Love Is


I noticed this morning that I will be finishing the book of Daniel on Friday and starting Hosea on Saturday. Song of Solomon is known as the love book, but if you ask me Hosea deserves just as much credit. To say I am excited to start Hosea on Valentine’s Day would be an understatement.

Like most girls I’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day, but I’ve noticed in the last few years it has grown considerably less exciting and important to me. I still buy cards and candies to show those I love that I do love them, but honestly it all seems superficial to me. I thought it was because growing older has taught me that loving well the other 364 days is more important than buying into the hype of one day. That is true, but this year I have changed my mind about Valentine’s  Day.

For the last 5 years or so we have busied ourselves each year with our youth group and hosting a Valentine’s  banquet for the adults at our church. I often think and plan ideas for my own loved ones early then it flees my mind and I’m grabbing last-minute gifts, and few to none of my plans materialize. Since becoming parents, we have a traditional seafood dinner at home where we exchange gifts with each other and the children. It’s quaint but lovely.

Not this year though. Maybe it’s because we aren’t busy hosting a banquet at church, but I have been thinking a lot more and a lot deeper about Valentine’s Day.

The story of Hosea is the true definition of love. Humans define love as an intense feeling of deep affection. 1John 4:8 defines love as God Himself. If God is love, and He is; then we should look to Him for how to love. Hosea is the example of how God loves.

God told the prophet Hosea to marry and love a Harlot. He married Gomer and it wasn’t too long after what we will call the honeymoon phase; that Gomer was being adulterous. Hosea pleaded with her (2:2). Hosea threatened to leave her with nothing (2:3). But Gomer continued to seek other partners and sin (2:5). Hosea lovingly took her back, but her faithfulness was short-lived and she would be in adulterous relationships again. Gomer finally officially leaves Hosea.

This is horrible! Why would you want use this story for Valentine’s Day? Why would God ask Hosea to do this you ask. Hosea was our relatable symbolic example of the depth of love and loyalty God has for us.

Hosea ends up having to buy back his wife for 15 pieces of silver and some barley (if the sin itself wasn’t humiliating that would be). This all has me thinking; if Christmas is the when and Easter is the how then Valentine’s is the why. Love is not an intense feeling of affection. Love is sacrifice. Love is keeping your promises when they break theirs. Love is when nothing makes sense. Love is when it isn’t wanted or deserved. Love is God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1John 4:8

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Guilt By Association


I thought she was a righteous woman. Never mind that I ignored the prompting of the spirit and the pleading of my bored child to hightail it outa there. How could anyone say these things let alone someone I felt an understudy to. I knew what was being said wasn’t kind and I had hoped to sway her to love and compassion. I never intended to get caught up in the heinous crime. I wasn’t even aware that I was guilty by association until I was told to , “not talk so loud!” And if it ain’t about you, and it ain’t about me, and nobody’s having a surprise party… It’s gossip. CRUD! The slippery ugly sin of gossip. BUT— I was trying to speak kind words in her defense. BUT— I myself did NOT say ANYTHING ugly. BUT— I still feel like I did, and I still stayed when God said go. I still laughed at the ugly to fit in. If gossip is murder and the Bible says it is; then I was guilty by association. My heart hurts; partly because she pointed out the singularly most painfully discomfited part of me–my voice. The other part–I’m smack dab in the middle of gossip. The ugly murderous kind that’s in the Bible. I held the tears back until I got to the car, and even then made it a good way home before Josh ask me what was wrong and I outed the whole ugly story between sobs. Particularly broken by how this woman I had admired so much had not just disappointed me but had embarrassed me in an area I had been vulnerable in confiding to her about. The next morning I cracked my Bible. My eyes moved across the words but that was the extent of it. Desperate for peace I took my Bible to the bath (When I am sad I clean; the house, my body. It doesn’t matter I clean it.). I knew Ezekiel was a bust that morning. I needed lighter reading. So it was David. You know how David loved Saul even though Saul hurt him and even attempted to kill him over and over and over? Why on earth would he do that? I mean Saul’s a nut, a bad egg, a hot head. David, you know he can’t be trusted?! All I know is David kept saying Saul was chosen and anointed King by God and that was enough for him. So I pick up my book, and wouldn’t you know Max Lucado cleared it up. Max told of how he had left his dog at a kennel and another dog had managed to get in with his dog nearly killing her. Max wrote a letter to the other dog’s owner suggesting the violent dog be put down. Max took the letter to the kennel and the owner of the kennel said, “I ask you to reconsider. What that dog did was unthinkable, but I’m training him and I’m not done with him yet.” Max explained that sometimes people do unthinkable things, but God isn’t done with them yet. Is Gods forgiveness only big enough to cover my part in the crime? Does this mean this woman is not the righteous, anointed, mentor-worthy woman she was a week ago? David was hurt, scared, lonely: BUT— He knew that Saul was still special, chosen, anointed. I was embarrassed, ashamed, disappointed: BUT— I know God’s no more done with her than HE is with me. guilt by association

You’ve Just Got to Look


I heard her say she can’t even look at them because it makes her uncomfortable. I nod, because I get it. “Don’t look and it won’t hurt.” They’ve been feeding us that line since we were knee high in line for vaccinations.

All this came just a few days after I asked Josh why it all hurt so much. How can I be in ministry if I’m the one falling apart?  And how do you stop dying right along with them? How do you stop letting their cancer eat you up too? Why is it so hard to move on after a friend moves past you? I know I can’t be the only one asking these questions. Maybe you aren’t right now but you have or will.

I was reading an old post by Ann Voskamp. She said, “Turns out—those who bear the weight of suffering will bear the weight of glory.”

Who dreams their life will fall apart in Rib Crib? I don’t know what boulder was crushing her. I have no idea what the man sitting across from her saying he didn’t mean to hurt her had done, but you can bet there is ALWAYS a consequence for sin and it’s usually others that take the brunt of that blow.

I tried not to look. Honest I did. I stared down at my magazine. No matter where my eyes were, my mind and heart were on her. “Don’t look and it won’t hurt.” That wasn’t working for anyone that day.

Eve, Did all this flash through your mind as you were chewing on death? The consequences we’d bleed from?

I have no idea what was suffocating that poor woman gasping for air between quivers muffled by her tissue. I am sure of the answer though. He makes the blind to see. And yes, we were all blind. That was the cost of that produce Eve. Blindness. The answer is the only one who ever gave sight.

Seeing hurts. It’s Uncomfortable. It’s human nature to turn away from the gruesome. We cringe at the hard; the ugly. We pull the cover over our heads at the scary. You feel plumb helpless when you can’t lift the crushing boulders of cancer, death, broken hearts… Sure we’ve all tried only to land the weight of it all square on our own shoulders.

Josh speaks it from the pulpit. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35 The epiphany hits. When you are one of His they will know you by the way you love and you can’t stop breaking for the whole wide world. Eyesight was just the bonus gift to the real gift of salvation. If you have Jesus you just can’t help but see. You’ve just got to look! It is the only way we can know how to meet their needs; the only way to know how to love them well. It’s the way we can stoop down beside them to help carry the weight of it to Jesus.

Yeah Ann, it finally clicked. “It turns out that the ones who can bear the weight of suffering will bear the weight of glory.”

 

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