A friend recently asked about my thoughts on making repentance less intimidating. My immediate answer was, “Well, perhaps we should get President Nelson to stop using the words ‘daily’ and ‘repentance’ in the same sentence!”1 We both had a chuckle, but while pondering his question, I recalled my first experience with repentance. It was both challenging and liberating.
My experience with repenting
As a young man I stole a tool from a local merchant. Later, I began to feel a desire to set my life right with the Lord. This required a visit to my bishop, who, despite my misgivings, was kind and loving. He taught me about the Lord’s love for me and His gratitude for my repentance. He also explained the necessity of making things right. I soon found myself in a checkout line of that same store explaining to the cashier that I wanted to pay for a tool I had stolen years before. Not knowing what to do, she called the manager over and the two of them talked it over with me. But not in private! I can still feel the stares of those waiting in line.
Despite being sure that my knees would buckle under me at any moment, I stayed the course, paid the money, and swore I would sin no more.
Seek forgiveness through repentance
After my knees regained their composure, I felt the most amazing sense of exhilaration. I knew the Lord was pleased with me. Since that day, despite my swearing not to, I have found myself in company with all of God’s children having a need to again seek forgiveness through repentance.
Wilford Woodruff once said,
“The first principle of [the] Gospel is faith. Well, the people of the world may say, we all believe in Jesus Christ. Yes, but there is something to do besides believing in Christ. We must repent of our sins.”2
It takes faith to move forward
For many, that first experience with repentance can be quite intimidating. It takes faith to move forward. Thoughts of past mistakes will come to mind, bringing along feelings of guilt, and occasionally even feelings of personal shame. We may worry what the Lord thinks, what the bishop will think, or what loved ones may think should they become aware. We fear the unknown of going down a path that we know will not be easy.
But why should we worry? Let us remember who we are approaching, even Jesus Christ. To His prophet Jeremiah, Jesus said, “I am the Lord which exercise[s] lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24; emphasis added).
Have more comforting words ever been spoken? In His loving kindness, Christ delights in our improvements, and that is what repentance is, after all. So why wait until the years have stored up bushels of sin? In the parable of the prodigal son, the son’s father ran with open arms, his heart bursting with joy that his son had come home (see Luke 15:11–32).
Christ and our father delight in our repentance
And so will our Father in Heaven! It turns out that President Nelson was spot on with his words of “daily” and “repentance” in the same sentence. Let us begin by taking those first steps home with faith in God. Then let us be determined to stay the course with daily repentance.
Craig Lindquist is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, happily married to Dianna for the past 46 years. By trade he is a cabinetmaker, actor, and writer. He lives in Henderson, Nevada, except when he travels for film or for working on the construction of temples.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation’s mission is to digitally preserve and publish Wilford Woodruff’s eyewitness account of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and make his records universally accessible in order to inspire all people, especially the rising generation, to study and to increase their faith in Jesus Christ. For more information, please explore wilfordwoodruffpapers.org.