Repenting from Religious Habit toward Heartfelt Relationship

Two weeks ago I wrote on Joel 2:11-13 and several attributes of God expressed in that passage. Last week, I continued those thoughts with a brief look at Hosea 6:6, looking further at God’s character. Today I would like to indict myself in regard to that second passage and use the first to do what I think I must. Funny how things work out.

But what do I even mean by this? Well, I have been very good at maintaining my sacrifices and burnt offerings lately. I’ve been getting to church, speaking about Christ with others, reading the word, praying, memorizing Scripture, and setting funds aside for our tithe. Congratulations, me….I’m religious.

But am I relational, as God desires? Is my love of God deepening?  Am I finding my satisfaction in him? Am I growing in relational adoration, or am I becoming stagnant?  Am I providing him the sacrifices and burnt offerings without pursuing steadfast love and the knowledge of God?

Well if I were, then I don’t believe I would be asking the question. I know I have not for several days. I have begun that age old practice of letting my intentional actions become institutional habits and thereby lose their meaning. How sobering is that? Here I am, two weeks in a row, writing about the depth of Scripture and its meaning and value, only to awaken one day and realize that my passion for the Lord has dimmed recently to mere patterns of behavior–accepting self-discipline rather than discipleship as an adequate form of following Christ.

Ergo, I return to Joel 2:11-13, and I think of the Lord’s commanding invitation, “‘Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Indeed. Even typing those words, I feel a rising in my heart–a longing to know that God.

But the question is how? When the usual actions that are intended to deepen the relationship have lost some of their power for whatever reason, what does one do? Perhaps this is a good time to consider the idea of “rending one’s heart” and how that manifests itself in daily life. Perhaps this is a good time for mourning sins. Perhaps its a good time to fast, to renew and better remember a spiritual hunger through the experience of earthly hunger. Good food for thought heading into a new week.

Thanks for reading,