When the first crop of satellite dishes began sprouting across my country parish I was curious to see how they worked. The first farmer I visited was a sports enthusiast. The huge dish in his back yard was simple enough. But the console looked like the cockpit of a jet plane.
He explained that he could and focus in on any one of five different satellites. And each of them had a hundred channels to choose from. That meant you could watch the local football, baseball, or hockey team in just about any city of North America.
The farmer was not interested in cricket or soccer, but he showed me how I could sit five days for a test match at Lord's or zero in on the fans fighting each other Manchester had been defeated. And if the game was on during a ploughing match, no problem: you just program the machine to deliver when you need it. I didn't dare ask how the cows ever got milked, or what his wife thought about their social life. Nor did it seem wise to see what programs his teenage son preferred to see.
Repentance is like that. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit each have a hundred channels we can turn to. We can set our spiritual eye for all the healing, strength, and wisdom we need for every situation of our lives. "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light" (Matthew 6:22).
There is no need to waste half an hour telling God you are a miserable sinner, or how sorry you have performed so badly. He already knows you haven't done so well. Repentance means recognizing what you need, defining it as you turn to God, and then listening and watching.
On the Holy Spirit satellite for example you can find out exactly what He has in mind for you to pray about. Or you can turn for wisdom in any difficult situation. There are resources for loving enemies, and impossible church people, family members, children, demanding parents, and even your husband or wife. There is a wonderful channel for praise and thanksgiving. Some miserable people should try the Holy Spirit's joy channel. My wife thinks I could do with a lot more patience. There are also resources for many different kinds of service (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
As with television, the problem is one of priorities. If you want a
particular football match you can't have the Rolling Stones at the same
time. You will never know the results and ratings if you are too busy at
the bar. The same with God. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).
So if you want to keep Lent as a preparation for Good Friday and Easter,
take time to enjoy all that God has for you.
[This was the substance of a meditation given in Agia Kyriaki, on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, for the Anglican branch of the Church in Paphos, Cyprus, February 25, 1998.]