This is an excerpt from our January-February 2018 newsletter:A Call to Repentance Joel 2:12-13
12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.
The world as Joel knew it was in drastic decay, it had been ravaged by locusts and drought. The people were exasperated. They were at their wits end. I fell like Joel sometimes and look at world, and darkness closes in as the task before us can be overwhelming to say the least. What do we do in these times when our world, God’s world is not as it should be?
Lent, for me at least, is the best time to analyze those thoughts. We are given the formula for that change in Joel. “Turn to me with all your heart.” I believe it should read “Turn to me with ALL your heart.” What is in our hearts is not all good, our hearts harbor our hopes and dreams, our highs and lows and the deepest of hurts and disappointments. God desires it ALL. To give it all we have to God we have to get rid of the roadblocks.
The roadblocks are removed through designated time for God and God’s healing touch. The next section of the formula is fasting, weeping and mourning. Sounds like an odd way to bring wellness doesn’t it? I look at it like luggage for a trip. If you are going to Alaska, you pack nice warm clothes. If in time you go to the Caribbean and you never unpacked from your last rip you have no room for what is needed to travel.
In this Lenten season can we unpack the unnecessary and fill up our luggage with the proper items for a fulfilling life’s journey with God? There is much in this life we were not meant to carry beyond the cross. Christ carried much of it for us, yet we still pick it back up. Can we trust in the gracious, merciful God? Can we release and refuel to be a better version of ourselves and move toward who God designed us to be?
Whatever Lenten practices you decide to take on this year, I pray that we, as individuals and as a church, come whole-heartedly before our God who is waiting with open arms to forgive and be an active participant in our lives. This Lenten season reflect on the greatest gift ever given, the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.