In this last week I wrestled with what it means to call on the name of the Lord? According to the prophet Joel the salvation of God’s people (you and me) depend on this.
“..and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved “( Joel 2:32)
Apparently the “word of the Lord came to Joel (and we should)…“hear this…listen…wake up…blow the trumpets… ( 1:1-2,5, 2:1,15 )... for the day of the Lord is near (Joel 1:15, 2:1, 11, 31 and 3:14)”. Hear what? That the day of the Lord will be more dreadful (1:11), destructive (1: 11) , dark ( 2:1) and bleak (2:2) than we can ever imagine. WOW and YUCK! “Who can endure it? ” (2:11). We can if we call on the name of the Lord. Because, God’s heart is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (2:13).
But what does it mean to call on the Lord?
According to Joel God’s people are to “weep”(1:5, 2:12), “wail”(1:5, 13 ), “mourn”( 1:8,9, 13, 2:12), “grieve” (1:8, 11), despair (1:11) and cry out to the Lord (1:14). And in doing so hear God’s call to “return to me (the Lord) with all your heart” (2:13). And they (we) should drop everything in their busy lives to do this ( 2:15-17).
What does this look like for me?
Personally, I experienced a period where my life was dark and bleak, in ruin and laid to waste. I was lied to and mocked. God’s word, his name and his community was slandered. I was scarred deeply. And as I read about the locusts plague and drought, that God lead (1:11) the feeling of that time come back. Was God in my dark time? Yes, in one way, he acted prior to it, putting me in a place of safety. And he did not take away the suffering, he allowed it.
And what did God ask of me? To cry out to him and to return my heart to him. Return from idolising my husband, my perfect middle class life and my control. And surrender into the brokenness of my life calling out to God (weeping, mourning and despairing). And in that He opened my eyes to see His gracious heart more clearly.
The reality is that we all face brokenness. We know the statistic of poverty, domestic abuse, environmental destruction and the great injustice in the world and our backyards. How do we respond? What is the appropriate response before God?
But what of Joel chapter 3?
It talks of a God who restores the fortunes for those who call on the Lord, where everything will flourish again and of a God who will dwell with his people ( 3:1, 18- 21). In one way I live in that now through Christ, I know his presence through His Spirit now more than ever before. But I also know it is not finished as I still carry scars. I long for Christ to come again.
But what of those who lied, who mocked me and God’s community. Joel 3 talks of God’s judgement. Do I long for judgement? Do I cry, wail, mourn, despair and grieve the wickedness against God (3:2)? To be honest..NO! But why? How dare people mock God? Why do I hesitate to cry out for justice to reign down?
In truth, I know that my choices and my lack of acting and speaking out adds to the poverty, domestic abuse, environmental destruction and injustice. How does God ask me to respond to this? What is the appropriate response before God?
I am so thankful that our God is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (2:13), but instead chooses to dwell with his people (3:17-21).