Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God. (Joel 2:12-13)
The word keeps coming back to me; rend. It means to tear in two, violently break apart. Why fasting, weeping and mourning? Rend. How to return to the Lord, your God? Rent. How to give the Lord your whole heart? Rend. How to break bad habits? Rend. How to pray and fast and give? Rend.
Somehow it seems the Lord wants us to tear and break in two our hearts, He asks us to rend our hearts and return to Him. The Lord wants me broken. God wants me and all my brokenness to come to Him and trust him to carefully make me whole again because it’s in the broken places, the rent spaces, that God’s love can come in.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. (Psalm 51)
My rent heart is my acknowledgement of my offense. For me this Lent, it’s where I put my own comfort before love and service to God and family and where I’ve become spiritually “flabby” and undisciplined. I yearn for God to create in me a clean heart, ready and able to be renewed. A rent heart that needs God’s rebuilding, and not my own. I yearn for the joy of God’s salvation in Jesus, the joy of Easter. I know Easter’s joy never leaves, but the act of yearning is a grace to help me to widen my capacity for joy when Sunday comes and my mouth proclaims the Lord’s praise.
So God, this Lent I bring you this rent and torn heart of mine. I bring you all the promises I cannot keep and the problems I cannot solve. I give you my weakness and my littleness. I bring them to the edge of the desert with your son, Jesus. We will together walk, talk and resist temptations. Together we will wander and question and resolve again. Give me a willing spirit, God, and return me to you and your rich mercy where I am whole again.