Lenten Reader | Day 1

Return to Me

“Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend 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.

- Joel 2:12-13
Something is wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with me physically, although as my 40th birthday quickly approaches, my body reminds me often that I’m not as young as I used to be. No, what’s wrong with me is that I have believed a lie. A lie that all of us believe at some point. And the lie is that I know better than God how to live the life he has gifted me. Rather than surrender to God, I take control. Rather than follow God, I try to take the lead.

And things suffer as a result. I hurt people that I love. I exhaust myself trying to gain the approval of others. I try to find significance in what I accomplish. I try to amass possessions rather than being generous with what I’ve been given. And I and everyone around me suffer as a result.

What suffers the most, however, is my relationship with God whom I am created to know. I’m home when I am with him. And yet I spend all my time running. And everything is amiss. And it is the very reason in the passage above that Joel implores the people of God to return to God with urgency.

Return with fasting and weeping and mourning, the prophet says. Tear open your heart. Joel is aware of just how badly we have managed to mess things up. But in the midst of this spiritual death – in the midst of coming to grips with how badly we can damage things – comes a glimmer of hope.

“Come home,” says the Father. Your patient and loving Father just wants you to come home.

- Andrew Day
Father, I have messed things up. I have lived my life my own way for too long. Help me surrender to you. Help me to come home to you.