It was bad. Evil queen, invading army, and locusts-laying-waste bad. It was “you’re gonna tell your kids and your grandkids about this” bad. It was so bad the prophet Joel literally told the town drunks to wake up and weep because “the wine is gone.” Bad.
They were grim, brimstone-and-fire days. Most wouldn’t survive.
But God (through Joel) adds, “Rend your heart and not your garments. Even now you can turn to God, because he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love...I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
What would it look like if we set aside the performance of our faith for the transformation of our hearts?
If you missed that, read it again. It’s a mind-blowing picture. A few thoughts, or reactions rather, for your consideration:
Rend your heart, not your garments.
You may know that tearing clothes was an ancient Jewish tradition, something that represented mourning, grief and loss. Here, Joel is pleading with the people: Tear your heart, not your clothes. Move beyond rote ritual, and embrace depth. Welcome pain as a path to goodness. What would it look like if we set aside the performance of our faith for the transformation of our hearts?
Love could be on the way.
God really wants to send love, but it depends on us. All of us. Not just the elders, and not just the scholars. Joel says bring everyone! It’s a community activity. I’m 100% certain we don’t know how to do this yet, but let’s figure it out! Our timing couldn’t be better.
Are we ready?
The love-word used in Joel to describe God’s disposition is chesed. It doesn’t have an English equivalent so this guy made up a combo word: “Loving-Kindness.” It attempts to package the steadfast, unfailing and dependable attitude of God towards his covenant people (more here). It’s the sort of love underpinning a reality where people prophesy, see visions and dream dreams!
A love so big our words literally can’t capture it. A love so big a Father gave his Son. A love that can’t be earned or equalled.
A love I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for, or can accept. But this year, as we celebrate the Advent of the biggest, deepest, most amazing love, I’m sure going to try.
Donny is husband to Myra and dad to their girls Addie and Clara. He’s been doing things on purpose since the 80’s, enjoys design, business, technology, politics and things that make him laugh out loud when it’s inappropriate.