Luke records the message of the angel, Gabriel, to Zacharias about the birth and life of John the Baptist. In part he declared that the ministry of John “would turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.” He would go in the spirit of Elijah “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” Luke 1:16-17.
Turn is a word that is usually defined as something to do with rotation or focus. The biblical word in Luke’s gospel is to turn toward something or someone. We use the word in conversation. How will things turn out. The discussion took a dramatic turn. We need to turn things around. There are many other ways we use the word.
John the Baptist challenged people to turn toward God. Prayer turns our faces and focus toward God. We are drawn toward many things. Our focus may be primarily on ourselves, our challenges, ambition, problems or phones. Prayer turns us from all else toward God. John used a second way. Fathers would be turned toward their children. Their hearts, the place of affection, would focus on their children. I think this could only be accomplished when we are first turned toward God.
When I was a boy, I remember churches having “watch night” services. These would be held on December 31 and last until midnight. We were gathered to see the old year pass and the new year enter. It made an impression on a young boy. First of all, to stay up until midnight was a big deal. The strongest memory, however, is remembering that the people at church entered the new year in prayer. I am so grateful for experiences long ago. I did not recognize their importance then. Now they stand as reminders of people who turned to the Lord and whose hearts were turned toward their children.
We need to turn things around. We could use a dramatic turn. How will things turn out? We will find out as we seek Him. May our focus be fixed on Him, and our hearts’ affection turned toward others.