“I found out I’m nothing without you… because we belong together now, yeah! Forever united here somehow, yeah! You got a piece of me, and honestly… my life.. (my life) would suck.. (would suck) without You!” -Kelly Clarkson
Week 6: The Nature & Character of God in the Face of Injustice.
“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.’ …I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.” Hosea 2:14-16 & 19-20
I am a harlot. There have been times when I have turned to other gods and loved the sacred raisin cakes, that is to say that I have chosen hate and lust and myself over God. But still He Loves me.
Several years ago during a time when I was definitely NOT being faithful to God I was being prayed over by a woman who definitely was, and remember the prayer in my mind as I knelt there: “Jesus I want you, I WANT you.” After she had prayed she told me that Jesus was telling her to tell me, “Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you.” It took me awhile to obey that, but God was faithful in His promise to me, and He drew near, and I can still feel Him drawing nearer.
I do not deserve this kind of Love. But this is the Love that is lavished upon me every day.
And THIS is the Character of God: LOVE.
Our teacher this week was Scott Freeman, who is originally from California but who journeyed to us from Costa Rica, with his wife Leslie and two of their four sons. “So, you have four kids?” Scott: “Yeah.. but the other two live in an orphanage. Just kidding!” That is the character of this man who came to teach us on the Nature & Character of God: hilarious.
Humor is so refreshing amidst the swampy mess of injustices that we have been learning about as a school, and Scott definitely brought us a strong gust of refreshment. (I’ve ALMOST got abs-o-steel from laughing so much. = ) ) My very favorite day of classes was Tuesday, when both the Justice DTS and my CRS had class together, and Scott spent the entire three hours sharing the parts of his life story that most people would never tell anyone, years and years of messing up big time. Fortunately he can see the humor in all of the senseless choices he made, and he definitely doesn’t take himself overly seriously, and therefore we were laughing through much of his testimony. Scott told us his story because he wanted us to be able to more wholly understand the Love and the Grace of God. No matter what we do His longing for us will never cease. Scott expanded further on this by talking about God and the Israelites. The way He so passionately Loves the Israelites is true also of the way He Loves all the rest of His children, including his children whom He told Israel to destroy in the Old Testament.
I have always struggled with understanding God in the Old Testament. There are multiple accounts of when He completely wiped-out entire people groups–even the whole earth. So many times I have read these parts of the Bible, and said sadly, “God, I just don’t get You.” But we talked about the God of Justice this week as well, and I finally get it. People do horrible things with the beautiful gift God gave us of free will, and the ways of practicing the religion of those people in the Bible were absolutely deplorable. “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 The way they lived was so absolutely wretched, they were suffering so much and there was absolutely no way that they would ever stop doing horrific things to each other and living in tragic misery that
the most Loving thing for God to do was destroy them completely.
God is Love, all the time, and He never does anything that isn’t Love… even wiping out His children. I finally get it. I know it’s hard to comprehend but it’s the only way that God can be both Just, Merciful, and Loving, and have done the things He did. And might I just add: my love for the Scriptures is growing daily. Scott also brought up another common mis-teaching within the church: our purpose. Why were we created? To glorify God? To serve God? I’ve been taught these things before… but if we look at Eden, our true purpose is clear: to have relationship with God. Genesis says God created this beautiful place for Adam and Eve, and that He walked in the garden in the cool of the day. He hung out with them! In the garden! That was how close and tangible God desired for our relationship with Him to be. And this is the horror of sin: that God fell in Love with us, and we walked away.
“It’s such a bummer, man.” -Scott
Humanity continues to sin against God, breaking His heart over and over and over again, every single day. How? Because we won’t let Him LOVE us. THIS is obedience to God: to let Him Love you, and that Love be the expression of your life. A few weeks ago I got up super early to make a friend a birthday dessert, and I knew I wouldn’t have time that morning to read my Bible or spend a lot of time in focused prayer, so when I slipped out of my trailer as the sun was rising I whispered “I’m sorry Jesus, we’ll just have to cook together.” About an hour later I was still in the kitchen, by myself in front of the stove, stirring the rice pudding with the sun sparkling through the glass and my thoughts circled back to Him. And all of the sudden I felt Him in His Love like a soft gust of wind brush against my heart for a second, and I felt exactly as I would feel had He been there behind me in the kitchen, circling my waist with His hands, kissing my neck lightly. Really. And I immediately crumpled over, gasped sharply, my palm pressed against my chest, and whispered “Oh! Jesus..” because it was TOO intense not to react like that. His Love is so beautiful.
This week my friend Ayumi was praying for me, and afterwords she said, “God gave me a picture for you. Your hand is in His hand, and He is guiding you, and He says He will never leave you.” I took Jesus’s hand for the first time when I was so little, and there were a lot of times that I pulled my hand out of His to run away, harlot that I’ve been. But here I am, my hand is squeezing His so tight, and I know that I know that I know that I will never leave this Love again. Because it was for this Love that I have been created.
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon… He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine…” Hosea 14:5-7