“Go take for yourself a wife of harlotry”…”for the land (Israel) has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.” ~Hosea 1:2
Please tell me I’m not the only one.
Nah, don’t bother. Because if you’re breathing I know you have the same problem I do. You are unfaithful. So am I.
My attention waivers.
My loyalties wear out.
I often like to do what I want more than I like to do what I ought.
I don’t keep my vows.
This morning while reading Hosea I see too much of myself and his Harlot bride. The Mirror of the Word reflects back to me a willful and undisciplined child, who hears the instruction of the Father yet thinks she can disobey with no consequences. Fool. There are always consequences.
But continue reading…
“And now, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to start all over again. I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her. I’ll give her bouquets of roses. I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She’ll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt. ~Hosea 2:14-15 MSG
Thank you, Father. Thank you that you are always calling me back to you, cleaning me up, and re-extending to me the promise of Hope contained in your love for me.
She slowly walks up to the front of the room, smiling as she moves past the familiar and unfamiliar faces monitoring her progress. She tries to steady her breathing. Everything rides on this, her entire future! As she turns, the room quiets and all eyes are on her. She silently prays her voice to calm, and then she begins to deliver the most important speech of her 18 year life.
I should know better, for I have been here -in this place- countless times before. Dreaming, pursuing, preparing, envisioning my success.
• The powerful delivery of a presentation or speech
• Hitting my weight loss goal
• Landing that promotion
• Winning back territory from the enemy
• Making the final payment on an old debt
• Arriving at a place of financial security
• Residence in ‘the land overflowing with milk and honey’
At the beginning of the process … the dreaming, pursuing and preparing part … enthusiasm is high. My imagination soars with visions of what life will be like when ______. And usually, if I really pause to examine my thought life, there is an undertone or underlying theme in my visions of victory and success: “Then I’ll be able to rest for a bit.”
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!” ― Jim Henson (The Labyrinth)
And yet time and time again, even though I know full well it’s not true – I continue to set myself up for the inevitable disappointment that will be when reality smacks me in the face and I’m reminded once again that there is always going to be another presentation, another goal, another challenge, … another mountain/valley/ocean to cross over!
Can anyone else relate?
Admittedly, I was in a bit of a funk the end of last year. There was a lot of change taking place in my day-job, and it was quite stressful. And so I did what I always do … or what eventually I always do. I took my battle-weary heart to the Lord, and received HOPE from Him that 2018 would be a year of favor and blessing. That’s why this particular blog series is entitled “2018: A Year For Hope” … because I knew He was instructing me to keep blogging, and I needed a reminder (and anchor) for the HOPE that He had given me in December.
“I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.” ~Psalm 32:8 (The Passion Translation)
In January I spread my wings and took flight on this series, I even began painting again. I had gained a little altitude in February. I soared for a little while in March, until I hit the turbulent winds of April. Some personal disappointments got the better of me and I lost altitude.
Sounds rather like a recurring theme for me, doesn’t it?
And as I’ve been making my way back to the starting place these last 2 weeks, I asked myself “What in the world makes you think life is going to be gumdrops and lollypops when ___ happens! You should know better!”
Sometimes I write my blog posts for you – to encourage you like we were friends sitting across from each other over coffee.
But most times, my write blog posts are for me – something I’m working through and/or need to be reminded of. Yup, I’m a HOPE-filled blogger in desperate need for another shot of HOPE!
And today, the encouragement I’m clinging to comes from the women’s event I attended at my church this past weekend. Through the story of Gideon, our lead Pastor’s wife and guest speaker shared a one-liner that really resonates with me. “God wants us to be Brave so that He can write our stories.”~Ginelle Payne
Oh yes, that’s right Lord. My story is still being written, by You!
And there is no finish line this side of heaven (because I have an enemy who is always sabotaging me by moving flags and markers, setting traps, etc), and so it is a waste of energy to pine for the day when I can ‘put my feet up and rest a bit’.
Instead, I need to keep coming back (hourly if necessary) to the starting place of Rest & Refreshment so that You can revive my Hope, give me Vision, build my Expectation, make me Fearless, increase my Boldness, with greater Persistence! And when fatigue comes, I would do well to return to the starting place A.S.A.P. rather than waiting for wobbly-ness to set in. (I tend to get into trouble by making poor decisions when I’m wobbly.)
Regarding that enemy – the one who is always sneaking around to steal the Word from me, kill my dreams, and utterly destroy God’s plan for my life? In the words of Jim Henson … let me loudly declare this!
“You have no power over me!”
I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside. Come back next week (ish) to watch the word-picture emerge.
Good morning friends! As you have probably noticed, I’ve not been keeping up with my Monday afternoon release date for the last several weeks. Monday-Friday I’m a small business owner (OK, it’s more like Monday-Saturday, since I’m self employed and wear all hats all the time) and my weekends have been slammed …. mostly in good and exciting ways … like playing with grandkids, and going on hikes, and lets not forget about groceries and laundry and paying bills. 🙂 All the every-day stuff of life that gets crammed into weekends.
This past weekend I attended a Captivate 2018, a women’s conference put on my church. It was actually at Captivate 2014 that the Lord spoke to me, leading me to quit my day job (without having another job lined up) and step out onto the deep waters of faith with Him. Before my two weeks notice was up, He had given me a dream and opened up the doors of opportunity for me to go into business for myself. I write more about that here.
Anyways – I’m now working on the post that was supposed to be published on Monday. And since this has already happened more than a few times, I’m going to move the release date for my blog posts from MONDAY afternoon to THURSDAY afternoon.
Whew! I feel much better now!
“So it is impossible for God to lie for we know that his promise and his vow will never change! And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time – an unshakable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, and where Jesus, our forerunner, has gone in before us. He is now and forever our royal Priest like Melchizedek.” ~Hebrews 6:18-20 (The Passion Translation)
I had a dream last night. It was so explicit that I felt, as I have at other times, the dream was given to me for a reason. Perhaps it is for you.
“Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.” ~Rick Warren
Everyone wears masks. Some masks are as simple as answering a no-nonsense “Fine” to the question of “How are you?” instead of giving the long and drawn out honest answer of discouragement and brokenheartedness. Some masks are more complex and worn as a means of self-protection. This was the case in my dream.
She touches up her curls and puts on her mascara. She smiles in the mirror for a final inspection. It will do, she is ready. So is he.
They walk in together, smiling across the foyer to welcoming faces while also being purposeful to stay just far away enough to avoid direct conversation with much of anyone. Too much familiarity puts them at risk of questions they don’t want to answer; and answers most people don’t really want to hear.
There are only a few, a very few, people at this church who know the truth about them. They had expected complete rejection, just like they had experienced at countless churches before this one. But to their surprise, they found understanding and acceptance from people who looked beyond their “differences” and who saw them. Seeking. Hurt. Hungry. And they were welcomed just as they were, just where they were in their journey of learning more about Jesus.
“We all have sin in our lives”, they were told. “My sin might look different than yours, but it doesn’t make it any better or yours any worse. We all fall short – which is exactly why Jesus went to the Cross. To pay the sin debt for all mankind once and for all. If Jesus can be patient with me in my state, who am I to judge you about yours.”
I think it grieves the heart of God when we rank some sins as being worse than others. And let’s face it, we have a very ugly habit of doing so – especially within the walls of the Church. It should not be.
Sadly, I’m old enough to have seen many “messy Christians” (those who didn’t look like or act like they were supposed to) being made to feel so unwelcomed in church that in short order they simply stopped coming altogether. And why? Because they wore jeans or shorts on a Sunday morning? Or they had blue hair? Or they were suspected as gay? Or her belly button showed? Or he had a mouth full of rotten teeth and his breath smelled?
The sin of stealing a few manila folders from the office supply cabinet ranks way below the sin of embezzlement – but both are thievery. Gluttony vs drug addiction. Venomous words vs physical abuse. Somehow, it all too often ends up that the sins that you and I struggle with fall to the lesser end of the ranking system (downgraded with words like “issues” or “struggles”) while someone else’s sins (that are not a temptation to us and therefore with whom we can’t relate) are ranked higher and are undoubtedly more offensive to God.
“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)
As I lay in my bed processing, I felt the Lord invite me to look intently at the woman and the man in my dream. From other details of the dream, I knew the secret they worked so hard to keep concealed from general knowledge.
But I didn’t feel like that was what God wanted me to see. He was asking me to look at each person individually. To see beyond their sin-struggle, and to see the person.
“Who are they?” He asked me.
We all wear masks. I get it. I wear them too.
But God sees each of us from behind the masks we wear. He knows us individually, completely, and His blood was shed just as much for the murderer as for the occasional pencil thief.
“Look closer,” He said. “Who are they?”
A son. A daughter. A creation.
His son. His daughter. His creation.
When I started blogging in 2014, I painted a word-picture for the post “WHO AM I”. I think it is fitting for this post as well, (Besides, I ruined my work in process and so I must now start it all over again) because this is at the heart of what I felt God was pointing me to see or observe about these two people in my dream. Their IDENTITY is not based on the type of sin they struggle with. Their IDENTITY is that of a son or daughter. And if they have reached the point of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, their IDENTITY is that of His son or His daughter.
When we accept Jesus as Savior, all our issues don’t magically go away overnight. We all know that! But we have so much more tolerance for some kinds of messiness than other kinds. But if the Father can be lovingly patient with me as I continue to work through my food-issues, and temper-issues, and jealousy-issues … can He not be equally as lovingly patient with someone else as they work through their issues – no matter what those issues are?
“Where is the HOPE for them?” He asked. “If not from you, then from who?”
I realize some might read this post and think I’m being “soft on sin”. I am not. I just don’t see it as my job assignment to be the measurer (is that even a word?) of which sin is worse than another. My Bible says that ALL have fallen short of God’s standards for holiness (Romans 3:23). I believe God is well able to do the work Himself of convicting and developing and maturing us individually, so that we can focus on the work of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who are lost and in need of a Savior.
“Beloved, when you correctly understand your identity in Christ, who you are – and what is yours (the power, the authority, the dignity, the calling) as children of the Living God – it will change the way you think about yourself. And that “right standing” will change the choices you make on a daily basis, and will ultimately change the course of your life, and the lives of your children and grandchildren.”
Pretty deep thoughts for a Monday, I know. If this touched your heart in some way, please leave a comment below. And for something a little lighter, follow the link to the first of a 2-series post entitled “Who Am I”. I hope it will encourage you.
I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside. Come back next week (ish) to watch the word-picture emerge.
We have been hit by sickness this week … my special needs granddaughter came down with Strep and it’s been an all-hands-on-deck kind of weekend. Praise God she is feeling better today, even perking up enough to eat a bit of dinner tonight. But it’s been a busy past couple of days and … well, I didn’t have the time (or desire) to break out my laptop until just now.
So we go to Plan B.
And Plan B is to share from another’s blog post that touched my heart and complements the theme of “2018: A Year For Hope”. So without further adieu, please allow me to introduce you to “Beauty Beyond Bones“.
I was taken aback by my own daughters eating disorder in her teens. Through a wonderfully terrible beautiful collision of heartbreaking circumstances, I overheard her mentioning to a doctor that she had been throwing up her food after meals. How was this happening? How did I not know?
“I know that God’s standards are spiritual, but I have a corrupt nature, sold as a slave to sin. I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 7:14-15 (GWT)
Maybe you’re the mom, brother, sister or friend of someone with an eating disorder.
Maybe you are the one wrestling with these demons.
Or maybe the issue isn’t food, it’s something else. Another inner suffering.
“But if there’s one thing that shows, it’s that “desert periods” will occur in life. We will go through the desert. We will feel alone. And forgotten. Maybe inadequate. Possibly despairing. But our suffering doesn’t negate the Father’s love, as hard as that is to believe. And when we find ourselves in the middle of that desert, it’s even harder to believe that one day, we will ever be whole, or useful, or thriving again.” ~Beauty Beyond Bones
My world turned sideways that night, in more ways than one. And thus began our (hers and mine) journey back to honesty, forgiveness, acceptance and finally healing. But it was a process. And that’s just from my side of the fence … I’ll probably never really know how difficult the journey was from her side … I’m just grateful that she made it through.