Posts filed under Spiritual Journey

Go in Love: Thoughts on Hosea 3

Go In Love

I have a love hate relationship with the book of Hosea. Don’t get me wrong, when Redeeming Love came out during my high school days, I wept and devoured that book in one setting. But as my faith and life experiences have matured, the story strikes a different chord. And one of the things I dislike about Hosea is that I always get the story wrong… and I’m embarrassed to admit it happened again this past weekend at church. 

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” Hosea 3

As I heard pastor Bryan Loritts plead with us to “Go again in LOVE,” I'm ashamed to confess that my heart puffed up as I thought of all the ways I had LOVED big over the years. I went through my spiritual resume and accounts of friends forgiven, good deeds done, and love given and not returned. My heart swelled with pride as I checked off my spiritual list of accomplishments until I reread the passage mid-sermon. 

"The Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." Hosea 3

Wait… If I’m anyone in this story (which I'm not and in general it's a pretty bad practice to look for yourself in the story)... I sure as heck am not Hosea. It’s pretty obvious that the Lord is Hosea… and if He’s Hosea, I'm Gomer. 

You see my “cake of raisins” was believing that I’m more like Hosea than Gomer. My love of self pointed my eyes to the good that I have done rather than the best Good that was done for me. My biggest “other god” this weekend was making much of myself instead of making much of Him. And the thing I hate the most is that I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until Scripture smacked me in the face and reminded me that THESE stories in Scripture, the story I’m currently living out… NONE OF IT is about me. These stories, our daily stories, all of them point to a greater redemptive story. 

(Side note: Isn't He so good to "go in love" after me AGAIN by opening my eyes to MY sin, rather than letting me relish in my own self-praise?)

Our fuel for going again in love shouldn’t be based in keeping score or even being more like Hosea; rather the reality that we have a better Hosea, the Christ who came down and gave the ultimate sacrifice so all wrongs would one day be righted. THIS changes us so that we can love freely, without condition or self-pride. 

It’s the understanding that God has gone again in love for His people since the beginning of time that softens our hearts to see others like Christ does. And boy does Christ look at others differently than we do. 

When Christ saw the woman at the well, He didn’t care that it wasn’t “proper” for him to approach her. Because of LOVE, all He saw was a sheep in need of the Good Shepherd, a thirsty life in need of a loving well.  He didn’t care what the Pharisees said when He healed the sick on days of rest… because LOVE isn’t restricted to a work week or some self-imposed moral code. And while religious leaders built teams with the morally upright and popular, Jesus surrounded himself with fisherman, tax collectors, and prostitutes… because LOVE knows no societal bounds or labels. 

And while God the Father has every right to look on me and say, “She’s not worthy,” Jesus steps in and says, “I have loved her with an everlasting love and I’ve paid her debt with the fiercest LOVE the world has ever known.” And Abba Father smiles and sees a forgiven, redeemed child, just as He planned from the beginning of time. 

That is our story! And THIS is what pushes us to forsake theological loopholes and throw “wisdom” to the wind and choose to LOVE BIG, even at risk of being hurt again. There is no good in any of us apart from Christ, and when we read Hosea and push ourselves to “Go Again in Love,” let us also remember our role in this story. We are the hands and feet of LOVE, but only because we have been fiercely loved and gone after… time and time again.

If you have time, I highly recommend to listening to Pastor Loritts message on Hosea.  So so good. And ALL that I've written here is based off of musings from his sermon. 

Much Love,

Stones of Remembrance

Preface: This was a post I wrote for another website a few months ago and it originally was posted HERE. I have edited it and added to it for the purpose of this blog and wanted to share it with you today!

We humans are forgetful people. I used to think it was just me, maybe it’s my baby brain or maybe I just have bad genetics (at least that’s what I tell my husband when looking for my phone or keys for the 120th time that day), but as I read about the Israelites, I noticed how God would do huge miracles and then command his people to not forget. All through Deuteronomy He warned His people to take care, lest you forget (Deut. 4:9-12, 6:12, 8:11-20).

But the Israelites didn’t remember did they? 

When I read those big stories about God moving, I wonder how in the world the Israelites could forget His faithfulness! How could they forget how God brought them out of Egypt? How could they forget how His daily provision of manna or how He made the walls of Jericho fall at their cry? And yet over and over again the Israelites would turn away from YAWEH and did what was right in their own eyes. 

And while I’m side-eyeing the Israelites for their doubt, a twinge of recognition sets in.  

I’m not so unlike them, (and not because I can’t find my keys… ever).

If I’m honest, their story looks a lot like my own. I’ve seen God part the Red Sea in my own life. I’ve seen Him knock down walls, and restore places in my life that should still be broken. And yet I, too, am prone to forget that I serve a God who ordains every step, even the difficult ones. I grumble and complain, looking back to my own Egypt longing for better days. I forget that it was His hand that provided along the way and as my steps become easier, I stop relying on God and start doing things my way (again).  

But the great thing about our stories is that it’s not about us and our ability to remember; It’s about God’s unfailing love even when we’re prone to forget. 

In Joshua 4, God had just brought the Israelites across the Jordan River by parting the sea. When they safely arrived at the other side, He commanded them to take 12 stones from the sea and carry them amidst the people as a sign of remembrance so that when their children asked in years to come “What do these stones mean?” they could tell their story of redemption. And this is the part that I love! God wanted them to be able to remember and retell their story “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, [and] that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (vs.24).  

You see, our stories of redemption weren’t made to be kept hidden.

They aren’t one-time miracles that only service the present moment; rather they were designed to bless our present circumstance while impacting our future faith! God miraculously provided a way for the Israelites to cross over the Jordan River, but in that same moment He provided a way to remind them of who He was and what He intended to do in the future. He had them place stones of remembrance so that that in years to come their faith would be strengthened by remembering what God had brought them from and was bringing them to. He had them create a space to remember so that their future faith and their children's faith would be blessed by the discipline of retelling redemptive stories. 

And not only that, see verse 24?

...that the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is mighty...

Y'all, our stories are evangelistic! They are intended to be told over and over again to not only to keep us from forgetting but to declare to a broken world that the Lord is mighty to save. Our stories aren't about us. They point to a God who is mighty to save, a God who is in the business of fixing broken things, a God who loves us fiercely and remembers us even when we're prone to forget. 

That is our story.

And these stones are for us and for others. 

So my question for you today is this, Where in your life do you need to lay down a stone of remembrance to remind you of His faithfulness? What story of redemption in your life needs to be recalled and retold for your good and His glory?

That scar that you like to keep hidden? That old wound that you’re ashamed of? Share it. Share your battle wound and story of redemption. Lay that stone of remembrance down and when your friends or family ask about it say boldy, “Look at what the Lord has done for me!” For our boldness isn’t in what we’ve overcome, rather it’s in what He’s done and will do for us! 

Much love, 

Posted on June 22, 2016 and filed under Spiritual Journey, Story, Suffering.

Last One Standing

The boxes were packed, most of the house was clean, and it was the last photo hanging on the wall. 

It has always been a favorite of mine. It was taken right before our wedding, right after our first look. 

I remember it like it was yesterday. 

I stood outside those big sanctuary doors, knowing that Ben was waiting inside made me so nervous that I had to run into the bathroom to collect myself. I looked at myself in the mirror, grabbed some paper towels and dabbed my forehead & armpits all super star style (keepin’ it real folks). After giving myself a pep talk, I gathered myself and walked back towards the sanctuary. The doors were opened for my entrance and when I saw him, my stomach dropped. His back was facing me as I walked down the aisle, hands shakily gripping a huge bouquet of flowers. I tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned around and embraced me. I cried. This candid kiss was captured a few moments after he first laid eyes on me, his new bride. 

We LOVED so many of our wedding photos (shout out to our favs Braun Photography), but this one strikes a different chord. You see, we know what it feels like for us both to break different aspects of our vows, forgive each other, and still stay true to the promise of “til death do us part.”

Those young 25 year olds didn’t have a clue what was in store for their love story, but God knew. And I love that. It wasn’t easy and life wasn’t always fair, but regardless of the bumps and bruises we obtained along the way, we have learned to trust that He is good and all things are for our good and His glory.

This photo is such a good reminder of that.

It was always the first one I’d hang up whenever we moved into a new home. It was also the first one I took down during a hard season in our marriage. I couldn’t look at it; it felt like a cruel joke. So it went up in the attic for a few months. But eventually, by God's grace it found its way back to its rightful place on the wall. 

And a few years later, it was the last one standing. 

I love that.

I love that it wasn’t intentional. 

I love that when I walked into our bedroom to finish cleaning, that photo took my breath away. 

Last. One. Standing. 

Because when I walked down that aisle to Ben the first time, before all the pews were filled and the vows were said, my heart was already there. I was his bride. He was my groom. And together, we were promising to never leave nor forsake the other. Only death would determine who would be the last one standing

Years later, now that we fully understand what those vows mean our photo means so much more.

That photo is a picture of a covenant made between two sinners determined to keep their vows despite the sin that plagues this world and our hearts. It’s a picture of a promise that life is going to be hard, wounds will accrue, and hard seasons will come, but that young bride and groom are going to grow old doing their damnedest to forgive, hand out grace like it’s going out of style, and walk with each other through so many seasons of life. It’s a portrait of an imperfect love that is an earthly, broken picture of a PERFECT, eternal love that will never wound or fail. It is evidence that God loves to redeem broken stories for our good and His glory.

And so I snapped a picture of that photo on the wall and I wept, because God has sustained so much and at the end of it all, we know that He is the one who is truly the last one standing. 

I don’t know your story. I don’t know where God has moved big things for you and what all He has restored. I don’t know what areas of your life He’s said “No” in and left some prayers unanswered. I don’t know the hard parts of your story, but if you’re a believer, I do know your God. 

I know that...

...He is sustainer and provider.

..He is close to the brokenhearted and that His specialty is redeeming broken things.

...He is the perfect groom, and not in some creepy hyper-Christian romantic lingo, but in the most legitimate sense of the word. He has made a covenant with His people that can never be broken.

...His promises will never fail and His mercies are new every morning. 

...He is both the first and the last. He will forever be our Last. One. Standing. 

And when I saw that photo, the last one hanging on our wall, I was reminded of all that the Lord has done in our lives and I’m sharing because I know He can do it in yours too. Nothing is beyond His care or repair. May our story point you to that greater story, and our prayer is that through every season, you'll look to the Last One Standing to guide you through it all. 

Much love to you all,