Monday, February 21

Destruction with a promise of redemption

Yesterday I had a little surprise.

(My church has two services: 9am and 10:45am. If I'm not slated to teach Sunday school, then I normally go to the first service, as I did yesterday.)

I sat down in the sanctuary, ready to be there and to worship. But I never had the chance. A couple moments before the service started, a friend came up to me and asked if I was aware that I was supposed to teach Sunday school for the middle schoolers today.

Me: WHAT??? No!!! (I started laughing)
Okay, so what I am teaching on?

Friend: Joel and Obadiah (oh sure...piece of cake...I last studied these about umm....5 years ago or more!!!)

Me: (still laughing) Okay then...let's do this.

So I walked into the room full of expectant youth and told them I only just learned that I was supposed to teach so I have nothing planned. Therefore, we were going to dive into the books and learn together. Between the two books, there are only four chapters. So I broke the group into four groups and had each group tackle one chapter to determine what the message and main points are, if there are any key verses, and if there is any application to be seen!

(They did such a good job. And God did a good job of providing a lesson where there hadn't been one...reiterating that His word is living and active!)

Anyhow, one of the youth was explaining Joel 2 and she said that the theme of that chapter was "destruction with a promise of redemption." I loved that...could not have said it better myself!

The book of Joel opens with a picture:
What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten;
what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten;
what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten. Joel 1:4
A picture of barrenness. The vegetation of the land was stripped bare. No longer was there any sustenance. But then there is the promise:
I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; Joel 2:25-26
The land that was destined for deprivation, longing, and even death, now becomes a land for the living. A land of promise and life. A land full of abundant provision.

I love this imagery. I know there are times when I feel like I'm stripped bare...empty...nothing to offer. Whether it is emotional emptiness (too tired, no creativity, no community, stressed relationships, not worshipping God) or physical emptiness (loss of job or unsatisfied with job, not enough finances to meet needs, injuries/illnesses, car/house problems, overtaxed with commitments), it takes a toll. We wonder if we'll survive, if things will ever get easier/better, if this is all we're made for, and where is God is all this!?!

What Joel teaches us is that God has not forgotten His people!
Earlier in chapter 2, Joel reminds us of what God is like:
Gracious...even when we don't deserve it.
Compassionate...He knows our frustrations. He can be our oasis...our healing balm.
Slow to anger...goodness knows, when I'm tired and empty, I am usually quick to anger.
Abounding in love...not just a little but abounding, overflowing with love for you and me.
Quick to forgive...all I can say is thank goodness!

As we choose to trust Him and to worship Him, He fills us. This doesn't mean that our problems necessarily go away but there is support, encouragement, peace and wisdom where there once was not. Suddenly we open our eyes and find that life isn't so dry and barren around us but lush and full!

If you are in a time where it feels like there is nothing left to offer, I pray that God will repay you that time and you'll find yourself amazed with His restoration, as He promised. In the meanwhile, I pray that you will continue to trust in Him and spend time in worship. He has not forgotten you!


Kaye said...

Thanks for that timely reminder Mindy. I'm having a super 'dry' few weeks at the moment. I think I might go read Joel.
PS I love those "you're on Sunday School today" days. They make for some creative lessons...

Melanie said...

I love this! Great points! I'm glad I'm not the only one that forgets "sunday school fill-in" days ;)

Have a great day!

Mindy said...'s hard going through dry moments. I'll be praying that God touches your spirit in the days to come.

Melanie...thanks! I was so thankful that despite the very short-notice, God pulled together a lesson!