chatimah Tovah! (May you be inscribed for good! - in the book of life)!
Sandra Carlton Duncan