My family inherited a little blue bike when Ethan was a preschooler. It had training wheels and was just his size. But he refused to ride it and it took me a while to figure out why.
It was rusty. The corrosion made the pedals too hard to push, the wheels too slow. I tried to make him use it, bribe him to ride. We’d go to a park together, him on his bike, and me walking by his side, but I’d end up carrying the bike home again.
If I had taken the time to clean the rust off the chain, add a little oil to the pedals, and shine up the spokes, he might have enjoyed learning to ride. But there was too much rust to even try. I never took the effort or time to do it, and the bike sat in storage for years.
Sin is like the rust on that bike. It slows down our spiritual progression, and can even stop it. Thankfully we have repentance, which provides a way for us to become clean, free from our sins, and be able to grow and develop spiritually again.
Repentance is such a beautiful gift, but may of us don’t understand how it works. Sometimes we believe we have to be perfect before Heavenly Father can forgive us. We have to do it all on our own before we can be cleansed by Christ’s atonement.
The same way I left the rust on the little blue bike, sometimes we let too many years go by, wasted in our own private struggles to atone for our mistakes. But all we have to do is ask our Savior to help us fix them. He wants nothing more than to help us polish up our souls and scrape the rust and dirt away!
One of my favorite talks is by BYU professor Stephen E. Robinson. He talks about when he was a bishop, people would say, "Bishop, I've sinned too horribly. I can't have the full blessings of the gospel because I did this, or I did that.” One man said, "Bishop, I'm just not celestial material." Brother Robinson had had enough, so he said back to him, "Why don't you admit your problem? You're not celestial material? Welcome to the club. None of us are! Why don't you just admit that you don't have faith in the ability of Christ to do what he says he can do?"
The man got angry. He had always believed in Christ. He said, "I have a testimony of Jesus. I believe in Christ."
I said, "Yes, you believe in Christ. You simply do not believe Christ, because he says even though you are not celestial material, he can make you celestial material."
President Spencer W. Kimball once said, “There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner.” We all need to let Christ help us scrape that rust off our souls. It's a lot of work, but everyone has to do it eventually.
Heavenly Father sent us to Earth and gave us bodies to help us learn and grow. That means we’ll make mistakes. But He has a plan for us to return to him because he loves us. He wants us to come home again. He gave us his Son, who will make up for what we lack. He'll help us scrape that rust off our bikes so we can be clean enough to return to our Heavenly Father someday.