Man's life is one endless series of decisions. What doea he do when he discovers that he made a mistake? He missed a right turn, or let his exit go by, and now he is no longer on the right route. Unless he makes a definite change, he is not going to reach his destination. Just driving forward is going to take him further and further away from where he had hoped to be. The only way to reach his destination is to turn around and travel in the opposite direction.
In the course of our lives, it's not always easy to stop and turn around. Sometimes it calls for swimming upstream, and fighting a strong current. Some people just carry on, as a default, even after they realize that they've gone astray. For one reason or another, they can't find the wherewithal to turn around and get back on the right track. It's too hard for them.
The Jew has another option. To make it easier for us to evaluate the path we're taking in life, G-d gives us one day a year when we devote ourselves only to spiritual concerns. On this day we set aside all physical concerns — even eating and drinking - and devote ourselves to our bond with the spiritual realm, to our relationship with our Maker.
On this day, all traffic comes to a halt. The highway is closed; the engines are stilled. Our everyday life-activities are all put on "hold" so that we will be free to get our bearings and see where we stand.
On this day, we have a chance to evaluate our situation and to decide whether we're right on course. This is the day to decide whether or not we need to make some adjustments, or re-organize our priorities.
If a person concludes that he has veered too far to the right or to the left, Yom Kippur gives him a golden opportunity to get back on course. He turns the steering wheel of his life in the right direction, and then sets out toward his goal with renewed energy and vigor, because he knows that G-d has forgiven him and will help him to stay on the right path in the future.
Obviously, Yom Kippur is not a blanket pardon for anyone who purposely sins while claiming: "It doesn't matter; I'll fast on Yom Kippur, and G-d will overlook all my misdeeds."
Our Sages teach us: "He who says 'I'll sin, and Yom Kippur will atone for me' is not granted atonement on Yom Kippur."
G-d knows what lies in the heart of each and every one of His Creatures, and He deals with each individual accordingly. The forgiveness on Yom Kippur is not given to us that we sin more, but that we sin less. Anyone who proposes to misuse this precious gift will be denied it altogether.
But for those who appreciate the magnitude of this gift, and use it wisely, it is the most important and potent day of the whole year. On Yom Kippur, we can begin our life journey anew, with revitalized strengths, knowing that now we are traveling in the right direction.