In his talk in October General Conference, Elder Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President, focused on the gift of repentance, and how it can be a way to a bright and hopeful winning life.
Here are five things to know about repentance:
1- Repentance brings happiness
Elder Owen said, most times people mistakenly pair misery with repentance instead of sin.
“Too often we think of repentance as something miserable and depressing,” Owen said. “But God’s plan is the plan of happiness, not the plan of misery! The joy of repentance is more than the joy of living a decent life. It’s the joy of forgiveness, of being clean again, and of drawing closer to God. Once you’ve experienced that joy, no lesser substitute will do.”
On this matter, at the October 2016 Conference Elder Dale G Renlund, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “When we ‘perceive afterwards’ and ‘turnaround’ with the Savior’s help, we can feel hope in His promises and the joy of forgiveness. Without the Redeemer, the inherent hope and joy evaporate, and repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification.”
2- Repentance requires persistence
Elder Owen told the story of the prodigal son. In this story, one son decides to take his inheritance from his father and leave. He then proceeds to lose it all and is left with nothing but shame. At one point, he “came to himself,” and decided to go back home.
“I’ve often wondered about the son’s long walk home,” Owen said. “Were there times when he hesitated and wondered, ‘How will I be received by my father?’ Perhaps he even took a few steps back toward the swine. But faith kept him moving, and faith kept his father watching and waiting patiently.”
The story continues with when the son was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
“For this, my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
3- Repentance is for everyone
“We often associate repentance with grievous sins that require ‘a mighty change,’” Owen said. “But repentance is for everyone – those who are wandering in ‘forbidden paths and are lost’ as well as those who ‘have gotten into (the) strait and narrow path’ and now need to ‘press forward.’ Repentance both put us on the right path and keeps us on the right path.”
He said repentance is for those who are starting to believe, those who have believed all along and those who need to believe again.
“Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners,” said Elder David A. Bednar, according to LDS.org. “I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints – for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and… striving to become better.”
4- Repentance is a lifelong pursuit
As Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve said in October of 2011, repentance requires a seriousness of purpose and a willingness to persevere, even through the pain.
“It is not enough just to gain a testimony; you have to maintain it and strengthen it,” Owen said. “As every missionary knows, if you stop pedaling a bicycle, it will fall, and if you stop feeding your testimony, it will weaken. This same principle applies to repentance – it is a lifelong pursuit, not a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
5- The time for repentance is now
“Satan tempts with procrastination throughout our days of probation,” said Elder Henry B. Eyring, of the First Presidency, in October of 1999. “Any choice to delay repentance gives him the chance to steal happiness from one of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father.”
Elder Owen said, now is the time for everyone – both young and old – to repent. He hearkens everyone to not procrastinate the day of repentance.