Day 3 – 28 February

Credit: Ben White

It’s Friday, February 28. Welcome to the Lent journey. Thank you for walking with us for 40 days as we prepare our hearts for Easter. My name is Gina, and I’ll be sharing the Scripture reading, reflection and prayer time with you today.

(Click on the podcast to the right so you can listen as you read along.)

Theme: The joy of repentance.

Scripture reading: Psalm 51:1–10

Reflection

My parents raised me in the knowledge of God. From the time I was born, they took me to church where I learned what it means to follow God and to please Him.

When I was still very small, I was playing with a friend who showed me some of her new toys. They were just cheap plastic rings that were meant to look like flashy jewelry. But I thought they were so sparkly and beautiful.

I wanted them.

When she left the room for a moment, I hid the rings in my pocket. When she came back, she didn’t notice they were gone.

Once I got home, I went to my room, closed the door, and took out my new rings to admire them and try them on.

The rings, so dazzling and tempting at my friend’s house, now left a heavy, sick feeling in my stomach. I put them in a drawer to play with later.

But the sick feeling wouldn’t go away. I knew it was because I had stolen the rings. The weight of my guilt clung to me no matter where I was, or what I was doing. Learning for the first time in my life about the weary burden that is guilt, I couldn’t even stand to look at or play with what I had stolen. I even tried to forget I had them at all.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get rid of the awful, sick feeling. First I threw the rings in a garbage can. But that didn’t free me from the burden. So I took them out.

Then, I thought about going to play with my friend again, and bringing the rings in my pocket. When she wasn’t looking, I’d put them back with her things so that she would never even know I had stolen them.

That strategy didn’t make me feel better, either.

I knew what I had to do: I had to confess my guilt and return the stolen rings. Of course, I didn’t want to. It would be humiliating. Everyone would be disappointed to learn I had stolen something. But there was simply no other way.

Trudging slowly, as if I were slogging through mud in shoes made of concrete blocks, I crossed to my neighbor’s door. Her mother answered. My friend wasn’t home.

I put the toy rings in her mother’s hand and said, “I stole these from your daughter. And I’m really sorry. I wanted to give them back. Would you please tell her?”

Her mother looked surprised and said, “Sure.” She closed the door, and I turned back toward home.

This time my steps were lighter. It felt like jumping around in a bounce house! The chains of my guilt had been broken. My heart was free. I smiled and skipped the rest of the way home.

Repentance feels so good! Why do we fear and dread it so much?

You can just hear that weight of guilt in David’s confession:

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.

It sounds as if, like me, he just couldn’t take it anymore. The writer longs to escape his heavy burden, to experience the joyous freedom of repentance and forgiveness.

He begs God,

Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.  And after you have punished me, give me back my joy again. Don’t keep looking at my sins—erase them from your sight. Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires.

David doesn’t just ask for forgiveness for what he’s done; he asks to be changed, to be transformed to be holy like God.

Repentance is defined as a deep sorrow and regret for past wrongdoing that gives us the determination not to repeat the wrong. It’s appropriate during Lent, a traditional time of mourning for sin, that we ask God if there is something of which we may need to repent.

God is filled with joy at our repentance. Like the father in the New Testament story of the Prodigal Son, God stands at His open door, waiting, yearning, hoping, that His broken relationship with His estranged child will be restored; that His child will come home. There’s no need to strain under the burden of guilt or failure. What better time than now to release that burden by saying we are sorry and asking God to change us?

If the Spirit shows us something that has damaged our relationship with God, let’s run to Him in sorrowful repentance so we can receive the joy and lightness of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Reflection

  1. Is there any part of your life where you feel uneasy, or heavy? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there is something of which you need to repent.
  2. Is there something in your life that is displeasing to God, but that no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to stop doing it? Ask the Holy Spirit to shatter its power over you. Ask Him to fill you with so much gratitude and love for God that this area of sin is no longer a temptation.
  3. If you are not in a discipleship relationship, ask God to guide you to a mature Christian who can disciple you in loving God, making right choices and resisting temptation.

Prayer

Father, there is so much suffering in this life. We suffer because things happen to us through no fault of our own. Other times, we suffer because we have made wrong choices, deliberately or through our ignorance. In either case, we become dragged down with heavy chains of guilt, regret, and shame. Thank you for your promise that no matter what we have done or left undone, if only we run to you and grieve our wrong choices, you will purify us, clean us, and cast off our chains of guilt and shame. You promise to restore us to a full, pure relationship with you and forget whatever we’ve done that has hurt you.

Please show us anything of which we need to repent, and give us the wisdom and courage to make it right. Not just with you, but with anyone else we’ve hurt or neglected.

Thank you for being a God of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Amen.

Closing

Today’s additional scripture passages include:

Watch the video testimony of a woman who met the living God in prison, and experienced the transformation and new life that comes with repentance.

Invite your friends and family to participate in our Lent prayer and fasting journey. Post a link from our website to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  

I look forward to being with you again tomorrow for another day of scripture reading, reflection and prayer in our Lent journey.

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