Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

How Do I Repent? Part 7

By: John Bytheway

From the Book: What I Wish I’d Known in High School: The Second Semester

Recogition of the Savior

Of all the necessary steps to repentance, I testify that the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes because of the Redeemer. 8

As you grow older, you will find that you become more and more sensitive to the fact that sin separates you from God. And because of this, you’ll become more and more grateful for Jesus Christ, and for his power to rescue us, and help us, and cleanse us. I am comforted by the words of one of my most honored and respected heroes, Nephi. He was amazing to me. Someone once said, “The closer we get to God, the further away we’ll realize we really are,” and I think of that whenever I read Nephi’s lament:

O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

My God hath been my support. (2 Nephi 4:17-20)

There’s that last step. We must focus on Jesus, and when we do, our love for him will grow, because we will always remember him and what he has done for us to make us clean.

Wow, this has been a long one. Any more questions?

Sometimes when I read or hear stories about repentance, it sounds so hard. I want to know how willing God is to forgive us.

God does not want anyone to suffer. He wants us to repent. Jesus has already suffered for us if we repent. There are so many scriptures I could show you to answer this question, but none better than Luke 15, the story of the prodigal son. Read this carefully, and you’ll be able to see for yourself how willing Heavenly Father is to take us back from sin when we repent:

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Sorry to interrupt, but what does “riotous living” mean? Right. He was living a sinful life. Okay, keep going.

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Isn’t that a great phrase: “He came to himself”! In other words, he figured out how empty and hollow and wrong his life had been; he realized the happiness of righteousness and honor and loyalty and family. Okay, back to the story . . .

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Are you listening? “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” Remember that, okay?

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:11-24)

What does all this mean? To begin with, obviously the father in this story represents our Father in Heaven. Now, I have a question for you. You remember that the prodigal son’s father saw him when he was “yet a great way off.” So, where was his father? Was he in the house, doing something else, not caring about whether his child ever returned? No, no. His father was looking for him, searching the horizon, waiting, watching, and wondering, “Will he ever come back?” And one day, the son turned around and began the journey home. And as soon as his father saw him, he ran. He didn’t stay on the porch and wait for his son to walk all the way back, and he didn’t just walk out to meet him. He ran! Then, together, they walked home. Do you see what is being taught here?

How willing is our Father to forgive us? He is so willing that when we “arise, and come to our Father,” he will run out to help us come back. Is our repentance finished? Not at all. But once our Father in Heaven sees that we have turned around and are heading home, he will run out to be with us to help us through each of the steps of repentance. What love he must have for us, to run to us and bring us home!

Well, I hope we answered Nicole’s questions—and maybe some of yours, too. Just remember that repentance isn’t just some steps. Real repentance is hard. It hurts. As President Kimball once said, “If a person hasn’t suffered, he hasn’t repented. . . . The Savior can do almost anything in the world, but he can’t forgive somebody who hasn’t repented.” 9 Wow.

Did you just hear something outside? It sounds like the mail truck is here again. That’s unusual. Twice in one day? Oh, well, I guess it’s not any more unusual than you climbing through your book and going on a field trip with the author, huh? What a strange book this is. Well, let’s go get the mail.

Oh, look, it’s another letter from Nicole, and it was written several months after the first one. Maybe we were in some kind of time warp when we were writing. Go ahead and read it. What does she say? (Yes, this really is a second letter from the same young woman.)

Dear John:

. . . As I said before, I was having a lot of problems with my life. I loved the Lord but I was not happy. I had sinned and I felt like just asking for forgiveness was not enough. I had to do more. I got a lot of strength and help from my seminary teacher. He suggested I talk to my bishop. When I told him my feelings, he called my bishop and arranged an appointment. From there, there was no backing down. I wanted it bad enough that I wouldn’t back down either.

My bishop was very understanding. . . . Since then, my bishop has become a dear friend I can go to in times of need. I really did feel good afterwards. I believe now that he has the true healing power of God. . . .

Your sister in the gospel,


Isn’t that great? She followed through and now she is so much happier. It reminds me of a scripture: “Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repenteth” (JST, Luke 15:10).

I guess that’s a nice way to end Third Period. The older I get, the more I realize how much I really need the principle of repentance. I am grateful to President Spencer W. Kimball who wrote so much about repentance so that we could all understand. And most of all, I am grateful for the Savior, who suffered in Gethsemane and on Golgotha, and took all of our pains, sicknesses, transgressions, and sins upon himself, so that we could repent and change and be clean, and be able to “look up” to him again someday.

Well, I guess our field trip is over. See if you can figure out how to climb back through that book. Thanks for coming! And I’ll see you in Fourth Period.

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