Change what matters

Jeff Weinkauf

Joel 2:12-13
12“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Two things catch my attention in this passage. First is the phrase “even now”, which says to me that there is always an opportunity to change direction. I’ve heard it said from time to time “there’s just too much water under the bridge” meaning too much has happened to now undo or change direction. However God (declares) “Even now” after everything, there is room to change our direction and return to a compassionate father. Second is the phrase “rend your heart and not your garments”. Cultural context for the Jewish people was that a torn garment meant mourning or distress. It was an outward sign and was the beginning of a process of repentance. But God says here that cares more for renewal at our core. His desire is less for the ritual of repentance and more for real heart change. 
Real repentance, stirs the heart of our Father. No matter how far we’ve traveled down the road in the wrong direction, if we will stop and repent (change our mind), God receives us with compassion. While tears (and perhaps garment tearing) are part of that initial reconnection with God, what must follow is the work of heart change. Renewal is the necessary next step after repentance. 
God help us to remember and remind that we are never beyond your reach. Help me also to not stop just at repentance, but continue onto renewal. Amen 

Devotions for June 25

Joel 1,2,3
2 Timothy 1

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