Sometimes when reading the Bible a phrase will shoot from the page like an arrow and pierce my heart. In chapter two of the book of Joel the words “rend your hearts and not your garments” hit their mark. Joel, which means the Lord is God, wrote his warning in the ninth century B.C. during a time when locusts ate every green thing across the entire nation and a severe drought destroyed the rest.
The people must have been discouraged. “What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.” (Joel 1:4 ESV) Some days doesn’t your life feel similar? What the cutting economy left, the swarming tax department has eaten. What the swarming tax department left … (sorry, we’re dealing with some ridiculous tax issues - insert whatever’s going on in your life.) Joel’s lament crosses the barrier of time.
But Joel doesn’t leave us lamenting. In the middle of chapter two he says, “’Yet even now,” declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”
Am I willing to tear my heart before the Lord? Am I willing to be real before Him and call upon His mercy? Can I set aside the pretention of torn garments or outer repentance and trust the Lord enough to bare my very soul? I sure hope so. What could be better than abandoning myself to His infinite grace, mercy, and love?