As I played with my two-year-old grandson in the backyard, a noise caught his attention, and he turned toward the street.
“Get back here,” I called. “You are naughty and going immediately into time out for the rest of your life. Now, think about what you’ve done, and how you will fix it!”
Are you scandalized by my response? Understandable.
But how often do we think God responds to our choices and messes in this angry fashion?
Of course, I didn’t speak those soul-wounding words. I came alongside as he toddled in an unsafe direction. “Hey, buddy. Let’s go back where you’re safe.” He turned into my arms, I scooped him up, and in that instant, he was safe. I carried him to the protected yard where we laughed and played.
When my child explores beyond safe boundaries, makes unwise choices, and disobeys, I don’t demand she grovel, do penance, or humiliate herself to satisfy my displeasure. But I am overjoyed when she hears my voice and turns into my embrace. Then I carry her to safety.
Somehow, I believed asking God to forgive included groveling and muscling myself into alignment with God’s perfect will. I thought I had to prove authentic sorrow and sincere desire for forgiveness.
But forgiveness is something so free and inviting, I can’t wait to repent.
Like me, have you ever wandered, stomped off in anger, drifted away in heartbreak, and become lost from relationship with God? When I’ve made a mess of my choices, my life, my relationships, and with God, there is no way I can fix or polish my problems. I can’t find my way back on track to God.
Knowing I am incapable of securing salvation, God is near with arms open in invitation and welcome.
Like my grandson, who simply turned into my hug, I repent by turning into God’s embrace. In that instant, I am safe where I belong.
PeggySue Wells, history buff and island votary, is the best-selling author of 29 books including Chasing Sunrise and Homeless for the Holidays.