And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Joel 2:13
That phrase “rend your hearts” is intense! It cuts right to the root of the matter which is found in the verse right before: “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning.”
Isn’t it interesting that it couples fasting with repentance here? I’ve always thought of fasting as a thing to do in order to remove distractions from my life so I can focus on God. But in this story, Israel went way off track from God’s plan for them, and He called them to fast, repent, and return to Him with their whole hearts.
Typically, when I repent, I just pray and move on. But this goes deeper than that. Fasting isn’t a requirement for forgiveness, but here we see it as an added element to repentance. Fasting deals with our selfish desires—all those selfish ambitions trying to draw us away from God’s heart. And isn’t it kind of the Father to assure them of the grace and compassion He will give them when they do?
Fasting isn’t a requirement for forgiveness, but here we see it as an added element to repentance.
All of this made me consider how I get off track of God’s best for me. When stress rules my day, or when I don’t find time to spend in prayer, or when I ignore that still, small voice of God in my spirit—these are the ways I get “off track.” And it’s in these areas, where fasting, coupled with repentance, is the perfect recipe to press into the heart of God. His beautiful heart of compassion abounds with lovingkindness for me!
Father, for any areas where I have trailed “off track” from Your best for my life, please show me so I can come back, close to Your heart. Thank You for Your heart of compassion for me, no matter how far I may have wandered. Your presence and Your voice mean more than anything to me. Amen.
What is my general attitude toward life?
Could I be “off track” from how God intended me to enjoy His presence?
Is there any area of my life that I have yet to surrender to God and give Him full control?
Love one Challenge
Step out of your comfort zone and surprise your One with something they love! Coffee? Dinner? Groceries?
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