[The inspiration for these reflections are adapted from PAUSES FOR LENT: 40 Words for 40 Days, Copyright © 2015 by Rev. Trevor Hudson by Upper Room Books Nashville. Both the selected Scripture and theme and initial paragraph in quotes are from Hudson.]
“Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful.” Joel 2:13
“Our lives continually drift away from their true home. We forget we are God’s beloved. We forget that we are not God. We succumb to the temptations of money, sex, and power. We ignore the cries of our sisters and brothers. We focus only on ourselves. During Lent, God calls us home. We remember who we truly are. We let God be God in our lives. We respond to our suffering neighbor. Put simply, we begin again with God.” (T. Hudson)
When I, Rusty, was a child, I would play outside with my friends for hours on end during the summer months. We lived on Berkley Street in Wichita Falls, Texas, for much of my childhood. The houses were from the 1930’s but well maintained and nice. The block was ”kid friendly” and we (my sister and friends) enjoyed every minute of it. We’d play games in Mrs. Grocer’s vacant lot or football in Porkchop Field on the other side of the street. We would enjoy excursions to the Bamboo Forest or walk to a movie at the Parker Square shopping mall.
But regardless of what I was doing and who I was doing it with, when it came to return home, my mother would stand out in the front yard and call (I.e. shout) my name. We had no cell phones. It was an audible call from my mom or even a whistle from my dad that would regrettably call me away from playing and home for supper.
Hudson in his introduction speaks about Lent as a time when God calls us home. He says that we ”continually drift away from home.” I assume he means our spiritual home. When we go our own way, commit sins or acts of disobedience, we are removing ourselves from our home in the Lord. If Lent is truly a time God uses to draw us home, then how do we hear his voice audibly calling us to come back?
Joel 2.13, the verse Hudson chose for today says, ”Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful.” To me, this speaks about the safety of returning home. God is a god who is gracious and merciful. He thus shows grace and mercy to his people. Just as I knew returning home each evening to my house on Berkley was a comforting and safe environment, so when I hear God’s voice calling me to return to him, I will do so with eagerness and enthusiasm.
Today’s theme is ”return.” My questions for you are these – From what place do you need to return? Where have you strayed? Why have you moved away from the Lord? When will you come home?
Returning to God is the best decision you can make. Trusting him takes only an inch of faith but produces miles of rewards.
“O Lord God, I do return to you, now in my heart. I cry out to you as my mother did for me when I was a child — I hear your voice, I respond to your silence, I settle in to your grace. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love. Help me prepare to return to you during this season of Lent. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen