“Yet now, says the Lord, returned to Me with all your heart.” Joel 2:12
It was 2010. We were in Oberammergau, Germany to see the passion play. (A spectacular presentation of the love of God in Jesus.) It was evening and I was headed back to the “hostel” were most of our group was staying. I had spent some time with a couple from our group, just talking. When it was time to head back, I figured I knew the way since we had been walking the streets all day. But at night all the streets of Oberammergau look pretty much the same as they twist and turn. All of them are narrow and there are very few streetlights. Some intersections have three or five streets coming together and the map they gave was more caricature than a real representation of the town. Yes, I got lost. And all of the few people left on the streets spoke a language other than mine. I was all turned around and really lost!
After a few attempts to find my way to a street I recognized (none of those attempts were successful) I decided the only thing left to do was go back to where I had started. Turn around. Go back. Start over. That was the only way to eventually get home and find my rest.
“Return to Me,” says the Lord. It’s actually the only way we will be able to start over. Go back to move forward. Go back to the beginning, to the source of life. Go back to the only One who holds us in His heart. Go back to the One who knew us before our first breath.
“Return to the Lord, your God.” (Joel 2:13) Fasting may be one of the ways to do it. That is, to let your physical hunger become the reminder of the hunger of your spirit. Weeping may also accompany your “turning” as you realize how lost and turned around you’ve gotten yourself. But whatever discipline you choose, finally, it is the turning of the heart which discovers the truest nature of God.
“Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Joel 2:12 – 13)