Rend your heart and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Joel 2:13 NIV
Some people have an extremely low tolerance for spicy food. Some people have a low tolerance for pain. I have a low tolerance for graphic violence. My heart and brain cant handle the pain associated with those images and they end up continuing to stress me out long after the movie ends. There should really be a warning on all films with graphic violence: Caution! If you are an overly empathetic individual, you will experience physical pain during this production.
So, the first time someone asked me to watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ about 5 years ago, I said no. Just reading the details of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion in the Bible makes my body weak. I didn’t think I could actually make it through the movie without having those tortured images burned into my brain, haunting me at night.
I realize that sounds ridiculous coming from me, but it’s the messy, honest truth. I really didn’t think I could bear SEEING the pain Jesus went through for me.
But as I read the book of Joel this week, that memory came flooding back to me… especially when I came upon this verse:
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13 NIV
Rend your heart. The google dictionary definition of rend is to tear (something) into two or more pieces. ie: “snapping teeth that would rend human flesh to shreds.” God asks me to be torn in pieces over him. My blissfully ignorant heart is merely lip service or ripped replaceable clothing. He wants me fully aware of the cost of my sin. He wants me to hand each shredded piece of my pained heart to him because he is gracious. He is compassionate. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. He died to keep ETERNAL calamity from me.
He wants to be the reason my heart is whole again. The prophet Joel was in my life this week to remind me that I don’t need to protect my heart from the horrors of life – that’s God’s job. I need to let my eyes flood in his presence. I need to let my heart break over the pain of my poor choices.
And I need to experience the peace that comes when he puts those shredded pieces back together.
Dear Lord, forgive me for wanting to look away as I think about your death on the cross. Forgive me for trying to keep my eyes from your pain. I’m so thankful that you used Joel to remind me that your pain is the healing kind, like salt that cleans a wound. Today, I look fully upon your torture in my place and I crumble in awe of your gift. My broken heart is yours. Amen.