When I was a little girl, my daddy was a pastor at a small church, and I distinctly remember the Sunday afternoon he held a meeting with a newly engaged couple in the back bedroom of our small house. The hushed tone of my mama alerted me that this wasn’t going to go well for someone, and sure enough it didn’t as my daddy chose to speak God’s truth. He informed the young couple that because one of them wasn’t a Jesus follower he couldn’t perform their wedding ceremony. That brief encounter between a young couple unequally yoked and a man speaking what was God’s best shaped my days ahead, both in understanding and embracing the cost of speaking truth and in choosing the man I would one day wed.
Throughout the Old Testament account, we see how God asked His prophets to communicate similar uncomfortable messages to help hard-hearted, prideful people turn from their sin and live according to God’s plan. It was a hard job, and some like Jonah, tried to wiggle out of their assignments. But ultimately the call was for the good of both the prophet and the people, for in following the Lord they would experience the blessing of aligning themselves with Immanuel, God with us, who would come to reign, to suffer, and to ultimately be glorified.
Ponder: Who do you identify with in today’s readings? Are you the wandering sheep who needs to be turned back to the Shepherd’s best? If so, are you ready to return with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning as the Lord declares in our reading from Joel? Or are you the one who has been asked by God to speak His truth before others even if it’s uncomfortable and costly to do so?
Pray: Lord, You know my story. You know my heart. Thank you for being gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Soften my heart to repent of my sin, and give me courage to boldly declare Your truth.
— Jaime Sherman