“Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart….rend your heart, not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”Joel 2:12-13
“Please. Let’s stop. Let’s pause a while and allow ourselves to be reconciled to God.”
Each year during Lent the church body is called as a whole to gather, confess, fast, pray and return our hearts to the loving arms of our Father. I don’t know about you but for me, this needs to happen daily…not just annually.
By design we stray. Even with the best of intentions. One minute I am reading my daily devotion online. The next, coveting the beauty of an arm balance posted on Instagram by someone I may or may not know and moments later I find myself surfing the web for the perfect pair of Spring sandals.
Satan can just sit back, relax and watch as the world we live in constantly pulls me away from Jesus. Temptations abound. Rather it’s the latest fashion trend, health food craze, exercise regime….I am guilty. And in my narcissistic messiness I even justify the desires (obsessions) as self improvement….a necessary part of human growth right? That whole “be your best self” concept?
Umm, not so much. It only takes a moment to become enslaved to your idols. One thing leads to another, the sandals need a dress, the dress needs to fit or else be perfectly accessorized, maybe a new hairstyle would distract others from noticing that the dress is tight? Sound familiar? We can so easily find ourselves caught in the endless web of consumerism and self improvement that we don’t even remember what the daily devotional was about.
But here’s the thing. Even when we walk with our backs completely to the sun, we still feel it’s warmth. Our Father doesn’t abandon us for our frivolousness, He doesn’t punish us when we stray. Instead, He woos us, beckons us, calls out to us “Return to ME with all your heart.” And when we do, He embraces us and all of our mess.
Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing inherently wrong with dresses or shoes or Instagram. But when we turn our hearts and our time and our energy to whatever, we are inadvertently turning our hearts away from God. We are looking for fulfillment in the temporary and not the eternal. We will never find it and the harder we look, the further we stray. A lifetime can easily be lost in the downward spiral of dissatisfaction.
Or we can stop. Pause. For a moment. And turn our faces towards the Light, we can bask in the Glory of His warm embrace. He is calling us back to Him. Again and again.