i'm a gomer...


i think we all should have realized when a guy named hosea marries a woman named gomer that things were going to go downhill from there. or maybe it was this first couple of verses of hosea that really spelled out how this was going to shake out... i love that God really doesn't tiptoe around the tulips here with hosea... and it is especially hard hitting in the message version...

The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:

“Find a whore and marry her.

    Make this whore the mother of your children.

And here’s why: This whole country

   has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.”

Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim.

She got pregnant and gave him a son.

i was listening today to a sermon on the book of ecclesiastes by my bff matt chandler. well, the book of ecclesiastes is by king solomon. the sermon was by matt chandler. let's get that part straight. and he was in the 5th chapter of ecclesiastes when he had to go and start talking about being in the desert spiritually. 

well, that was exactly what i needed to hear. and by "exactly what i needed to hear" i mean that i listened to it 4 times and cried harder each time i listened. it is a story about the desert. about a woman in the desert. it almost made me question whether my name might mean "gomer" and it also reminded my heart that God takes people into the desert BECAUSE HE LOVES THEM.

Hosea was a normal man who God came to, and He said, “Listen, I want you to marry a hooker.” And Hosea said, “Did you say hooker? Or did you say ‘Read a booker?’ Alright, I lost it there.” And God goes, “No, I said prostitute. I want you to marry a woman of ill repute.

And here’s the thing, Hosea. She’s going to be horrible to you. She’s going to cheat on you over and over and over again. She’s going to betray you. And each time she does, I’m going to increase your love for her so that you can’t wash your hands of it and walk away. And you’re going grieve and you’re going to hurt and you’re going to sob and you’re going to wail, but I’m not going to let you walk away from her.”

And you know, the first thing that struck me, because all that’s in Hosea 1, is that God told Hosea up front. And I love that, because Job, he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. And then in the very last chapter of Job, God’s like, “Here’s what I was doing.”

I’m a Hosea kind of guy. Just tell me up front, “Look, the next five years are going to be bad, alright. Just brace yourself, because the next five are going to be rough, but then in the end, it will be good.” Yeah, at least he got told up front.

But here’s the thing He says to Hosea in chapter 2, and for me, this left an unbelievable mark on me that I haven’t been able to get away from. In fact, Hosea 2 is probably one of the verses that I quote to myself a bunch as I have continually tried to walk away from and get rid of what became kind of intellectual residue in my heart, and I’m not talking theology’s not important and big books aren’t important. I think that those things are important, but if they are at the expense of your heart and your soul, you’re in trouble. And in a lot of ways, I’m still trying to walk away from my theological education and sync back up in really deep ways with Jesus. And this is one of those verses, because that’s difficult. This is one of those texts that stirs me.

Here’s what He says to Hosea. He says, “Here’s what I’m going to do with Gomer, your cheating wife. I’m going to take her out to the desert, I’m going to allure her, and out in the desert, she’ll finally get tired of herself. And when she finally gets tired of herself...” You want to know the character of God? Listen to what’s next...

“...there I will speak tenderly to her.”

So, He doesn’t take her out into the desert and go, “Shame on you, woman of ill repute.” He doesn’t take her out into the desert to berate her for her sins or to pile on for her poor decisions, He says, “I’m going to take her out into the desert, and when she’s gasping for water, when she’s exhausted of herself, there I will speak tenderly to her and I will increase her vineyards.”

In the Old Testament, wine and joy are this parallel, they’re equal. Like, if you see wine mentioned, they’re talking about the increase in joy.

And He says, “I’ve got to take her out into the desert. I’ve got to take her out there, because the only way to kill certain things is to deprive it of water. And so, I’m going to walk her out into the desert, and I’m going to starve this thing out. And when she’s and almost dying, I’m going to speak tenderly to her, and I’m going to increase her joy.”

And then, look at me, because the next line to me was so heartbreaking and encouraging. He says...

“And out there, out where it’s dry, she’ll finally learn to quit calling me master and start calling me husband.”

And so, for some of you, please hear me, because I’ve been there. Please hear me. Tonight, your in a dry time not because God’s angry with you, but because He desperately loves you. That’s why. Right now, for some of you, the reason you can’t find Him is because He desperately wants you to really find Him. Are you tracking with that idea? Like, for some of you, He feels far so that you might as Acts 17 says, you might, “grope for Him although He is not far from any of us.”

So, maybe you’ve been allured out there. Maybe it’s not sin, maybe it’s not disobedience, maybe God just said, “Okay, I’ve got to kill some stuff in you. Let’s go.”

“Well, what stuff do You want to kill?”

“Well, I could explain it to you now, but you wouldn’t actually believe that it’s actually in your heart, because it’s really, really deep down. I mean, I’ve got to take the plow to you. Let’s get out of here. Let’s go to the desert.”

“Well, I don’t like the desert.”

“Well, I know you don’t, but let’s get out there. Because out there, I can really do a work in you, a work that will make you quit coming to church and quit doing Christiany stuff. Because you think in the end, I can kill you or that I wish you harm.

It’s out here, it’s out in the struggle, it’s out in the fight that you’re finally going to learn that I love you.”

                                       matt chandler "approaching the divine"

it is going to be in the desert that i finally learn that He loves me. and it is going to be in this desert that i learn to call Him "beloved" not "master." i am going to wrestle with Him until the break of day and i will not let Him go until i see His face. until He blesses me. it may wound me forever. but i will wrestle in this desert. because He is faithful and true.

p.s. here was the first thing i every heard from matt chandler. and i have been a huge fan of his ever since. i have listened to almost every sermon he has preached since 2006. his sermons make me love Jesus more. the end. 

move it or lose it...

if i don’t “move it” everyday, i will “lose it” and the “it” is my mind. and 12 steps of forward progress on the sanctification scale. hmmm, is there a sanctification scale? not stepping on to weigh myself on that on anytime soon...

or a regular scale either. just thought i would add that for clarity.

so let’s run right toward the second of the two things that i KNOW that i need, Lord help my UNKNOWING... 

i need to exercise (and eating well kind of falls into this category also). ugh. and ugh. and huge sigh of remorse inserted here...

it is a lesson that i THOUGHT i learned a few years ago. when i started running everyday and loved running. i kind of got obsessed with it. lost myself in the pursuit of skinnyness (hard to imagine if you look at me now). i wasn’t exercising for health’s sake. but for vanity. and i got lost in it. the pursuit. 

really lost. like a year of my life where i exercised 5 hours or more a day. ate less than 1000 calories a day and wrote down everything that went into my mouth kind of lost. where it is the ONE thing that matters most in your life. and it is how you judge whether you are good or bad by how many calories you won or lost that day.

but i am trying to remember what was good about those days, what was not obsession but just healthy. and it was the running part. i LOVED the running just for running’s sake. i know... crazy talk. and i still love it. i just love it at a slower pace. and mixed with some walking. not counting every calorie and measuring and freaking out if i am “over” for the day and panicking. that wasn’t healthy. but NOT exercising because i am afraid of going over into the dark side, isn’t healthy either. it is just another dark side.

i am a bit like the israelites in the old testament. one season OVER OBSESSIVE about the temple and how it looked and the next season FORGETTING TOTALLY about the temple and letting it fall into ruin. there is a middle place. a healthy place.

in my short term memory life of the oh so DAILY  i forget that i LOVE to run. that i NEED it. until i am actually running. 5 minutes before i run, i hate it. then a few steps into it... LOVE. and then the rest of the day as i am a more loving and gracious and joyful person because i have stretched my body and done what it needs to be healthy. 

but the next day, i forget it again. 

i forgot it for a few years. then a month ago, i started running again. i had been walking pretty faithfully for about 6 months. but one day i heard a song on my ipod that made me want to run. and so i ran. slow. but steady. and now i am up to about 3 miles a day.

when i remember that i love to run. but every day i seem to forget...

i think something akin to this happens...

luke 9:14
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, 
but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures,
 and they do not mature.

life’s worries, riches, and pleasures choke me. and make me forget what i KNOW. and i do not mature. i keep learning the same lessons again. insane. as einstein defined it...

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 
{albert einstein} 

i KNOW that i am a physical being. that i have physical limits given to me by God. unique ones. i must sleep and i must exercise and i must control what i eat. that is how He made me. and He made me that way for a reason. a Good reason. 

maybe i have to run because running is my favorite time to listen to sermons (i am in the middle of ephesians series with matt chandler right now, plus i listened to his current one on authority: government and institutions while i ran on tuesday to the church outside my neighborhood where i vote. it was a great one to listen to while going to vote.) somedays i am not in a sermony mood and just listen to music. mostly worship and praise music. with a couple of christina aquilera tunes thrown in for good measure. which might be the only times the words “worship and praise” and “christina aquilera” were ever used in back to back succession.

perhaps it is the only time that God can pry me away from my million and one things i must do or die list and focus completely on His voice. on learning more. on loving more. on living more fully.

yesterday during my run (maxx, my cross country boy call my running “run-ish” because i go so slow) i listened to the  song “i am running” by klaus (not santa) here are the lyrics... here is why i want to run...

“I hear the voice
It’s the voice of the One I love
He’s calling my name
I hear the voice
The voice of the One I love,
He’s calling my  name
He’s saying…
“Come up higher
I hear the angels sing
Come up higher, my beloved
Come up higher and leave this world behind
I find you to be beautiful.”
I am running, running after You
You’ve become my soul’s delight
I am running, running after You
Here with You I find my life.”

i feel beautiful when i run. not the world’s definition of beauty because God knows that is not how i must look when i run (and thank God there are no mirrors out where i run) but i feel beautiful by some other standard. some much more important standard. and not so fickle and finite.

Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure. 

lea marshall: i believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me slow. and when i run i feel His pleasure.

psalm 119: 32 
I run in the path of Your commands,
for You have broadened my understanding.

hebrews 12:1-2
... let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.

my prayer is that KNOWING that i have physical limits and that they are for my GOOD and that He has created me to NEED physical exercise every day will sink deep today... and tomorrow... and the day after that.

What matters is not the idea a man holds,
but the depth at which he holds it.
{ezra pound}