“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Joel 2:13).
When we hear the words, “Return to the Lord your God”, it is important that we hear these words as the call of God’s love. In love, God is calling out to us. In the call of his love, he’ s giving us every encouragement to return to him. He’s telling us that “he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
What will returning to the Lord mean for us? How will it change us? It will mean that our life will be shaped by God’s grace, compassionate, patience and love.
Will we always learn the lessons that the Lord is seeking to teach us? There will be times when we fail to hear what the Lord is saying to us, but this doesn’t mean that he will stop speaking to us.
He keeps on calling on us to return to him. This is challenging. It challenges us to think about our way of living. Alongside the challenge, there is, also, the encouragement that comes to us, when God tells us that “he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love .”
Returning to the Lord our God doesn’t mean that we change ourselves. It means that we are being changed by the love which reaches out to us.
What are we to say about this love which reaches out to us and changes us?
There are two thing we must say.
The first thing we must say is this – in love, God accepts us as we are. He forgives our sins.
There is, however, a second thing that we must say. God is not content for us to remain the way we were when we, first, returned to him. He wants to change us, to make us more like he is: “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
Again and again, we will let our Lord down. Again and again, he will lift us up. Our progress may be slow – but God will not give up on us!