more than just a prayer...
If you’re anything like how I used to be, the word ‘repent’ might make you wince. That word brings out feelings that are not fun to think about or deal with and usually means we must admit we did something wrong. But what if repentance was not viewed as feeling like we are in trouble, but rather as a way to realign ourselves with our Creator? The Hebrew word for repentance is teshuvah, which means to return as if turning back to something we’ve strayed from. We can shift our view of repentance as an opportunity to turn back to the Lord, to realign ourselves with His vision for us and our lives.
One of the most important things about repentance is realizing that it is more than just a prayer that is said. True repentance is a heart issue. It’s turning back to the Lord and saying to Him, “I’m sorry, I need your help to change.” The act of repentance happens throughout scripture, but one of my favorite examples is in Psalm 51 where David is repenting after the prophet Nathan has called him out for adultery and murder. Let’s break down a few of the verses in this Psalm.
“Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion.” Right at the beginning of Psalm 51, David asks God to be gracious to him. He’s calling out to God’s gracious and compassionate nature. The heart of God is for His children, He wants to give us grace and mercy, not because we deserve it, but because it is His character. Towards the end of these verses, David says, “blot out my rebellion,” which is a big ask to us considering what he is asking to be forgiven for. But that’s the thing about forgiveness from the Lord, nothing we do is too big or too bad to be forgiven by Him.
a humble heart...
“For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against you — you alone — I have sinned and done this evil in your sight.” In verses 3 and 4, David takes accountability for his sins, stating that he knows he sinned in the eyes of God. For true repentance to take place in us, we must acknowledge the sins we committed. We must come before God with a humble heart when we ask for forgiveness. Thankfully, God is God and not a human, so He welcomes us with open arms when we are coming to Him.
“God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.” Towards the end of the Psalm, in verses 10 through 12, David requests that God give him a clean heart, this shows us that David understands that true repentance is a heart issue, and that God alone is the one who can change us. When we stop trying to change ourselves out of our own strength and let God do work in us, we can rest, knowing that God has it in control.
Bringing up repentance is not a bad thing. It is not a tool that the Lord uses to make us feel shame or guilt surrounding our sins just to leave us there—it is a way for us to turn our eyes back to Him and realign with what He has for our lives. True repentance starts in your heart, you must let God in so He can work and change you from the inside out. You also must take responsibility for your sins, come to Him with a humble heart, and believe that He is the one who can and will change you.
Chelsea is a member of our By Design team and serves as the Creative Director for our ministry. She was born and raised in Jackson, Michigan. In her earlier years, she could not wait to explore beyond Jackson's borders. However, as she progressed through high school and college, a transformation occurred within her. The Lord ignited a profound love and compassion for Jackson and its people. Today, her heart is deeply connected to that community. For Chelsea, joy is intricately linked to the people around her. She has a strong passion for hospitality, ensuring that there is always fresh coffee brewing and taking in the precious moments when she gets to engage in heartfelt conversations or share in prayer. Making others feel seen and heard brings her immense happiness. Chelsea enjoys the simple pleasures of life. Reading, writing, and cooking are her most cherished pastimes. When she is not engaged in work, you will likely discover her in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes, all in the pursuit of creating beautiful moments for her family.
Photos by Cate Autumn Photography. Headshot provided by Chelsea Woods.