Come Back

“Even with impending judgment, Joel encouraged that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” By CAPTAIN MEAGAN RUFF

I will be the first to admit that my view of God can sometimes get distorted. I’m easily distracted, forgetful and often running at a pace that’s unsustainable, and that steers me away from God’s truth and toward disordered thinking about how God sees me. 

My brain leans toward an image of God as an angry parent—upset with me that I can’t get it right and I can’t focus. Even when there is no real sin in my life, I begin to believe the lies of the enemy that I am not enough, never will be and God is angry with me. 

Maybe you’re like me, and for too long you’ve believed that God is angry. You fear returning to Him will only bring judgment and anger for the ways you’ve moved way in the past. But that is not our reality!

Throughout the Bible, we can learn that we can approach God confidently through His son, Jesus. Jesus’s death and resurrection covers our sin and our shame. When God looks at us, He sees His perfect son, Jesus. 

In this month’s passage, we see the prosperous and complacent people of Judah being addressed by the prophet Joel. His words from the Lord gave a grim warning to the people of the judgment that lay ahead, but also a plea to return to God now before that day comes. 

“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). 

Even with impending judgment, Joel encouraged that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. The people had taken God for granted, but Joel implored that they had no reason to believe God wouldn’t welcome them back with open arms.

It’s the same for us. We can approach the throne of God confidently, knowing that He will embrace us with love, compassion and grace. 

As we read through the book of Joel this month, let’s return to God. Whether we’re near or far, let’s make conscious and sincere decisions to orient our year toward God and away from the things of this world.

Illustration by  Bea Barros

Dig Deeper

Set some new goals for your relationship with God in this new year. Dedicate a time for prayer each day, commit to reading through a specific study or book of the Bible, or team up with a friend to pursue Jesus together. If you mess up, remember that God is gracious and you can pick back up again tomorrow! 


Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve taken Your love for me for granted. Accept my sincere repentance, and help me to walk in Your ways throughout this year. 

Inhale: I can always come home. Exhale: God is abounding in love for me.

Daily Readings

Week 1
  • January 1: Joel 1:1-2
  • January 2: Joel 1:3-4
  • January 3: Joel 1:5-6
  • January 4: Joel 1:7-8
  • January 5: Joel 1:9-10
  • January 6: Joel 1:11-12
Week 2
  • January 7: Joel 1:13-14
  • January 8: Joel 1:15-16
  • January 9: Joel 1:17-18
  • January 10: Joel 1:19-20
  • January 11: Joel 2:1-4
  • January 12: Joel 2:5-6
  • January 13: Joel 2:7-8
Week 3
  • January 14: Joel 2:9-11
  • January 15: Joel 2:12-13
  • January 16: Joel 2:14-15
  • January 17: Joel 2:16-17
  • January 18: Joel 2:18-21
  • January 19: Joel 2:22-23
  • January 20: Joel 2:24-25
Week 4
  • January 21: Joel 2:26-27
  • January 22: Joel 2:28-30
  • January 23: Joel 2:31-32
  • January 24: Joel 3:1-3
  • January 25: Joel 3:4-8
  • January 26: Joel 3:9-10
  • January 27: Joel 3:11-12
Week 5
  • January 28: Joel 3:13-14
  • January 29: Joel 3:15-16
  • January 30: Joel 3:17-18
  • January 31: Joel 3:19-21

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