I was 17 and far from God. It had been a whole year of running away from Him and skipping church youth group because I felt
guilty. Guilty because I had been holding on to feelings for a non-Christian boy when I knew I shouldn’t have. Guilty because I had chosen to distance myself from church friends instead of drawing closer to them. Guilty because I was no longer the “good” Christian girl who set an example for the younger ones. I felt like a disappointment to God.
Throughout the year, even though I had sensed God telling me to come back to Him and surrender my struggles to Him, I chose to ignore His voice and went the opposite way. It was a very dark period, and many times I cried myself to sleep, feeling terrible for keeping God out of my life. Even though it hurt to be far from God, I became comfortable in my loneliness and pain, and continued to do things my way.
But one night, I couldn’t run from God anymore. Because I was tired. So tired of running away. The tears kept coming as I confessed, “God, I’m sorry! I’m sorry for grieving You, for running from You for so long. I had refused to surrender my life to You. But I can’t do it anymore. I need You. Please forgive me. Will You be willing to take me back?”
That point of feeling utterly broken, with nothing much to offer God except a heart of repentance, echoes that of King David in Psalm 51:16–17, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise.”
At that time, Nathan the prophet had confronted David about his secret sin of sleeping with a married woman and plotting the murder of her husband so as to make her his own (2 Sam 11–12). Faced with the full implications of his crime (2 Sam 12:7–14), David poured out his brokenness in Psalm 51 as an act of confession, where he repented of his sin, asked for God’s mercy and forgiveness, and offered his “broken and contrite heart” as a sacrifice which meant much more than burnt animal offerings. David’s brokenness and repentance were what God desired for him. It wasn’t about justifying one’s actions or making it up to God by doing good things, but seeking forgiveness at God’s throne of grace so as to make peace with Him and to worship Him wholeheartedly again.
As I continued to pray and ask God to “take me back”, an image surfaced in my mind: it was a circle, with God standing at the tip of the circle with outstretched arms towards me. No matter where I tried to run in this circle, to the left or to the right, I would end up running back to God. It was then that I realised that all this while, even though I thought I had been running away from God, He had never let me go. He was patiently and lovingly waiting for me to return to Him. I was overcome with joy, realising that our faithful, merciful Father never forsakes His children. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and tears, a confession from the heart and a spirit of repentance. And He received it so readily, with a smile on His face, delighted that His prodigal daughter had now come home.