"Rend not your garments, but your heart"
My Amazing Boy and I caught a bit of an old movie several evenings ago. I'm not even sure how old; the TV guide didn't say. And the move was Les Miserables, which means it has been remade so many times, there were too many options to choose from when I tried to look it up. All I know is, it was black and white. Old.
My family loves the story Les Miserables. When they were younger, my kids practically memorized the soundtrack to the musical, and last year, they got to see it on stage. Plus, my Awesome Girl is reading the book for school. Quite a lot of perseverance; that's a long book!
So my boy and I watched the movie for a little while, just enjoying comparing this version with the more modern versions (not including the newly released movie; none of us have seen that).
Watching old movies is not usually something my kids enjoy. There are a few exceptions, but black and white movies are generally verboten in our house. Well, I kid. If I want my kids to watch something that's black and white, they'll always sit down and watch it; they trust me that much. And if they're not trusting, at least they're obeying! But afterwards, they usually just shrug and say, "It was okay."
A lot of it has to do with the style of movies then and now. Older movies naturally don't have the action that my kids are used to from today's movies. But there's also a sense of.... I don't know, melodrama? The dialog can be campy, and the acting overdone. At least, compared to what my kids are used to.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not condemning all movies that have gone before Star Wars. There is sometimes a beautiful, sweet simplicity to the plots, and I do appreciate that some negative elements are left to the imagination, as opposed to today's sometimes-overdone special effects and violence.
And classic movies are classic for a reason. They deserve to be kept alive, and my children would be the first to tell you that I make them watch some of them!
But back to the idea of the sometimes overly dramatic movies of the past... And here's the Bible connection. This verse in Joel speaks of "rending one's garments". Sounds dramatic, doesn't it? Even the word "rend" sounds archaic. The concept of tearing one's clothes to demonstrate grieving or mourning is referenced dozens of times in the Old Testament.
So in a way, I could see how people could gloss over this verse in Joel. "Rend not your garments." My response is pretty much, "um, okay. I won't." More reading required though... Like, the rest of the verse.
And that's not to say that we aren't all sometimes overly dramatic. Or more likely, enjoying the opportunity of being the victim. When we hear someone's difficult tale, don't we all just love to top it with an even worse one of our own? (If you're not sure, just sit and listen to a group of women comparing their childbirth stories. I mean to tell ya, folks...)
But drama is outward; visible. Rending garments, weeping, even praying with fellow believers are all outward signs. They are showing to others the pain or sorrow that we are feeling. But sometimes the genuineness is lacking. Sometimes the performance takes over, and becomes "the thing".
What God wants is internal grieving; internal shame. He sees the heart, that no one else sees, and He wants to see change there: repentance, confession, and then forgiveness. He does not look at outward signs for evidence of repentance, but at the condition of the heart.
When I was a child, and one of us would get in trouble, and say "I'm sorry," my mom would sometimes respond: "Are you sorry you did it, or are you sorry you got caught?"
How are you sorry when you're sorry. And how sorry are you? Do a heart check.
~ "I rejoice, not that you were made sorry,
but that your sorrow led to repentance" ~
2 Corinthians 7:9