Repentance & Restoration
By Jenna Martin
I drug myself out of the unknown bed, gathered my belongings from their scattered mess around the ornate home, hung my head in shame and placed my worn body into the car for escape. My mind was numb, heart broken, soul shattered in pieces. I didn’t dare look at my phone knowing my husband would be worried and I simply couldn’t answer the questions.
I’ve never felt pain so deep. To know I deliberately made this choice. To know I brought the bottle as a means to escape. To know I defiled and disregarded a promise we had made to each other before God. I’d never been so blatantly faced with my sinfulness than on that hungover morning over a decade ago.
Over the following week, I pushed, avoided and begged for escape from myself. Each small decision had led to another. Now, evaded and undiscussed disappointment peaked like an unbearable mountain trek before us. How could I take it this far? How is this part of our story? How is it even possible to move beyond this point?
It was in those thoughts that I was guided to a man after God’s own heart, David (1 Samuel 13:14). In Psalm 51, he scripted a beautifully honest prayer of repentance after Nathan confronts David’s sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12).
I began to wrestle with the fact that my initial reaction over my transgression wasn’t true repentance but embarrassment, shame and avoidance. David faced heavy brokenness and sin, but was ushered into a place of restoration, favor and praise, things I knew I desired to have restored in my life as well.
Appeal to God’s Character
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” —Psalm 51:1
I learned the posture of our heart must begin with our eyes in the right direction, toward Him. Our humanness will lead us down the broad path of avoidance, reasoning as to why and works to appease guilt. In God’s character alone is the ability to find full peace-filled restoration. David cries out for the Lord’s steadfast love and abundant mercies. He knows the Truth of who God is and speaks them over his life. He prayer of repentance keeps God’s character in focus, a true refuge in our time of sorrow.
Acknowledge Sin Without Justification
“Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” —Psalm 51:1-3
After appealing to the character of God, David dives straight into the heart of the issue: his own sin and brokenness. He doesn’t lace his confession with excuses, and neither should we. By fully admitting the error of our ways, we are able to experience the fullness of forgiveness.
To think that we hold good reason for our wrongdoing is a sure sign that our heart is not in the proper position for true repentance. We must know that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:23-24). No matter how little or how life altering we feel our sin is, when we honestly and fully confess, there is hope and dependence in our Savior’s work on the cross.
Recognize the Work of Faith
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” —Psalm 51:6-7
Restoration is not an act of our own doing or something we can make happen by force. It is a work that happens at the feet of our loving Father alone. If faith is the complete trust or confidence in someone, we must walk forward in faith that His gentle arms hold us and carry us through every sludge filled trench of our journey toward restoration.
David’s cry was for a heart that yearns for the things of the Lord and isn’t swayed by the temptation of the world. A spirit that holds tight to wisdom. He begs for the cleansing work of God and has faith his request will be answered. He knows that as he clings to the Lord, the Lord is faithful to wipe the slate clean.
Our hearts should be fueled by faith and trust that the promises of God are true. On the days when my feet misstep and past shame tries to surface, I have to fight for faith in that very moment. Like the father in Mark who had the beginnings of faith, but knew he needed a Holy work to fill the gaps of unbelief, I petition, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Know God Desires Restoration
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” —Psalm 51:12-13
Restoration is an overarching theme we can see all throughout the Bible and it isn’t hidden from David’s prayer either. It’s a window in which the glory of the Lord is revealed to the world around us. What a gift that we are able to be a part of that.
David requests his joy be restored, he recognizes his daily need for God and walks forward in obedience by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He then expresses his desire to be an active participant in the restoration of others back to God.
Many times following this year of brokenness in my own life, I wrestled with ever sharing my story with others. With time and healing, it’s been revealed that restoration is a Holy Spirit work featuring the glory of God and that is so worth sharing! With true repentance and restoration we experience a partnering between Creator and created, in which we are able to tangibly carry out the work God has before us to participate in the building of His Kingdom.
True Repentance Leads to Praise
“Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” —Psalm 51:14-15
Once we acknowledge that restoration isn’t a work that abounds from our own strength, we are brought to our knees in praise that our loving Father would do such a miraculous work in and through us. David commits to boldly sing of the Lord’s ways and continually praise Him.
Ultimately, David shows us that God desires the full heart of every man, not detached ritual, but rather a broken and pliable spirit. A heart that admits its own weakness, grants any good in it as a work of the Father and praises Him through the daily act of worship. A heart that lives by faith that restoration is complete thanks to the abundant mercies of the incredible God we serve.
“Humble yourself in wonder that God should permit your name to stand on the roll of his elect at all. Admire the grace of God to you, and marvel at it in deep humiliation of spirit.” —Charles Spurgeon
True repentance of my own grievances has led me to waters full of restoration that I’m privileged to drink from daily because of Christ’s redeeming work alone. Recognizing my need for God and my inability to contrive any goodness from myself, doesn’t lead me to the shallows of shame, but to the mountains of celebration that our merciful God would love me so much that He would choose to walk beside me day in and day out. There alone my confidence is placed, my joy is restored, my faith is stretched and my praise is heard.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” —Psalm 51:10-12