As Kynzie (my granddaughter) and I approach the 29th verse on our quest to memorize one verse from each book of the Bible, we sense the momentum that has built along the way.
By now, we’ve clearly heard and understood, verse by verse by verse, God’s plan and God’s heart for his people.
He has continually assured them of his plans for their lives, his principles of discipline for their own good, and his passion for keeping them as his own.
In what feels like our final lap around the Old Testament, we are memorizing verses from books of prophecy. These words from God through his prophets to his people have all had the very same simple herald.
Worship me and me alone. If you stray, I will discipline you as a loving father would. When you return to me, I will bless you.
And now, the prophet Joel tells the people just how far God’s blessing will go.
Here are 5 reasons why I chose this verse as the one we would memorize from the book of Joel.
It’s a proclamation.
I want Kynzie to be just a little jolted, like I am, when the words on the pages of her Bible start with the pronoun “I.” That means God is saying something, and it’s going to be important. Listen up, granddaughter. You will be able to build your life on what God says when he starts with “I.” Here in Joel 2:25, God says, “I will repay.” No one else will deliver what God says He alone will repay. Might as well not look anywhere else – God is the great repay-er.
It’s a promise.
Right now, my granddaughter has lived very little of her life. She will understand more of God as she looks back than she will as she looks forward, but, at 4th grade, she doesn’t have all that much to look back on yet. Yet, God’s promises are for her future! I know what happens in her heart when a promise is unkept, because that same thing has happened in my own. But God’s promises are so different from the empty words of man. “I will repay …”
Only three of the 29 verses we’ve memorized so far are addressed to “you.” This verse is general (God speaking to the entire group of his people), but it also zeroes in on the individual. I love that. So much of our obedience is for the corporate good, but so much of our blessing is individually unique! I pray that Kynzie will hear this verse as God meant it – directly, appropriately, lovingly for her. “I will repay you …”
It’s full of perspective.
Oh, how I wish I could spare my granddaughter from future locust swarms, but I can’t. Not only that, I know from my own experience what she is yet to process from her own – sometimes there are no quick fixes. The dark days can turn into challenging years, but God promises to repay it all. He’s keeping count. He won’t forget. “I will repay you for the years …”
Locusts eat crops. Like down to the ground. Nothing left. Start completely over. Nowhere to turn. In life, like in the wheat field, some kind of something is always out to eat up your provision and mine. Maybe it’s an illness or a job loss or doing life without a spouse. Locusts have been swarming and devouring for years. Hang on, dear friend. Persevere, sweet granddaughter. God’s provision is his promise, and no matter how much gets eaten up, God always has more, and he will provide. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”
Twice, I have experienced a real plague of insects.
Once, grasshoppers by the millions swept through the neighborhood where we lived, just outside of town. I had never seen anything like it. They buzzed, they swarmed, they hopped, and they flew. Thousands died and dropped on the driveway. Over and over, we swept them into a dustpan and tossed them into the trash can.
The second time, big black moths by the bucketfuls invaded our garage, our barn, the porch, the patio. Anywhere they could hang, they hung. Wherever they could land, they sat. We put out bowls of liquid soap for them to fly into and then filled plastic garbage bags with their dead-and-gone sliminess.
Way more than twice, I’ve experienced a different kind of plague.
What began with a distant buzz on the horizon suddenly and unexpectedly became a full-blown infestation of one thing and then another.
Temptation. Trial. Testing.
Sometimes I needed help to get rid of the pestilence. Other times, I put my head in the sand, hoping for as little damage as possible, but not really wanting to look. A few times, the swarm just kept coming, and I feared there would be no ground left at all.
But God has repaid. Praise, God, what the locusts have eaten, the years the locusts have eaten, He has restored.
And if it’s not the last time? If yet again, I hear that faint familiar buzz in the distance, what then?
I’ll hunker down, wait it out, then throw out the reminders, knowing that when the locusts have moved on and out, God will have been keeping track of the damage. He will yet again repay.
Encouraging everyday intentional adventure, trusting God to restore whatever has been lost,
PS – Memorization tips:
With your grandchild, read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s recollections of a locust plague in On the Banks of Plum Creek and talk about it. Your grandchild can draw pictures of what it looks like in her mind’s eye. Have her write Joel 2:25 on the page of her drawing.
Read Joel 3:17-21 with your grandchild. Talk about God’s promises for the future and his mighty power to fulfill them. This is a good opportunity for your grandchild to speak the truth of God’s provision over his or her own life. As questions, like “Has anyone ever stolen something from you?” or “How can you be part of God’s plan to repay someone for something they’ve lost?”
Look at some YouTube videos together to reinforce the completeness of what the locusts ate – and how much God promised to repay his people. Here’s a video to get you started.