After two consecutive days of apologizing to several students for my sharp words, I began pondering the meaning of repentance. Why do I keep failing? Shouldn’t I be able to repent – and if I do it just right—have clear sailing from there? Isn’t confession meant to clear the conscience, bringing sweet peace along with the ability to choose wisely in the future?
Yet, I found that even after I had sincerely apologized (with no excuses or accusations), instead of having a quiet heart, I still felt a weight on my soul—a heavy sense of failure, shame, and, of course, an accompanying layer of discouragement.
So, really, what is repentance?
As cried out to the Lord, He began giving me different thoughts and words that gave me another concept of repentance. Repentance is a sacred privilege offered only to humans, a gift angels cannot receive. The call to ongoing repentance is an invitation to experience anew the miracle of salvation. As such, it becomes a way of escape He mercifully provides, not evidence of my failure, but rather the path to receiving the Father’s “Well done!” I can hear His approval both at the end of time, and repeatedly here on earth.
In that case, failing to live a life of repentance is failure.
He rejoices when I repent, not just initially at salvation, but in the shape of a life that is humble and quick to confess sin.
At these thoughts, I quickly discovered that joy now replaced the heaviness and shame that had been weighing on me. So I had actually pleased Him when I repented! And needing to repent again does not mean I didn’t repent right or wasn’t sorry enough.
Will I need to repent again? Yes. Many more times. But this new perspective now changes how I will respond. Now I can say, “I don’t have to repent, I get to!” The need to repent invites me to turn my face to Him and to rejoice again in His mercy. I can almost hear Him say, “Well-done! You repented again!” His invitation to repent, and my response to that call, cause me to acknowledge repeatedly how gracious and loving He is.
CONTRIBUTOR: Betty Yoder