“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 (NIV)
This month, I celebrate a big birthday. Like, a really big one. There’s something about these milestone years that inspires you to take inventory of your life.
For me, it starts with the obvious fact that I am getting older. I look in the mirror and notice a few more wrinkles and an extra gray hair … or two.
But there’s more: Did that kid just call me “ma’am”? What was the name of the person I just met? Why did my eye doctor use the word “bifocals” in our conversation? Everyone holds their phone out five feet away, right?
Despite falling into the “older and wiser” category, I realize that the wiser part is debatable. In the past, I didn’t always make the best choices, and unfortunately, I still don’t get things right. I still struggle with insecurities. I still catch myself comparing and complaining when I know I should just be content.
Looking back was enlightening, so I started also looking ahead to my future. I wrote down my goals and mapped out my path to get there … all with the realization that even the best-laid plans are not guaranteed.
Thankfully, Scripture provides much reassurance, including the book of Joel. While the prophetic message was directed to the children of Israel, we can see the heart of God for all of His people. God says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you” (Joel 2:25, NIV, emphasis added).
For many of us, this is a familiar passage of Scripture. We often focus on the beginning of the verse, but the last five words are also key: “… that I sent among you.” Israel was no stranger to hardships. But in this case, their challenges weren’t the result of big, bad Egypt or the giant Philistines.
This time, God was punishing them for their disobedience. To a society who depended on their crops for food and livelihood, the plague of locusts was certainly devastating. Israel had brought this on themselves.
Unfortunately, I can relate. I know all too well that some of my “locust” seasons weren’t caused by anyone but me. I was reaping the consequences of the seeds I had sown.
While God disciplined Israel for their repeated sins, this same God also favored them because of His great grace. As we keep reading the passage, God promises to give His people what they don’t deserve, too. They will have abundance. They will happily praise Him. They will never be put to shame. (Joel 2:26-27)
Just when you think you couldn’t ask for more, God declares, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28).
Logically, it seems dreaming is for the young, but that’s not how it is presented here. Joel 2:28 gives this birthday girl some hope. Even when the grays are sprouting and the eyes are squinting, I can still dream about what is to come. The God we serve is able to form our latter years into our greater years.
My trip down memory lane recounted some painful experiences. However, it also reminded me of this unchanging truth: God is faithful. He will fulfill every purpose He has for my life and yours.
Our past — restored.
Our present — satisfied.
And our future? Dream away.
Dear heavenly Father, I am so thankful my life is in Your hands. Thank You for every lesson I’ve learned along the way. I can walk in freedom from the mistakes of my past and move forward with hope for my future. Help me to bring You glory in it all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 139:5-6, “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (NIV)
How have you seen God redeem challenging experiences from your past? Commit to praying about the dreams you have for your future.
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