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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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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A Relentless Surrender


I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of how the whole thing went unraveling; but I have this relative whose wife just picked up and left him. After all those years, after three babies (one of which is in Heaven), thousands of diapers, hundreds of forever promises, I’m sure millions of tears. Date nights and maybe a few late night fights? All that ugly… …And all that beautiful! She just up and walked.

In this instance blood isn’t thicker than water. That side of my family is Jehovah’s Witness. They weren’t at most of our family get-togethers and we weren’t close. She however, while time and life had moved us, had been a special childhood friend many moons ago. We talked boys and rode bikes together. Always to the South Park and always my relative who she was crushing hard on. Even then as an oblivious girl; I remember seeing a hollowness in her. In the Jehovah’s Witness cult, her family (who are also Jehovah’s Witness), and friends within the church… They can’t/wont/aren’t supposed to talk to her now that she’s left. How’s that for filling the hollow with hallow?!

Her hurt must have been deep to choose to leave knowing she’d lose everyone.

I was in the back yard of my parents house on Mothers Day weekend when I saw her getting stuff out of a storage unit with another guy. Her head fell low; as if she had reason and shame. Maybe she missed the memo that we are all a little bit broken and confused?

A few weeks later, I was in the grocery store, and sandwiched between the chips and bread we met again. Again, heads drop, but my heart fell harder. What little I know of her since those bike rides is this: She’s always chasing hard. Not after my relative nowadays, but after a piece that’ll fit the hollow spot that was big enough for an oblivious child to see. She’s chased hard after more hobbies and jobs then I could name. Now there is another man too. And aren’t we all just standing in front of the mirror looking for the reason we matter?

Whats a lost girl got when the only gospel ever taught to her is false?!

There I was, dropping my head like the awkward mess I am, because I listened to the father of lies tell me that living gospel to her would only be hurtful and awkward!

If I could roll back time I would have lived gospel. Then I’d tell her what I want to tell you…what I have to tell myself: When we live for God, He calls us to live brave! Seriously Brave! Lions den, fiery furnace, five stones and a giant kind of brave. Relentlessly surrendering to him.

Sometimes brave means its time for change. A change of location, of mind, of heart. Sometimes it takes more bravery to stay exactly where we are and battle though the discontentment, emptiness or uncertainty of here. Sometimes it means starting a blog and posting your bare naked heart.

We all have got a hollow spot. And we’ve all chased hard to fill it. Sometimes stretching the hollow bigger by trying to cram things in that aren’t THE thing that will fill it. Only the Hallowed one can fill our hollow places.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Psalm 16:11

Relentless surrendering to the path of life He shows us gives JOY and pleasures for evermore.