Times of refreshing when we need it most

My journey in hearing God’s voice more clearly and more often has come to involve many little instances, times, and places in my life where I stop and listen inside my spirit to see if His Spirit has something to say.  One thing that I did recently was to install a “verse of the day” app that displays a daily scripture verse on my phone. It is simply one more reminder and opportunity in my busy day to stop and listen for His voice. I read the verse and listen to see if He wants to speak to me through that verse! 

So a little while back, the verse was Acts 3:19. In this verse, Peter says:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Times of Refreshing. Wow!

When I think of the word “refreshing,” I think of a plant that is wilted and struggling to live. But then it finally gets the water and nutrients it needs, and its leaves strengthen and rise up and become strong again. It becomes refreshed.

How many times in your life have you felt like you’re wilting and struggling to live? Struggling to thrive? How many times have you felt like you just needed some times of refreshing?

We in the United States frequently say when we feel like this that “we need a vacation.” In our imagination, a vacation is a chance to recharge. To come back ready to tackle life again. 

But how often does a vacation actually do that? 

Times of Refreshing.

Doesn’t that sound like another term for ‘vacation’? Except Peter was talking about times of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord.

I ask you: which do you think our souls would be most blessed and refreshed by? An earthly vacation that gets our body away from our daily grind and where we do our best to get our mind off of the work that’s waiting for us when our vacation is over? Or something that comes straight from the presence of God?

There’s nothing wrong with a vacation. But what about all those times when a vacation isn’t an option?

What can we find in God’s presence?

“In Your presence is fullness of joy.” – Ps. 16:11

Joy. When my soul is feeling exhausted, joy is usually lacking. My “I just need a vacation” soul needs joy. 

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” – Neh. 8:10

If we believe that these two verses are true, then His presence also brings strength through that joy. And strength is also something my soul needs when I get that “I need a vacation” feeling. 

“At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Ps. 16:11

Do we really believe this is truth? That eternal pleasures – pleasures that last forever instead of being temporary – are found in His presence? 

“In the shelter of your presence you hide them…” – Ps. 31:20

His presence is the ultimate safe getaway! 

“Blessed are those… who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” – Ps. 89:15

The light of His presence. There is no confusion in His presence! Have you ever thought about how tiring confusion is to our soul? 

“Truly my soul finds rest in God.” – Ps. 62:1

Now here is the main thing we expect a vacation to give us. Rest. Ah, rest!

So how do we access these times of refreshing from God’s presence? Let’s read the verse again. 

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

This verse doesn’t say, “Get away from the stress of life and take a vacation, that times of refreshing may come and restore you.”

Nope! What does it say to do when we need refreshing? 


Can it be that the whole reason we are wilting and struggling to thrive is because of the toxicity of sin weighing us down? Is the vacation perhaps the wrong place to look for refreshing?

I used to shy away from this word repentance, but I’ve been learning the secret glory in repentance.

What if you were on your way to that vacation destination and you unknowingly made a wrong turn? What would your GPS say? It would say, “Recalculating.” Then it would give you directions in how to turn around. Would you follow the instruction and change your course? If you wanted to reach that vacation destination, you would! 

That’s what repentance is.

When we first accept salvation, we must repent and receive God’s forgiveness. That forgiveness was granted 2000 years ago when Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross, but we have to receive it. That sacrifice covers all of our sin, past, present, and future, and Peter was indeed talking about that repentance. 

But repentance isn’t a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing thing we’re in need of. We don’t repent, start out on our journey, and travel it perfectly all the way until we take our last breath. We make mistakes along the way, and the faster we allow the Lord to correct us, the more smooth our journey is!

The Lord has really caused me to re-think my definition of “sin” in the last year. A year ago, when I thought of sin in my life, I considered whether I had lied, whether I had looked at or read or watched something that grieved the heart of God, whether I had spoken harshly to people, etc. I thought about my actions

But what did God say? “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) 

The sin that Jesus’s blood washes us of isn’t limited to outward sins. It even cleanses us from the inner things that try to trap us on a daily basis. Pride. Ignoring and disobeying the quiet whispered direction from His Spirit. Offense that has crept into our heart. Willfulness that sets itself up against the will of God. These things might not often be discussed, but they will indeed pull us off course and out of His presence, for no sin can exist in the glory of His presence! 

This ongoing repentance isn’t about God granting more forgiveness. It’s about us making as many course corrections in our current path as needed. Sometimes they’re big, but sometimes they’re small. In fact, the closer we walk to Him, the smaller those course corrections get… but they’re still vital! 

Psalm 91 talks about walking in the shadow of the Almighty God. When we’re walking with God, repentance is us following the little nudges His Spirit gives which are prompting slight changes in our course so that we don’t wander out of His shadow.  Surrender those worries to Me. Fast ____ and spend time with Me instead. Let go of that offense. Forgive that person. Ask for forgiveness from ____. Humble yourself.

There is no shame involved in this repentance! There is excitement as our spirit exclaims, “Oh! You’re taking me that way! Yes, I will walk that way with You!”

This example might make you laugh, but consider a well-trained dog’s devotion to his master. The dog has learned to “heel” — to walk in step with his master. The dog’s complete focus is on his master, and when the master stops, he stops. When the master moves, he moves. And he is constantly excited to do so! 

This is what repentance looks like when we are learning to walk with God. We’re still learning, so sometimes we wander out of His shadow. Then our soul gets tired and weary, and we need those times of refreshing! And so we look to God. 

Lord God, I need You. What change in my path do I need to make – big or small – so that I am back in Your shadow and Your presence? I am willing to make any change that You ask of me! Draw me into Your glorious presence by Your grace and mercy so that I may be granted Your times of refreshing, given to me by Your power and Your faithfulness! I look to You for everything I need!

Psalm 63

God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You;

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,

In a dry and exhausted land where there is no water.

2 So have I seen You in the sanctuary,

To see Your power and glory.

3 Because Your favor is better than life,

My lips will praise You.

4 So I will bless You as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands in Your name.

5 My soul is satisfied as with fat and fatness,

And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

6 When I remember You on my bed,

I meditate on You in the night watches,

7 For You have been my help,

And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.

8 My soul clings to You;

Your right hand takes hold of me.

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