1st Week of Lent
A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (Psalm 51:19)
Imagine a group of nuns building a chapel by hand. They have one cart between them for carrying sand. One morning, that cart tips over six times in a row. Their leader comes and points out that maybe the trouble is that they need to repent for something. So the sisters pause, pray together, and realize that they have been criticizing one another in their hearts. After this admission and apologies all around, everyone is much more at peace. And the cart doesn’t tip over anymore!
This story is from Basilea Schlink, leader of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. In her book Repentance—The Joy-Filled Life, she shows how repentance is crucial if we want to grow in our relationship with the Lord.
Schlink writes that just as an earthly father “is waiting for a response from his children . . . our Father, who created us and who loves us with an unfathomable love, waits.” He waits for us to turn to him in repentance. He waits, oh so patiently, for us to turn back to him. Think of the “good thief” who hung on the cross next to Jesus. With just a few short words, he confesses that he has sinned, and he turns to Jesus for salvation. And right then and there, Jesus promises heaven! There, at the last hour, God’s patience paid off, and this man found the salvation he was longing for.
Jesus has not come “to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Luke 5:32). That’s all of us! His invitation is wide and generous. Whether we have committed horrible sins or just told little white lies, he asks us to come clean—and to come to him. He wants to shower us with his mercy, but he needs us to take the first step toward him in repentance.
As we come to Jesus with humble honesty about how we have fallen short, he will take care of the rest. This simple, honest confession, “I have sinned,” is all that he asks. That brief moment, when we are exposed before the Lord, is a moment of great joy for him. We have come back to him, and now he can embrace us, forgive us, and heal us!
“Father, thank you for your mercy! Help me always to be open and honest with you.”