Return to the Lord with All Your Heart

“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. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? 

Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” 
Joel 2:12-17

Blow the trumpet in Zion!” Having grown up in a home where my father was a trumpeter, the sound of a trumpet conjures feelings of great majesty, beauty, and even alarm. When my siblings and I were teenagers, our sleeping habits began to stretch well into the noon hour on Saturdays. My father thought it clever to pull out his trumpet and play the bugle call “Reveille” to motivate us out of the bed! As jolting and unappreciated was the call to rise, I adore the one who issued the call. 

“Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail…” For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number” (Joel 1:5). Trumpets herald kings, armies, and warnings, yet they can sing a lyric and tender melody. Joel invokes all of these qualities in this terrifyingly majestic and endearing passage. The prophet gives dire warning to sound the alarm and tremble, for the day of the LORD is drawing near!” The terrors listed here, as God’s distracted and slumbering beloved collide with the holiness of Almighty God, give me the shivers; destruction, darkness, fire, gloom, devouring, desolation and no escape.

As I write, I feel the urgency and depth of appeal for us to be jolted into a great and united return! I hear a trumpet heralding a pending disaster and a serious call to fast and cry out; weep and wail. It is time, Church. It is time to return to the Lord our God with all of our hearts. Our nation and her destiny are under attack from within and without; yet we are a people divided against ourselves. We are poised to head into another bloody civil war, and do our hearts remain partial? Have we fasted, wept, and mourned together as the people of God in this nation? It is now time to hit our knees and our faces with broken and deeply repentant hearts before the Lord. We have a mandate to stand together in the gap and  plead with the Father for mercy for this land over which God has given us kingdom authority. Are we slumbering in the proverbial bed with our hearts cold and attached to lesser things? Hear the sound of the trumpet!  

Return to the LORD your God.” Marvel at this list of characteristics of your God! Here is the beautiful sonority of the trumpet call; let it sing over your startled soul. Joel reminds the people that their God is merciful, compassionate, slow to anger, filled with unfailing love, eager to relent and not punish, and replaces curses with blessings. How could we not return? What is more sacred than a “nursing infant” or the “bride and groom” moments before their wedding? Yet, God in His mercy interrupted them out of His love. What value is the nursing mother or the new marriage union without a land and its inhabitants?  

Would you and I hear the trumpet call now and rend our hearts, stand together in the gap and weep between the vestibule and the altar. Revelation 5:10 tells us “and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” What privilege, honor, and authority have been given to us as His priests! Appeal to the benevolent character of the LORD your God. Hear not only the alarm of the trumpet but the soothing sonor of His loving serenade. Let the 100,000 of us return together, invite your friends, that He might replace our coming curses with blessings!

Thank You Father for Your bugle call. It is Your lovingkindness that leads us to repentance. Call louder until we return to You, together, and with our whole hearts. We cry out to You for mercy. For why should they say among us, where is our God?

Karen S. Hetzler
Assistant Director, Christian Union New York

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