by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: Joel 1:1-3:21; Psalm 16:1-11
READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Joel 2:12-13 12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 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.
The prophet Joel did not appear in any other books in the Bible. Yet, the message given to the people through this unknown prophet was consistent with that of Jeremiah, Isaiah and Amos. The message that Judah and Israel were asked to repent from their sinful ways if there were to be any form of salvation at all. Here, God Himself appealed to the people to return to Him because He is merciful and slow to anger. Despite the sins of the people, God is seen here as like a pleading father, crying out to his precious children to return home.
This lunar new year, the Lord brought to my attention of the many who are far away from home. Some are overseas and have no time to return home for a time of reunion. Some are estranged from their loved ones due to seemingly irreconcilable issues. Some are even barred from home due to certain things that have happened in the past. Some might even be estranged from their churches due to disappointments, bitterness or perhaps a decision made to turn away from God.
Whatever it is, I believe that for most families and the church, the desire is still for reunion and reconciliation. Sometimes, it is a matter of pride and all it takes is for one person to take the initiative and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes it takes much more than an initiative but with the grace of God, peace making can happen. Whatever it is, our God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is still pining for His children to come back to Him. He is still pining for brokenness to be restored in His grace. He is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. We can be assured that if we choose to return home to Him, He will be there waiting and rejoicing. If you are one who is reading this journal and your heart is far from the Lord in various ways, He like you to know just one thing: Repent and come home. Come home to the Father who is full of grace and truth.
Lord my God. I pray for those who are estranged from their loved ones and even the church that you will guide them to come home. Amen.