"What we all desperately need to see is that the love of a holy God is manifested covenantally at the cross. In the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Father promises to receive contrite sinners on a daily - no, hourly - basis. The cross says, "No matter what your sins, unlimited mercy is available to those who turn to God through Jesus' merits." Thus, at Calvary we behold the infinite nearness and compassion of the infinitely majestic God. The Father, in the gift of His Son, has put Himself under eternal obligation to returning children. Having satisfied the demands of His own holy law, the Father must open His mighty arms and embrace every returning child." - John C. Miller, Repentance, p. 11-12.

As children of earthly fathers it is in our DNA to grow and want distance and autonomy. We feel the need to differentiate ourselves and move toward independence. This is right and good and developmentally appropriate. Even on the parenting end we want our children to grow into strong, capable, self-sufficient adults who do not need us. The trouble is when felt need to detach from our parents is projected onto our relationship with God and our desire for distance in our relationship with our aging children is assumed to somehow reflect God's heart to his children.

As children of a heavenly Father, it is always in our best interest to reside in his presence, and nurture deeper deependency. Our hearts impulsively imagine that He is disinclined to receive us in our moments of rebellion and recklessness. Our natural assumptions are to allow for some ambiguous time frame to pass until we feel God may receive us back. So we sit in our sin, we marinate in our guilt, we linger in our lostness long enough to feel some vague penance has been paid, and then we sheepishly approach the Father, tails tucked, heads hung, not really wanting to talk about anything but slink back into "the way things were."

But it's right at the height of our rebellion, and in the moments of our disobedience that the Father's embrace is waiting for us. We need not stay away for fear of the severity of his anger or the guilt of his disappointment. He is standing by with a heart open to you and inclined toward you. The scowl you wrongly conceive of is actually the smile you crave. With the empty hands of faith you have been clothed in the infinite perfections of Jesus, so the Father is not only eternally obligated to receive his returning children, he's eternally delighted to receive his returning children.

We instinctively delay repentance because of some misconception of a fearful and uncertain interaction with God where we are made to feel small and worthless. The biblical conception of repentance, however, is one of a glorious return and reconnection to the One whose response to us is faithful and certain. Repentance is not a drag. Repentance is a joy. He will receive us and embrace us... again and again. Every day. Every Hour. Every moment.

The cross beckons us to come home from wherever we have wandered. The cross also guarantees us of a warm reception every time we come home. And if we'll make that journey and enjoy His embrace often enough, we may just find ourselves more content to remain with him than to rebel against him. Repentance is not to be delayed and avoided as a scary and unpredictable endeavor. Repentance is the only activity humanity can undertake and be assured of a full and glad hearted approval and embrace.

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