I’ll never forget speaking in Pennsylvania a few years ago. I flew into University Park Airport in State College, Penn on Friday afternoon. It was a very small airport located next to Penn State University, but the closest airport to my speaking engagement in Bethlehem, PA, about an hour and fifteen minutes away. I had no problem getting to my speaking engagement and presenting the seminar for parenting over the weekend. It was on the way back on Sunday morning that the trouble developed. My flight left at 6:35 a.m., so I decided to get up at 3:30 a.m. and leave at 4:00 to make it in plenty of time. As I began to drive, I was hit with dense fog, but in my mind it was no big deal. I took a left on state route 322 from I-80 and was sailing along, but what was supposed to be the airport never surfaced. I kept on the directions and got farther and farther lost. It was black out (fog out). It was pea soup fog. I was lost.
I realized I would miss my flight and would be staying in Pennsylvania for another day as this flight was the only one flying back to my home that day. It was when I asked for directions from a man who was taking out his trash that I got on the right track. Rather than relying on my directions to the airport, I asked for help. My heart focused on seeking help instead of relying on myself and I made it to the airport. I parked my rental in front of the airport, ran into the airport and someone said, “Dr. Gorton, we have been waiting for you.” I got on the plane and the flight attendant said, “Good morning Mr. Gorton, we’ve been waiting for you and took off.” A change of directions. A change of heart. A changed focus.
That’s what Solomon said in II Chronicles 6. “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, (2 Chronicles 6:36-39 NIV) This passage is a conditional statement that starts out with “IF” If they have a change of heart. It’s not a forgone conclusion that when we get off track and sin that we will have a change of heart. I could have stayed with my original directions and never have made my flight. I needed to recognize that I needed help by changing my heart to seek advice. A changed heart is essential for forgiveness to truly take place.
There are three things that will stop change from taking place.
1. Denial. If I deny there is a problem, no change will take place
2. Minimization. If I minimize the problem and say it’s not that big of an issue, no change will happen
3. Justification. If I have reasons for what happened and seek to justify my actions, no change will happen.
On this journey of forgiveness, there needs to be a heart change.