God desires us to return to a relationship with Him/Her

Text: “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” 

Scripture: Joel 2.12-13

We read this on Ash Wednesday, but it is 30-degree with a freeze warning on this middle of May day so why not bring it back? This is read on Ash Wednesday during the church year as we seek to set aside time in Lent to withdraw from our usual speed of life to consider how to spiritually walk with Jesus. Quarantine, whether we wanted to or not, provided a mandatory Lent for everyone. 

This passage starts out that process by a desire that God names. Return to me. It is like a parent longing for their child to come home. Return to me, not for show, not for obligation but with your whole heart. For me over this quarantine, I have found myself returning to God. Sometimes begrudgingly, sometimes unpredictably, but nevertheless a slow and steady return. As I return to God I hear the echoes of this passage. Don’t return to me with a show, don’t post about it, don’t flaunt it, don’t put it on a stage. ‘Rend your hearts and not your clothing.’ 

In this space and time, there is an opportunity to return to God. Now is the time to pray, to think, to be rather than just to do. 

As I changed this morning from my sleeping sweatpants to my everyday-quarantine-work-outfit- sweatpants I thought of this verse. Rend my heart and not my clothing. It matters most how my heart desires to return to God. I am reminded today through the words of the prophet Joel that the desire is mutual. That, in and of itself, is a great comfort. 

Focus: God desires us to return to a relationship with Him/Her

Prayer: Thank you God for your desire to be in relationship with us. Help us as we seek to return to you with a genuine and honest heart, stripping away all that distracts and shows nice, and leading only with what is real. Amen. 

Author: Darcy Crain