It is clear that we, as Christians, have, in many ways, ignored God’s Word. As a result, He is ignoring our children (Hosea 4:6). To see the reality of this condition, all we have to consider is the fact that:
- today’s Christians are the most biblically illiterate generation in many years.
- 65-80% of teens in the church today will walk away from the faith within two years of high school graduation.
The only hope for seeing our current condition change is what God said through the prophet Joel.
“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 (NKJV)
In these two verses, God tells us that we must turn and/or return to Him with our whole heart. If a person turns, it means that he/she has to change direction. The need to change direction implies that the person is going in the wrong direction. The direction of our lives must change — either by a turn or a complete u-turn.
When I am driving to an unknown destination, I use a GPS system. This technology is fantastic. All I have to do is enter my final destination and the GPS will map out the best route to take to get there.
Now I can get the route that I need to take and I can study the details of the route. I can see every turn that I have to make and the distances between each turn. I can start driving and hear the voice programmed into my system tell me to make a right turn in 500 feet. When I get to the turn, it will say, “turn right now.” I can even look in the direction I am supposed to turn and see where that road goes. However, I will never get to my destination by just studying the route or looking at the turn. I must turn the wheel of the vehicle and make it turn at the right place.
Sometimes we do the same thing with God’s directions. We can study all the directions that God is telling us we need to follow in Joel 2 in order to get to where God wants us to be. We can actually get to an area of our lives where God says turn now. But until we actually turn and change the direction of our lives, we will never get to the right destination.
These verses tell us that we must turn to God now. We can’t just know what the verses say; we must actually change direction. God also says that we must make the turn to Him with our whole hearts. God wants our entire life to change direction — not just one area of our lives. To change course requires a whole heart change. When we turn to God with our whole heart, it will impact everyone we influence.
I do a lot of travel by air. When I lived in Nashville, TN, I usually flew to my destination on Delta airlines. At the time, Delta had flights from Nashville to Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York City or Orlando. When the boarding of the plane was complete, a flight attendant always made an announcement that went something like this.
Welcome to flight number ___ to (one of the four cities Delta flew to). If (that city) is not your destination, please deplane now.
It was important that every passenger paid careful attention to that announcement. There were a couple of times that a person would realize that he/she was on the wrong plane. Once the boarding door was closed, the plane pushed away from the gate, and taxied down the runway to take off, everyone on the plane was going wherever that plane would go. If that plane was going to Atlanta, everyone on board had to go to Atlanta. When the pilot banked the plane to the left, all the passengers would go to the left. The entire plane went in the direction that the pilot took the plane.
So it is when you and I turn our whole heart to God. Every part of our lives will go with us. My life has a lot of passengers. I have family passengers. I also have work passengers. When I teach, I have student passengers. I have financial passengers, etc. If I turn to God with my whole heart, it means that I need to turn all of my passengers to God.
Western Christianity has become compartmentalized into the sacred and secular. Because of this dangerous condition, we find it hard to turn to God with our whole heart. We will turn to God with our Sunday heart. However, our work, finances, recreation, education etc. are considered secular aspects of our lives and we don’t see a need to change where we are going in those areas — especially if we think we are “successful” in these areas.
It is not enough just to turn part of my heart to God. He demands I turn my whole heart to Him. This is why this type of course correction will include fasting, prayer and mourning. It is hard and it is costly. It requires brokenness and complete surrender to God. But it is what must be done. There are some questions that I have been asking myself regarding what God expects of me if I want to turn to Him with my whole heart.
- Do I need to turn my personal, private life to Him? Does that mean more time with Him studying His Word and in prayer?
- Are there areas of my family life that I need to turn to Him? What are they and what will it take?
- Do I need to make a course correction with my finances? Have I been faithful in giving God His tithe — the first 10% of all my increase?
- Are there areas of my work that I need to turn to Him? (For you, this might include those you lead or teach)
- Do I need to make a course correction in how I educate my children? Is the education they are receiving turning them to or away from God?
There might be other areas such as relationships, church involvement etc. that God may be telling you must turn to Him. God wants us to turn to Him with our whole hearts. Could God be getting ready to close the boarding door? Is He making the final announcement?
If God is not your final destination, please deplane now!
Tomorrow I want to suggest some things that you and I can do to TURN NOW!