As far as the East is from the West
Today, January 25th, 2018 is the feast of the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. What does “conversion” mean? In Christianity, it means “repentance and change to a godly life”. It is very closely related to the Hebrew concept of “teshuvah”, which is often unfortunately translated as “repentance”. A better way of translating it would be “a turning” – to turn away from sin, and to turn towards God.
What are you following? Or better, WHO are you following? Which way are you headed? What direction are you pointed? What is in front of you?
Consider this verse from Psalms –
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed
our transgressions from us.
– Psalm 103:12
And now consider this quote –
“When a person stands facing the east, that person needs but a turning about to face west. Likewise, a sinner needs but a slight mental turning-about to be far removed from one’s transgressions.” – Rabbi Nathan David Sidlovtzer (19th century Hasidic rabbi)
How far apart is the East from the West? A long distance, you’d think. Yet, really, the only difference between East and West is direction. If you turn around, you are facing the other direction.
It isn’t about distance, but direction.
Our sins are removed from us in that turning towards God.
It isn’t about how far away we are from our sinful past, but what direction we are pointed. It doesn’t matter if you have been sober for an hour or a decade – it matters that you are on the right path.
Every time we turn towards God, our slate is wiped clean. We get a second chance.
(Inspired by Hasidic rabbi Nathan David Sidlovtzer’s quote “It is only one step to turn from east to west. Likewise a sinner needs but a slight mental turning-about to be far removed from his transgressions, east to west.”)