this is the Lord’s declaration—
turn to me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts,
not just your clothes,
and return to the Lord your God.
For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger,
abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave a blessing behind him,
so you can offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God.
I sat on my friend’s couch, looking at the sweet women in my small group. We were discussing the chapters we’d read in the last week, and it was time.
Nobody would know if I didn’t speak up. Though we’d been talking about the parts of the book that had encouraged and convicted us most, they had no idea how God had used one small paragraph to remove the scales from my eyes and pierce my heart with fiery truth. I didn’t have to confess. But it was time.
I took a deep breath and blurted it out. I told them how I’d thought of a friend who needed to read a specific point in our book — and how God had straightened me right up, making it clear in my heart that I was the one who needed that message. I told them how He’d brought to mind a situation in which I was the guilty party, in which I had deliberately disobeyed God’s commands.
Eyes downcast, I assured them I’d learned my lesson. I apologized, aware that I’d probably disappointed them. Their response was so kind. They understood how hard it can be to love others the way God calls us to. But like best friends do, they offered accountability alongside their grace and mercy. And in that moment, when they forgave me but didn’t excuse my actions, I realized how long it had been since I had sincerely confessed a sin.
Of course, I apologize for mistakes all the time. And certainly, in quiet moments in a church service or the carpool line or the shower, I might be hit with conviction. But in the same breath I utter a quick “sorry,” I immediately move into gratitude for forgiveness and fresh mercies, vowing to try harder and do better next time.
Facing my sin that morning, I saw clearly my need for true confession, for the fasting and weeping and mourning that comes when we recognize just how far from holy we are. Don’t get me wrong! I don’t think God intends for us to wallow in our regret, to stay stuck in the mud of our mistakes without hope or healing. He is, after all, a God of forgiveness and mercy. He’s a God who loves us so much He sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins. But if we don’t acknowledge our brokenness or the severity of our sins, if we shrug them off as no big deal or assume it’s all good because we are forgiven, we’re missing the point. We’re missing the point of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and we’re missing the blessing of feeling the weight of our sin lifted off of us.
If it’s been a while since confessing your sin caused you to mourn before you rejoiced over God’s grace, I invite you to join me in a posture of humble repentance this Lent season. Let’s spend the next few weeks reflecting on God’s goodness while also taking a hard look at ourselves. And when we see all the ways we fall short of the glory of God, let’s not sweep our grief or waywardness under the carpet. Let’s be honest about it and believe that we aren’t bearing the burden of them ourselves — God bore them for us on the cross. Let’s allow that reality to sink in.
Let us prepare for the wonder of the resurrection by remembering just how much we need it. Let us turn to the Lord with hearts truly broken over our transgressions, more grateful than ever for His abounding love and forgiveness.
God, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I’ve taken Your lavish grace for granted, overlooking and underestimating my sin. Please forgive me. Please bring to mind the things I need to confess and give me the courage to turn them over to You. Thank You, Lord, for loving me so much that You died for my every sin. Thank You for not being content to leave me in my mess, for remembering me even when I forget how much I need You. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.
Excerpt from Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter by Mary Carver.
It’s not too late to have a meaningful Lenten season. Let us send you a FREE sampler from our Lenten devotional, Journey to the Cross! Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter was written with women of all stages in mind so that we can all better experience the power and wonder of Easter with intentionality and depth. Also, join us daily in our Instagram stories for a brief passage, prayer, or Scripture from Journey to the Cross. We hope it will bless your Lenten season.
Thank God and thank you you for sharing, everyone needs this ! Everyday is a New Beginning, everyday I need EASTER Resurrection in my ❤ and Christmas and Pentecost
Kathy Francescon says
AMEN! AMEN! I cry bitter tears for my sins and all the time I wasted l walking in darkness. I cry for this broken world, I cry for all the sin and brokenness of God’s beautiful world. I cry for every anger, hate, bitterness, hurt, and confusion. I cry that the devil as a roaring lion has devoured so many. I cry at the disrespect and unbelief that is taking over peoples minds and heart. I wail, I cry, in sorrow and pain. I need to do more, to stand up and be a true warrior for our Father in Heaven. I cry because I will never be able to do enough to thank my God for choosing me to be blessed, loved, and allowing me the honor and privilege of belonging to Him! HE IS GOD AND THERE IS NO OTHER!
Thank you! I learned a hard lesson and the Lord exposed a place of healing in my heart. I sent out a request to my family expecting a response. I received none. I got offended. This has revealed an area of unforgiveness towards those who appear to reject me.
Sheree Fore says
Thank you for offering this to us.
Marilyn Kok says
Thank you for the offer of the free devotional.
Beth Williams says
Oh how easy it is to ask forgiveness in our quiet alone times & then move on. It is much harder when we must confess to others out loud. God wants true repentance-a turning away from the sin! The best way to do that is openly confide in friends who will love you as Jesus would.
This is my prayer for repentance. Making sure there isn’t any unconfessed sin or regret in my heart. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.I ask you first to cleanse my heart and show me if there is any unconfessed sin in my own life I thank you that through your name, I can come boldly before you and pray with confidence, according to your will and know that you hear me.
Sharon McRoy says
What a sweet and timely message, Mary. More and more I, too, find myself convicted of sin – usually the sin of judging others (too often the same sins of which I am guilty). He has humbled my heart considerably, brought me to tears and repentance over and over. Through it all, He is creating in me a new heart, filled with more mercy, grace and forgiveness for my “enemies” – all in answer to a contrite heart. Much of the change within has come from deep, painful soul-searching resulting in shame and abhorrence at my unloving spirit and unlovable attitudes of festering anger and pride. The more I delve into His Word, meditate on His love, His plan, and His love in action, the more He has changed this foolish woman.