For Stacey


I once heard – and for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you who said it –

that the truest gift is to be with that one person, who looks into your face – so full of wrinkles and “should have done’s” – and still sees the “YOU” that you believe you can be…. And who, in the end, sees the person, that you think you are.

Thank you for ALWAYS seeing.

All My Love & Happy Valentine’s Day, S.

90 Mile


There is a patch of ocean that is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in the world.  Visitors to the beach are struck by the intensity of contrast between the electric blue water and the orange sands of the dunes.  It is said to be one of the most photographed areas in the world.

The beach is New Zealand’s 90 mile, and it is believed to be the third longest uninterrupted coastline in the world.    Although called the 90 Mile beach, the name is a bit of a misnomer.   The name actually results from a math error.  When missionaries first traveled the beach by horseback, it took them three days to cover its full length.  Figuring that a horse could travel thirty miles a day, but failing to accommodate for the effect of sand slowing down their travel, they naturally, but incorrectly, assumed the beach to be 90 miles long.  It is actually only 55 miles.  

For many, this beach is one of those spiritual places where people will spend a great deal of time travelling to just to spend a few days recharging on its sands.   For me, I have long had a desire to visit the beach and do just that.    Truth be told, the imaginary daydreamed escape to New Zealand has always been one of the tools that I have used to battle the day to day stresses of my life.   When life gets hectic and I start burning the candle on both ends and in the middle, every now and then I take the opportunity to plan my great escape to somewhere on the New Zealand mainland.

Why New Zealand?   Why do I want to close the doors on Keene, NH and  restart life in New Zealand?  Why do I spend time on the internet looking at homes in Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington?   Probably more than anything, I do so because its far away.   I have a friend who likes to say, surfing the net to imagine a new life in some distant corner of the globe, is the modern equivalent to our grandparents dream of riding the rails.   Its our way of temporarily running away from all the hectic to do lists, demands, bills, and concerns of our day to day.

Although I have never visited New Zealand, and the odds of me doing so are not great, there is a big part of me that has this Utopian or the Grass is always greener perspective of what this part of the world is like.     Some of it may not be rooted in reality, but there are indeed a great number of ‘pros’ for life in New Zealand.    A climate where snow can be seen only once or twice a year, and average temperatures hover around 60 degrees is the biggest of pluses for this snow hating New Englander.    

Add to that the truth that the overall quality of life is consistently higher in New Zealand.   The rates of education are higher there than in the US with an adult literacy rate of 99%.  New Zealand is ranked 23rd in Life Expectancy versus the USA’s 50th.   The economy is consistently solid, and unemployment is almost 4% less than the US.   The population is said to be more spiritual at their core than the typical American.  It’s even one of those places where American sports like Baseball and Football are growing exponentially. The demographic deck is certainly stacked in New Zealand’s favor.

If you move beyond economics and demographics you must also consider the sheer beauty of the land.   If you have ever seen Phil Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies you have seen the natural landscape of New Zealand.  In a rather condensed road trip one can experience any type of geography, climate, or nature that tickles your fancy.   It’s simply a gorgeous area, and the photographs will take your breath away.

No set of photographs will do that more so than those taken of 90 mile beach.  As such, it has become one of those New Zealand destinations that I escape to when life gets a little overwhelming.    When, the pressures of deadlines at work, your daughter’s impromptu visit to the Emergency Room,  a nagging running injury, a church charge conference, and several challenges that you would prefer to forget about for a moment all seem to vie for those last few nerves I have left, I find myself taking a minute or two to disappear.  I find myself getting lost in pictures such as the one attached to this post.

In the end, that escape provides a mental health break for a few minutes.  The break is short enough to keep my mission on track, but long enough for me to find a lower gear and exhale.   In the end, I know that I have put this distant part of the world on some oversized and glorified pillar.  I know that my impression versus its reality is likely separated by a million miles, but when those wonderful road bumps of life find you, it’s good to have your escape.   It’s good to have the fantasy.  A maverick life in New Zealand is mine.

When all those things that I just mentioned came crashing down on my plate this past week, I found myself voyeuristically peering through a never ending supply of New Zealand pictures on Google.   As I did, I stumbled upon a story of one brief moment on 90 Mile Beach this past January.   It was the story of Jackie Maynard Wiki, a native to the area.

His story at first seemed so spectacular that it was hard to believe.   It was not only hard to believe, but if it was true the story is, simply put, powerful.   The more I researched the story and the more I learned about Jackie, the more I realized that his was a story that I needed to share with you this morning. 

It’s a powerful story that I hope hits close to home.

As I was preparing this sermon, I turned to Facebook to contact Jackie’s son, and let him know just how I was moved by his father’s story.    I just wanted him to know that even thousands of miles away, in our corner of the world, the story of a 55 year old man could not only move me, but open my eyes.   I told him that I would be sharing this message.

Jackie’s Story:

Jackie was your normal blue collar father.    From the reports that I read, it doesn’t seem that Jackie was enormously wealthy, but just that he was a solid, family man.   Although I am sure that he had his dents and bruises like the rest of us, his son said that his father was a “funny, out there” kind of guy.    As I think of it, I imagine that description is not much different from some of the kinder descriptions my own children might give me.

He fathered three children, and was your typical Dad.   He drove a truck for a living, and for sometime before that he owned a family campground.    He lived several hours away from 90 Mile, but like many others found relaxation and recharge at the beach.   

What the pictures don’t tell you of 90 Mile is that due to some weird oceanic topography the beach has some of the most dangerous tides in the world.   As you approach the beach there are countless signs that warn the visitor of harsh conditions of the beach for the two hours before and two hours after rising and falling tide.   Cars getting washed out to sea are a common occurrence for those who fail to heed the warning.

Jackie understood the danger.   His story never appears to be one of a man throwing caution to the wind, or taking unnecessary or dangerous risks.  As a matter of fact, he understood the danger of 90 Mile and he respected it.  It was almost as if it was his way of loving the beach.

On a trip to see family, he decided to take two of his grandchildren ages 5 and 6 to play at the beach.    Together they were going to collect a seafood dinner from the shore, and then spend some time bonding at the beach.   It was a day which I assume to be have been like a hundred others.  It certainly must have started that way, but without a doubt in an instant everything changed.

While they were in the shallows, an unexpected rip tide struck and sucked the children out into the open water.    As Jackie turned he realized that his grandchildren were in enormous danger and in an instant shot out towards were they were fighting the tides.  He was accompanied by a 17 year old bystander.  In a matter of seconds they were at the children’s sides.  I would imagine it was in that moment that they both realized the full force and strength and power of those waves. It must have been terrifying.

As the teenager swam one child back to shore Jackie’s attention was focused on the other.  It was then that the ultimate struggle began. Jackie was unable to pull the child through the current.   He was unable to swim the child out.   In a desperate attempt to spare the child, Jackie did the only thing he could think of doing.   He took a deep breath and sank below the water.   In the turmoil of the waves, Jackie grabbed a hold of the child and hoisted him partly above the water. 

 I can’t imagine the thoughts that travelled through the man’s mind, but he must have been praying that the air in his lungs lasted as he stood with his face several inches under water.   You can only imagine the desperation of his prayers and the uncertainty of those few moments, as he stood blindly underwater, waiting for someone to come.   It must have seemed like an eternity.

That same, unknown 17 year old that rescued the first child finally managed to reach the second.  He snagged the child from his grandfather’s grip and brought the child to safety.   He had reached the child in the nick of time…at least for the child.    Jackie was lost to the waves.   In that moment a grandfather sacrificed everything to provide a chance for his grandchild to survive.

He never hesitated.    His son says that his father loved his grandchildren immensely.    He says that his father was a hero.   What happened on 90 Mile that day was in his nature.

What Jackie’s Story Tells Us:

In the process of confirming the details of this story, I discovered that it has rightfully led to an enormous outpouring of sympathy for the family.  Despite occurring less than two years ago, the story has reached almost legendary status.  In my search for details on this story, I have even found churches and blogs that use the story to illustrate any number of concepts; from the idea of divine love to the power and strength of grandparents.   There is no arguing its ability to reach those who hear it.  

Jackie Tells Us What Love Looks Like.

This is indeed a story that hints at the divine love of God.    The love that is God is this type of Love.   The Bible continually reminds tells us that true Love perseveres.  It always protects.   It never fails.   Divine love is not self serving but completely sacrificial.   Its powerful and its life changing.    When we say that God is Love, this Love is all those things, and it is certainly expressed in actions similar to what Jackie did that day in the surf.   In Jackie’s story, I certainly catch a glimpse of what God’s love looks like.

This is first and foremost a love story.   It’s a love story between a man and his grandchild.   It is a powerful story, but that power doesn’t come as a function of it representing some unthinkable feat.   I would hope that none of us would think twice about choosing the same course as Jackie did.  This is how things are supposed to be.   

I know at my core that if it was my child in that situation, I would not hesitate.  I would make that mad dash into the waves as quickly, if not quicker, than Jackie did.   His love is not a unique love.  

What makes Jackie’s story so special and so important is its clarity.   Jackie’s actions are a clear living out of the very love we all feel at our core.    It’s  a privilege to see it so clearly.

Jackie’s Story is a Calling.

In the end, I don’t want to leave Jackie’s story there.   After spending a great deal of time in this moment over the last few days, I think for me the story of Jackie is also important for another reason.    I believe that Jackie’s story shows the type of love that makes a difference.    I believe that we need to be  (and we can be) challenged, encouraged, and empowered by what happened that day on 90 Mile.

We talk endlessly about how the world needs to change.   We have had our hearts broken again and again over the hurts in our community that we witness.   We turn to God and ask why is this world such a fouled up place, and we grow tired waiting for answers.

Crack Cocaine, Child Abuse, Hunger Alcoholism, Cancers, Drug Abuse, Teenage Pregnancy, Unemployment, Runaways, Pollution, Terrorism, Greed, Infighting, Kidnapping, Gun violence, Lost Children, Lost Adults, Stock Market Crashes, obesity, and poverty are all words that are quickly loose their impact.   These are things that are becoming commonplace.    Sadly, we want to change the world, but we cannot and in the end, we do not.

Consider one issue on that dizzying list I rather hastily compiled; hunger.   Let’s take a moment and consider the statistics.   More than 50 million Americans, including over 17 million children are considered food insecure in the US.   Simply put, they don’t have enough money, or assistance, to go without being hungry. 

Twenty percent of our population is hungry.   Feeding America, who helps source our own food pantry reports that 5% of all households in the US have turned to a food pantry in the last year one or more times.   Having said all this, the saddest truth is that hunger is completely fixable.  It is estimated we could alleviate hunger in the US, for an estimated one time injection of $15billion dollars.

$15 Billion dollars is huge amount but it is less than half of what we spend developing nuclear weapons in this country each year.    It is $30 billion less than what it cost to put on the Beijing Olympics.   It’s equal to the cost of construction projects in Iraq, and its $400 Billion dollars less than the Bush/Obama bailouts.   

Let us take it one step further.  At the same time that so many of our neighbors are starving to death, and our government is doing little to stop it, it is said that the Catholic Church has over 10 billion dollars in property and the United Methodist Church has 8.    It is said, by some estimates that the total Christian Church has close to $30billion in assets.   If we sold half of what we owned the church could end hunger once and for all in the US.   We claim we want to change the world, but do we really want to?  We claim we are Christians for that matter, but are we?  Can we call ourselves when the balance sheet is so warped?

When I heard Jackie’s story, I was reminded of one simple truth;  If we want to change the world, if we want to make a difference, and if we want to be the people that God calls us to be, then we need embrace Jackie’s kind of love.  We need to be people willing to go rushing towards the waves without second guessing our own comfort or own solid ground.   

We need to give all that we have to make that difference.    We need to risk everything.  We need to be willing to suck water if it means holding another up.   It’s a radical love with a passion, a intensity, and a commitment that will change the world.

A Challenge to Be Better, to Be More Loving.

I have recently came across a writer who challenged his readers in a very direct way.  In turn, I offer you the same challenge.   The writer says (and I am tweaking his argument a bit) if we were honest with ourselves, and truly acting in accordance with our faith, we would take a look at the world and see what bothers, challenges or moves us.  We would ask ourselves what it is in our church, our neighborhood, or our world that truly breaks our heart.  Knowing that is critical, because most times heartbreak is the truest indicator of where God is calling you.     If we refuse to pay attention, we are refusing to listen.   

 Once we identify the cause of the heartbreak, we need to be those that learn all there is to learn about it.   We would read newspapers, search the internet, and visit the library with that issue in mind.   We would become experts on the issue.  We would turn to the Bible with this issue on our mind.   We would pray about it.   We would go to bed with it on our mind.

Then, with all that newly acquired expertise we were pursue its resolution in full force.   We would work to spread what we learn to our communities, our leaders, and our peers.  We would write letters and make websites and signs. We would commit ourselves fully to that issue, and with a radical, purposeful, and sacrificial love put all we have into overcoming or defeating it.   We would do just that because our faith demands it.   

In the end, that is not a neat roadmap, or a cool life model.  It is a risky, all or nothing, full Love approach to living out our faith in real and concrete terms.

In this one man’s story we see so much.   In the story of that man on 90 Mile we see what true love looks like.  We see real world actions and decisions and hope that we have the same conviction at our core.   We see sacrifice and love lived out to its fullest in an instant and without forethought.

In Jackie we also see what God’s love looks like.   Knowing that God’s love is beyond anything this world can hint at, we gain confidence in Jackie’s example.   We know that if Jackie can do that for his grandchildren, than we will surely feel God lifting us up when the waves are crashing all around us.

Lastly, Jackie reminds us of the Love we are called to practice if we truly want to change the world.    As people of faith we are called to Love, and that love is the type of Love seen off 90mile.    That love is not only our challenge it is our responsibility, our obligation, and our duty.

I guess in the end, the ultimate lesson we can learn is that Love changes, and Love Changed everything.   We need to celebrate that.  We need to embrace that.   We need to be all about that.   

 

Sources:

http://www.dosomething.org/

http://thevibe.socialvibe.com/index.php/2008/11/10/what-would-it-cost-to-end-world-hunger/

http://www.womenaid.org/press/info/food/food4.html

http://www.northernadvocate.co.nz/news/hero-grandpa-died-knowing-of-rip-danger/1013461/

Photo by Fir0002, 2002 – CCL

15 Shekels: A Love Story


The below is a retelling of an incredible old testament story, originally concieved by Albert VanWoodsen, a minister in a Free Methodist church outside of San Diego, California.

I was fortunate enough to witness a much shorter version of this message, and walked away spell bound.   Maybe it captured my attention because of its MTV/Jerry Springer feel.   It is certainly a juicy story.    Maybe it had to do with the love that exists throughout the story, and the trust that we have which says in the end, that that love will never fail.  Either way it stayed with me.   

With permission, I extended the story, changed it, and made it a sermon some time ago.     As I prepared the message, I also found the attached sketch of the two, and from time to time found myself lost in the image.    I have yet to figure out who drew the picture, and sadly, I use it without permission.   Hopefully, the artist (whoever he or she may be) would believe that this message edifies the drawing.    This story is a familiar one, and we easily can picture ourselves in the middle of it.

We begin by picturing a busy market.   Not a market like Hannaford’s or Price Chopper, but a market from two thousand years ago.   Imagine a market in the Middle East over 700 years before the birth of Christ.   This is the village I want you to imagine.

This place is beyond filthy by today’s standards.   Dust and Dirt not only cover all that is being sold, but all those who are busily moving from cart to cart.   The market is at the center and most populated places in the city.    As a matter of fact, some of the faces we see seem to exist separate from the market itself.

All types of people have taken up residence on the fringes of this hectic market.    The streets, filthy as they are, not only serve as a place to hawk your wares, but to dump sewage, trash, and even the sick.   The smells of filth merge with the smells of food cooking and the unkempt animal stalls, and they hang heavily in the hot Middle Eastern afternoon.  There is no description adequate to describe those smells.

Walking through the market, you are hit hard by the sights and sounds.   All types of treasures and all types of spectacle are all around you.    The voices of beggars are combined with the voice of merchants and customers bargaining over the best price. None remain more than noise.  There is a musician playing a lyre off to the side, in hopes of separating you from a coin or two.    All these sounds; the good and the bad, have combined with the smells to make all your senses seem as if they had gone into overdrive.

As you walk through this mass of confusion and chaos, your ear catches something in the distance that is louder than the rest of the mob around you.   It’s an auctioneer, selling something and he has attracted quite a crowd.    You can’t help but find yourself wandering closer.  The auctioneer’s words ring through the crowd with stinging intensity. 

“Six Shekels, I’m bid six shekels,…who will make it seven?  You sir, will you make it 7?    No?   7 Shekels is a small price to pay for this slave woman, everyone knows this.”

There on a podium not a few yards from you stand, is a woman, naked and dirty.   It’s not hard to see that she wasn’t taken care of.   You can see every rib, and her body is covered in bruises.    Oddly you are captivated by this woman…something seems different… 

Perhaps it’s her hair.  You can see the long black hair, and you just know that it wasn’t that long ago, when that hair would have been beautifully cared for… now it’s dirty and full of lice.   It’s matted and dull.

Moving beyond her hair, you start thinking it’s the eyes.   Her eyes are dark not with make up or cosmetic, but rather fatigue and abuse. They are haunting.   You are positive that at another time or another place, the beauty of her black eyes would have brought men to their knees.   They would have turned Kings into Jesters.  It might have brought you to your knees.  The more you think about it the more certain you are that they would have.

That was a long time ago.    There is no doubt that whatever happiness and joy this woman had, left her a long time ago.   In her place stands sadness and defeat.   Those beautiful black eyes…are now empty.

8 Shekels?   Do I hear 8 Shekels?    Come on folks this is a great buy!   Where will you ever find a slave woman for 8 Shekels?   I promise you, the ones to come will go for 20 – 40 – 50 times this!   Anyone, 8 Shekels?

As the bidding continues, it’s obvious that although the woman is standing right there on the block, she is a million miles away.    She is in a different place.   She is in that place where she sees what was, and what could have been.   

She is rewinding the memories of her life.

She had not always been a slave.   She was born free.    She wasn’t treasure of war.  She wasn’t destined to be a slave.   It was something else.   She chose slavery.   She was once as free as the man who held her chains.  It seemed so long ago, and so far away, that it almost didn’t seem real.   It seems as if that life was just a dream.

She remembers her wedding day.   Everything was so perfect.   She looked so beautiful, with the finest clothes.   The celebration was incredible.   There was music and food.   The finest food and the finest wine was in large supply.   Everything was there; her husband had not cut a single corner or spared a single expense.  

The whole village had turned out to celebrate with them.   There were all types of food, and drink.   Fruits and vegetables, three kinds of meat; all made ready and with perfection for the guests.   Everything was perfect.  

Her body aches at the memory of the food.   If only she could have just a taste of it today.   The pain of her empty stomach, the memory of that day, and the collection of smells in the market, makes her knees quiver a bit.  She drifts off to another place.   If those around her were paying attention they would see another instant in the long time breaking of her heart.

She is snapped out of the daze of her mind by the snap of a stick that the slave trader used as both whip and attention getter.

I said turn around woman.  Show this crowd your backside.  Show them every inch of who you are.   Anyone 8 Shekels?

With a shame that was palpable, she lowers the torn fabric covering her naked body, and slowly turns to show each part of her naked, battered and bruised body.   

See the lash marks?   See the scars?   They are old.   She has learned her discipline a long time ago.   She is well worth the 9 shekels,…who will give me ten?   Ten for a slave that doesn’t need to be taught discipline?

In the humiliation of that moment, she finds herself back at her wedding day.   It was such a beautiful wedding.   Everything had been perfect.   Even her husband was perfect.   He was a good man.   He wasn’t rich, but he worked hard to provide all she wanted.   He was patient and kind.   He never struck her.   She couldn’t recall a cross word ever coming out his mouth.   He was a good husband….and a good father.

The images of her children, their faces….they arrive with a pain in her gut that is almost too hard for her to handle. It’s like she’s been kicked.  How old would they be now?   Are they okay?  

Of course they are, she says to herself.   They are with their father.   He was so gentle with her and with them.    He tried to picture them in their nice house, with their nice clothes, and she wanted to cry.    If she only she could do it over…if only she could do it over again….  What she wouldn’t do….  

She wanted to cry, but there were no more tears…

Ten shekels,…Im bid ten shekels…   Who will give me more…Do I hear 11.    We will never get to the better slaves, until you take her….

As the men stared upon her naked body, and refuse to bid,…she thinks about how men used to look at her.    She was so beautiful and soft then.   Her skin was soft, and her hair perfect.   Everywhere she went the heads would turn, and men would follow each of her steps, with a gaze that seemed impossible to break.     She loved the attention…   Oh, how her husband would beg and plead with her not to leave their home dressed as she was…  

She started to wonder when JUST the attention stopped being enough.   She remembers how little she was moved…or how little it bothered her… the first time a man gave her money for the affections that should have been reserved for her husband….She loved the money….the power…. The devotion….  She became a man’s idol and she loved it.

Her mind jumps to her husband, she sees the pain so clear and obvious on his face then, and it breaks her heart.   Why hadn’t she seen it then?   Why was she so stupid?   Why was she so blind…?  How could she have gotten so lost along the way?

He would have done anything.   His hurt and his pain were never hid.    What was so dark, so empty, so rotten within her….that kept her leaving that man…that good man….night after night…for the company of drunks, thugs, and nameless others?  Why was she so empty then?    Why was the passion, the urges, and the sins so much more appealing, than simply the love of that one good man….her husband?

Okay I got 10 shekels,….anyone willing to bid eleven?   I got ten….   Going once… Going twice….

She had been reduced to a harlot.   It was only a matter of time, before the men stopped looking at her.  She had become common.    She had become something less than common.  She was damaged goods.  She was soiled. 

She remembered the agony of seeing her beauty disappear, and eventually the men too.  There was nothing left.   She had nowhere to go.   She couldn’t go back to her husband…after the way she treated him.    He was a godly man….  He would turn away.      The law was clear….   If she would have returned they would have thrown stones on her. Isn’t breathing better than dying in that manner?  As she thinks about where she stood at that moment, she believed that dying might have been better for her.

She remembers that first night that she found herself on the edge of the garbage pit outside of the city.    She closes her eyes as she thinks about scurrying through the dump in search of anything not too spoiled or not too rotten.  She had found a piece of some sort of meat, and brushing away the maggots it became her meal.   She had become an animal, nothing more.    It was the bottom.

She was at that bottom…rock bottom, when she saw the slave trader.    He too took her, and after a while when she was no longer any good to him…He brought her here….To this day….He took her naked to the auction block….

Ten shekels, going twice….Ten….  What?   What did you say sir?   15?   15 Shekels?    Sir, I assure you that there are better women coming this day?   15 Shekels and 10 bushels of Barley,…   Sir….  Are you sure?…..   Um…  Okay,….15 shekels, and 10 bushels of barley….going once….going twice….  Sold….

In an instant the deal is done.   The one who bought the woman made his way to the auction block.  

Who was he the slave trader was sure to wonder…  Who cares was his gut answer….The seller counted the coins, and the barley…All the while trying to keep his smile from showing….   He couldn’t imagine the good fortune of getting such a price for this….  This tired old and beaten harlot…Let the tired old man have her.

The woman couldn’t move.   She couldn’t open her eyes.   She knew it was over…   But she couldn’t find the strength to go to one more man….one more owner who would use her as all the rest had done…. Maybe it would be for a few months this time….  She braced herself for the switch, whip, kick or the shove….Her eyes hard shut.

When she felt a soft, silken robe gently being placed upon her shoulder, her breath left her.    She looked down and saw hands closing the robe across her front.  She was no longer naked and exposed.    Slowly she turned around…surprised…anxious and confused….

It was Him….

It was her husband.    He was standing there with tears in his eyes, and slowly began to stroke her face…just as he did decades before….

Without a word of judgment,…or even a hint of disgust…He grabbed her face in both hands,…and with a softness and a tenderness she had forgotten…he asked her if she wanted to come home….  

Not as a street walker or as a slave….but as his wife.

The tears that had so long ago left her, flooded from her eyes.  

Her world spun.   Her knees gave out and she fell into his outstretched and waiting arms.  

As she felt his arms embracing her….   She knew…. She knew she was going home….    The emptiness was gone…

The story of Hosea,…and his wife….is a story about love.   It is the story of that unique love between a man and his wife.    The story of Hosea is also the story of another love;  The story of God’s love for each of us.

It is said, that a prophet has two roles as we see them in the Old Testament.  

The first is to show us how God Acts…and the second is to show us how we should.

This love, the love that God expresses, is for each and every person inside and outside of the church and the circle of our faith.   God stands waiting to bid on the auction for our lives, and the lives of billions of people.   This is who God is.

With that said, if God loves the harlot,…the hurt….the beaten and bruised so completely and wonderfully as this….Shouldn’t we?  Yet it doesn’t make any sense….  We most certainly want him to love us like this….  But it cant be the same for  him or her…. They are different…  They are druggies, they’re queer, she has had three kids from three different men….   He’s a wife beater…He’s a crook….he is in prison….He is a leper.  God’s promise if for us, it is not for them, right?

We come here,…we worship…we sacrifice… and the story of Hosea rocks us to our core.   The story of Hosea is our promise, not theirs.

It’s so sad, that too often we find ourselves remaking God…  We remake him into something that he is not…   We remake him into something less powerful…. Less mighty…Less loving.

I tell you what…  Take this story….   Take the story of Hosea and his wife,….Or any of the other stories in the book….and I challenge you to try to create a better, more incredible, or more life changing God than what is revealed here…  You won’t be able to do it….This God,…My God….Is so much better.

God’s love is just pain illogical.   God’s love doesn’t make sense. God’s love is a love unlike anything that I could have ever imagined.  You  can spend your days like Hosea’s wife….pursuing every broken promise, dream, and hope, until you are so far away from him, that you have a hard time sensing his presence.

You can embrace your broken lives and your dirty habits so much that you can’t even see how badly they are beating you down.   You can embrace the grit and dirt,…find yourself feeding from the garbage dumps around us….and ask yourself how in God’s name did you end up there.

But know this….

God’s love is unconditional, unqualified, and unrelenting.    In your nakedness, in your shame… in your lowest moments… He is waiting to put a robe upon your shoulders…. 

He is reaching out a grabbing your face in his hands…and through tears telling you….No asking you….  To come home.  Come Home.  Please Come Home with Me….

(To Read the Hosea Story, Click Here)

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