Rend your heart

Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence— Isaiah 64:1

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:12-13

Several years ago I heard a woman tell of a dream she had. In the dream there was a large group of believers who were worshipping God. And they were calling out to Him “Oh Lord, rend the heavens and come down!” And the reply came back from heaven “Rend your heart and not your garments.” And the people would cry “Rend the heavens and come down” and heaven would answer “Rend your heart and not your garments.”

The rending (or tearing) of garments was an expression of grief common in that day. It was an outward expression of the intense emotion of the heart. But just like many things, it frequently became nothing more than a ritual, void of any real anguish of heart.

We are very good at rending our garments. On any given Sunday morning, in the intensity of a moment of worship when we feel very moved by the music, we cry out to Him. We tell Him how much we need His Presence, how desperate we are for Him. And then five minutes later we are discussing what our restaurant options are for lunch. The garment has been rent….but the heart remains intact.

I absolutely love the joy that I have as a follower of Jesus. But at some point we are going to all have to admit that even in the midst of all of our smiles and laughter, we do not experience His presence like we know is possible. Maybe one day soon we will no longer be satisfied with just rending our garments, but we will let our hearts be truly rent before Him, no longer willing to pretend that the superficiality of our walk with God is abundantly satisfying. And maybe then He will rend the heavens and come down.

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