Image by Eric Hart, used with permission (CC 3.0)
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord...
It's far too common that we fear change, and even moreso that we refuse to admit--or, even, to notice--our faults.
Some who face that verse in Acts will puzzle over it for a moment. Refreshing? Repentance is an instant of self-defeat. Cathartic, perhaps, but it's self-defeat. It's raw and psychologically injurious.
But there's a difference between repentance and confession. Confession is saying, "I did the wrong thing." That doesn't require a change of action. It just makes me look like an idiot if I don't change. Repentance is saying, "I actively refuse to participate in my past tendencies." It takes effort, self-control, restraint, intention, replacement. Something like that.
But this verse says that the result is refreshment, the state of being refreshed. There is joy in this, in a new outlook, a reframed reason for living, a definitive focus.
It makes me think of the image of the three "youths" (?) in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace. After Azariah's prayer of repentance, God "made the inside of the furnace as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it" (Daniel 3).
Keith Green, addressing the Holy Spirit as "Ruach," sang, "Rushing wind blow through this temple." I've a hunch that this rushing wind arrived more like the still, small voice that convicted Elijah.
Gentle. Powerful. Transformative. Devastating to evil. Comforting.
I like that brand of Gentle. It's not weak, but it is nice.