Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19 NIV
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In some Christian churches, we hold special services and receive the ashes. The ashes are an outward sign of penance and mortality. Over the next 40 days, Christians will spend time in self-examination, repentance, and prayer.
The idea behind repentance is not to make us feel bad about ourselves but to offer us freedom. Those secrets we carry around that plague our mental and physical, our very souls crave to be told. Jesus stands ready to listen and forgive. After all, we aren't confessing anything He doesn't already know and only punishing ourselves by keeping them "hidden." But when those secrets are out in the open, we are filled with an overwhelming sense of relief.
Merciful God, thank you for the refreshing that comes in repentance. Grant us the wisdom to recognize our sin and ask forgiveness through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.