There’s an amusing story of a farmer who owned a very beautiful horse of which he was very proud.
One day he rode him into town and carefully tied the animal to the hitching post in front of the general store.
Two thieves, passing through the town, spied the handsome horse and decided to steal it. They also decided on a clever strategy to carry out their plan. One of them untied the horse and rode swiftly away.
The other remained by the post. When the farmer emerged from the store and saw that his horse was gone, he was about to shout for help when the conspirator walked up to him.
In a sad, low tone he said, “Sir, I am your horse. Years ago I sinned, and for my sins I was punished. I was changed into a horse. Today my sentence is over, and I can be released if you will be so kind.”
The farmer was dumbfounded, yet touched by the story. So he sent the man away wishing him luck in his new life. Several weeks later the farmer went to a fair in a neighboring town. Great was his surprise to see his own horse for sale there.
After gazing long at the animal to make sure that his eyes did not deceive him, he walked over and whispered into the horse’s ear, “So -- I see you’ve sinned again!”
When we sin again, even though we don’t turn into a horse, but our humanity is diminished.
And we are called to repentance, which means to restore our lost humanity -- to transform ourselves into the fully human person God wants us to be.
“The time has come,” Jesus says, “and the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News” (Mk. 1:15). In Mark’s Gospel, these are the first words spoken by Jesus, and this statement represents the spirit of His entire ministry: a series of demands for rebirth and renewal.
The Kingdom of God lies within us. Jesus asks us to descend deep within to encounter the self He would have us become. He asks us to recognize His Sacred Presence deep within our hearts.
He asks us to rise above the doubts and difficulties and fears that are the constant companions of deep-seated change. He asks us to repent.
Jesus wants us to forgive those who hurt us; to pray for those who mistreat us; to bless those who hate us; to give aid and comfort to those who need us; to humble ourselves before the weak; to be most merciful and compassionate toward the outcasts, even the most unsavory members of society -- to do all these things consistently means for us an entire lifetime of dedication to change.
Never are we fully equal to the challenge. Always there is a need to reorder our lives. Are you ready for change in your life? Remember, when there is change in your life make it for the better.
Bob Collier is the pastor of North Salem Church of God.