weird title, i know. i just had a few thoughts i wanted to post about and they have to do with Psalm 1, thankfulness for my fellow leadership team ladies @ church, and the book of Hosea.
first things first. this past week, our church women's ministry kicked off an amazing study of the Psalms. when i downloaded the Study Guide prepared by the dear women who serve alongside me, I was truly blown away. It was beautifully laid out, organized, so well written, Spirit filled, and just EXCITING! These very talented, godly women worked so hard to put this study together, and I was freshly humbled at the thought that I get to serve with them as they are much more gifted and capable than myself. Recently, someone posted on facebook something about humility is not about thinking less of yourself (because isn't that still focusing on yourself??) but rather, thinking more of Jesus and being in awe of Him. I want to be like that. as i have temporarily taken a backseat to leading for the sake of caring for our little one (due any day now! come on, baby!! we can't wait to meet you!), I am in awe of the Spirit working within our midst - raising up leaders, bringing forth good fruit, breaking hearts for His glory, rebuilding lives, revealing sin because He loves us and wants to beautify us as His precious daughters, mending relationships, cultivating sweet times of honest, open discussion, fellowship, making fun memories together, etc. I am truly in awe of HIM and HIS work in our lives - broken, messed up sinners as we are - but He sees us through His redeeming blood as whole, righteous, precious, loved, kept. We see through a glass dimly and only in part - He sees the final results and in that, I take comfort and joy. Thank you, Lord, that you are such a BIG GOD and you are actively at work in the lives of your precious saints throughout the world - be it in my precious childhood church back in Chesapeake, churches we attended in Pensacola & Corpus Christi during flight school days, or now in Pinellas County, FL. who knows? it may be a tiny church set against the rugged mountains of Kodiak Island, Alaska next! you never know! ah, life. what a beautiful adventure it can be when walking with Jesus!
on the topic of our Psalms study, we were instructed to read & meditate upon 10 Psalms per week. I began today with, of course, Psalm 1. As I read and re-read it, I felt like the Holy Spirit showed me a picture of a man or woman who starts out with great intentions but who is walking in their own strength, their flesh. They read the Word, attend church, and try to 'do' all the 'right things' but perhaps they are relying on their own resources and human resolve. from personal experience time and again(!!), this just doesn't work. no way, no how. Since temptation comes in such subtle forms, sometimes it's difficult to realize how far we've gone before it's too late. you see, at first we can walk toward that temptation into the trap of sin; then we stand and 'marinate' in it for awhile until we become desensitized to it; and finally, we sit in it - having given ourselves over in bondage to it, blinded by it. ouch.
let me show you what i'm referring to...
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. (v. 1)
when we listen to the world's advice or foolish talk, we are allowing ourselves to be informed by wrong counsel and we choose to walk in that direction. when we knowingly expose ourselves to sinful practices or people (meaning, unsaved influences we allow ourselves to be under) then we are standing in the way of sin - asking for it to come our way. finally, we can find ourselves steeped in that particular sin or sitting in it.
on the flip side, Jesus walked out a perfect life and sacrificial death in our place, He stood in the gap bridging man back unto God the Father through His blood, and finally He is now seated at the right hand of God since He proclaimed on our behalf, 'IT IS FINISHED!"
Thank you, Jesus!!! It's all about Him. again, taking our eyes off of ourselves and placing them increasingly upon His beautiful face. that's humility, that's true joy, that's genuine freedom.
Last thought for now is on the book of Hosea. Hosea was written by the prophet Hosea and basically recounts the very hard call God gave him to take an adulterous woman to be his wedded wife. It is a stark allegory of God's redeeming, unrelenting love for His people, Israel, (now includes us, His redeemed children) even in spite of their ugly prostitution to idols, repeated & stubborn rebellion, and gross lusts of the flesh. I've read this OT book a good number of times in my life and I have to admit, it had always been a bit obscure to me in the past. But last summer, I read a fictional novel based on this book called, Redeeming Love (blog post about it HERE) and it helped give me some clearer form & shape to this biblical account. Recently, I felt the Spirit leading me to re-read Hosea. As I was perusing its pages within my Bible yesterday under the sun's lulling rays (by the pool, no less! haha!), one verse pricked my heart like a little dagger. it was a good pain, but painful nonetheless. let me share the surrounding passage with you (the particular verse is italicized below):
"Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
In that day, declares the Lord, you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master'." Hosea 2:14-16
wow. how much easier it is for my heart to think of God as 'my master' rather than my husband. why is it that i can more easily stomach the idea of being a slave to a master, albeit a kind master, rather than a vulnerable, exposed wife to a loving, wooing husband who simply accepts me for who I am? in my personal battle of the fear of self-preservation, i find it easier to check things off a box, to be servile rather than passionate and open, to be obedient to a list of rules or do's and dont's rather than allowing myself to know and be fully known by my Bridegroom who loves me and just wants to spend time with me.
it's easier for the human heart to respect & fear rather than love and be loved in the truest sense. legalism is tidy. it's dead but it's 'neat' and at least respectable, right? (well, at least it seems that way). unabashed abandonment of emotions - the most raw and deep being 'Love' - is messy. it involves letting your guard down completely; unveiling one's most personal hurts, dreams, hopes, desires, and yes, ....our greatest fears.
this kind of love that our Redeemer God, our Husband, is calling His Bride to is raw, penetrating, transforming. it's risky. it involves putting everything on the table at the risk of being lost in something greater than yourself and your ideals or expectations.
CS Lewis put it well:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
...how do you see God? as your benevolent Master merely tolerating you because of Jesus...or as your beloved Husband who is truly in love with you and excited about your life?
How do you honestly think He sees you today?