By Dean Smith
Ever felt so guilty after committing a certain sin, you can't even bring yourself to talk to God? Worried He'll smite you down the second you come into His presence? Maybe even before you get there? After a while, you finally confess and repent for this horrible sin, pitifully begging God to forgive. You then commence begging for the next couple of years, certain that if you say it enough and act pitiful enough, God will think you're worthy of His forgiveness and grant it.
News flash: this methodology is really not what Jesus had in mind when He was hanging on the cross. Don't believe me? Okay, you don't have to. I'd suggest, though, believing a story Jesus told.
In the book of Luke, we read a parable that Jesus gives about a father and two sons. The father in the story represents God and the two sons represent people like you and me (poor guys, right?). One day, the son disrespectfully asks for his inheritance from his still-alive father. He then takes that inheritance and blows it all with wild parties and prostitutes. He compounds that sin in many ways before finally realizing that he was better off when he was living with his father.
One day, while he's working for a pig farmer, yearning for the pig's food, he comes to his senses. He plans on repenting to his dad and then explaining to him that he's not worthy to be his son. He'll then officially request to return home--but just be treated as one of his dad's hired servants. So, off he heads toward home. (Go ahead, let the jaunty traveling music play in your head.)
 "So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him."
" His son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son."
 "But his father said to the servants, "Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet."
 "And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,"
 "For this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. So the party began." (Luke 15:20-24)
How often do you see yourself coming back to God and Him responding to you like this? Do you ever picture Jesus running toward you as you're slugging through the mud back to him? As you begin to beg, do you ever visualize God hugging and kissing you? See, as you're picturing a mean and resentful God with His back turned, Jesus wants you to see a Him as a loving, party-throwing Father, who couldn't be any happier that you have repented and come back home.
Keep in mind, Jesus knew you were going to sin. It's not like you sinned and He said, "Oops! Totally didn't see that one coming." There are so few people on this earth who model the total love and forgiveness of the Father, that we get it stuck in our head that God must be really mad and standoff-ish for at least a few weeks after we sin bad sins. The truth is that Jesus sacrificed His life for our sins, so that we could boldly receive His grace.
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJ)  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. When shame and guilt about your trespasses against God and others pushes you to the ground, it's His grace that picks you up. A different version of the bible says it like this.
The Message: So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. God is waiting for you to come get what He is so good at giving: Grace. He's like the dad in Jesus' story. Your pig sty-working self decides to repent and get back home. He's so excited to see you coming, He's not afraid to run wildly to you and give all the love He has with reckless abandon. Hugging and kissing you, He immediately throws a party to reflect His excitement about your return.
Luke 15:10  Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
The story of the prodigal son - Pig Sty Boy - simply reveals to us the Father's heart toward a truly repentant soul. Repentance involves turning from the wrong way, arising, and returning to the Father's house to ask for forgiveness. At that point, an intimate, face-to-face relationship with Him is offered. You are completely restored back to God as though you'd never left. No matter how many times you've messed up. No matter how bad your sin was. God is looking out for you right now.
Take a few minutes right now to visualize yourself walking back to the Father after the last memorable sin you committed. Picture Him running to you. Feel His arms wrapping around you and His lips kissing the top of your head. Picture yourself being inundated with the best robe, the family ring, and cozy sandals for your feet. Now, hear the music and see the lights of the party that God is throwing for you now that your back. See Jesus, loving and talking to you as though you had never left. Now, apply this image each and every time you find yourself repenting for your sin. God loves you.
Father, thank you that you love me so much. Thank you that you've made a way that I can keep coming back home to you with confidence that my relationship with you is completely restored. Right now, I repent of my sins (be specific here), and as I turn to you, thank you for receiving me with love, grace, and restoration. I receive your love. I receive your restoration. Help me to get a permanent new image of you for how you really are and how you really respond when I sincerely repent. I receive that new image and I thank you, in Jesus' name, Amen.