"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."
When my school closed down I was crushed because I believed wholeheartedly that I was doing God's work. After all, I was addressing the woven fabric of education. All those little stitches that held fast the little souls we were touching. All those little squares that sometimes became frayed, or washed out with use causing them to become detached from the quilt were the ones I nurtured. I was giving them something the traditional brick and mortar facility couldn't - smaller classroom size and more one-on-one support.
And thrive they did! Test scores improved, self-esteem improved, and we were on the trek of offering something beautiful. Our classroom was not defined within the walls of inclusion. Rather, it branched out to the natural bounty that surrounded our environment and offered a sea of outdoor activities since we lived on the coast. Lesson plans were harvested in the morning and early afternoons so that the remainder of the day could set sail for indigenous labs and physical activities that renewed the senses.
Then out of nowhere the recession set in. Parents were at loss for tuition since jobs were closed, and students were transported to other schools were new work could be found. Then all of a sudden we were dumbfounded, at such a loss emotionally and physically, that no words can speak justice. Our doors closed.
Joel understands such a plight. The few short chapters from the prophet of Jerusalem speaks of three-pronged devastation. Wave after wave of locusts swarms - generations of them, young and old ate their way through the harvest fields. They moved so strongly that the locusts were compared to a mighty army, galloping along like cavalry with noise like chariots.
Joel called the people together solely for the purpose of seeking repentance. He said, "Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn" (Joel 1:13). "Declare a holy fast: call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord" (1:14)
But God wanted more than outward gestures that the people were turning to him. "'Even now, declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping'" (2:12) Joel told the people that God wanted torn hearts, hearts broken up and shredded by the thought that they would try to manage their lives without him.
I can't say that the close of the school was due to the result of God's judgement, like the swarms of locusts upon Jerusalem. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. That isn't what is important here as God only knows the hands who need tending. What matters is where was my heart through all this? Is my trust in God alone? Do I live in the awareness of my utter dependence upon him?
I can tell you when disaster struck, I joined with others in prayer and cried out as Joel did. Prayers were offered up for those who were suffering since I can not accurately call God's judgement. Prayers to rend up my heart as Joel did and sit tight waiting for the storm to pass. And God did keep me safe and secure through it all meeting all my needs.