While interviewing an inmate to determine his progression to a minimum-security correctional centre, I asked him the routine question about plans for his pending return to his family and community after a lengthy period of incarceration. His reply surprised me and set forth the fruits of sincerely repenting and obtaining forgiveness. He said: “I look back and I’m sorry for what I’ve done, I just want my old life back.”
This man remembers what it was like when he was a good and clean person and wanted to start over; to continue his life and to become a decent and respectable citizen. With the support of friends and family, he has every chance of success.
Sincere repentance allows us to return to a point in our lives that we remember when we were clean before, and we can start anew! Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy taught “While we are grateful for second chances following mistakes, or failures of the mind, we stand all amazed at the Savior’s grace in giving us second chances in overcoming sin, or failures of the heart. . . .
“Repentance isn’t His backup plan in the event we might fail. Repentance is His plan, knowing that we will.”1
President Russell M. Nelson asked and answered this question at the April general priesthood session: “‘Does everyone need to repent?’ The answer is yes.”
President Nelson continued, “Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.”2
Isaiah quotes the Lord: “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people”3; with the Apostle Paul restating this to the Roman Saints: “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people”4. Jacob offers the same encouragement, that the Lord remembers His covenant people “and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long”5.
The prophets teach that the gift of repentance is available all day and every night, meaning, all the time. President Nelson teaches that “Whether you are diligently moving along the covenant path, have slipped or stepped from the covenant path, or can’t even see the path from where you are now, I plead with you to repent. Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day.”6
Elder Brian K. Taylor of the Seventy offered the benediction at the recent general priesthood session. He expressed “our” sense of deep gratitude for the Saviour’s atoning sacrifice for each of us “that we might run unto Thee to repent of our sins.”
President Nelson quoted a stake president who recently taught the following in a stake leadership meeting: “If we really understood the doctrine of repentance, we would run to repent. We must teach our youth to run to repent, because if they run away from repentance, they are marooned!”
Repentance and forgiveness of sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is accessible and readily available to all.
Like the prodigal son, remember that we are children of a patient and loving Father in Heaven. Through His Son, the outstretched arms of mercy reach out to us all the day long; anxious to forgive, heal and point the way on the path back to our Heavenly home.
I have a personal testimony of the cleansing and assuring power of the Saviour’s Atonement in my life through daily and sincere repentance; line upon line. Through His infinite Atonement, the Saviour continues to invite us to follow Him. I know that the promised joy and peace will come to all who seek repentance and follow the Lord on the covenant path.