Day 15: Monday, January 22, 2024

Written by Pastor Emily

Take a moment to pause, be still, and prepare your heart and mind to receive God’s word. 

READ: Joel 2:12-14

Thirteen years ago, I was vacationing in San Clemente, CA, staying in a beach house for my brother’s college graduation. I have a faint memory of a dolphin sighting, of my brother receiving his diploma, riding a beach cruiser down to the beach, but I have a vivid memory of one specific thing: spilled beans. And not figuratively, literally, dried pinto beans all over the floor. My three year old nephew was playing with the dried beans and it was time to clean them up- rather,  for this three year old, it was time to dig his heels in. I have five siblings, and at the time none of the rest of us had kids yet, so everything revolved around the one, sweet, adorable, three year old. We all watched intently, as the first round of defiance turned into an hour of refusing to pick up the beans. We were all rooting for him to obey so he could go outside and play at the ocean, instead of staying inside and having a standoff with the beans. I think this memory is so vivid because there are times when there is still some three year old in me. When I refuse to make my mistake right, to repent. In these verses, Joel is explaining how and why to make things right. HOW to repent, “Don’t tear your clothing…but tear your hearts instead.” God does not want the show of repentance, He wants real change from us and for us. Then the WHY to repent- and this is key. The WHY is not rooted in fear of God’s wrath and judgment, but rather because God is “merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” God is more merciful than he is wrathful. I’ve heard it said that repentance does not become less frequent the longer we walk with Jesus, rather, more frequent, as the awareness of Jesus’ kindness increases. So, today, let us dig our heels in a little less, let us be a little quicker to “pick up the beans”, and be lead to repentance because we have a God who is kind and wants us to experience the ocean breeze sooner and longer than the dusty floor of dried beans.

REFLECT: Kindness can be difficult to grasp and accept, especially in view of failure. Is there an area you are withholding from God’s merciful, compassionate, patient, and loving forgiveness because of embarrassment, pride, or fear? Allow his kindness to draw you away from yourself and toward forgiveness and freedom. 

PRAY: Lord, thank you for your kindness that not only allows me to repent, but draws me to repentance. May my sadness for my sin not be a show but lead to genuine change. Change my mind about my sin and help me turn away from it and toward you. 

FAMILY MOMENT: Write down the words: merciful, compassionate, slow to anger, unfailing love and keep them visible somewhere in your home to remind you of God’s kindness.