Lover’s Ballad

Several days ago, I was sitting in my bed at night and that ancient battle of whether or not to go with what my flesh was wanting, or what I knew my spirit needed commenced. I had not spent time with the Lord or read the Scriptures much that week, and realized I needed to, though a large part of me wanted to do other things then – looking on social media, reading, etc…All things that are not bad in and of themselves, but as believers, we’re supposed to keep the Lord first and foremost in our lives.

I’m not going to say that it was easy to do the right thing, because it wasn’t. However, I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit helped me to overcome that and do what needed to be done even if I didn’t “feel” like it.

The devotional I used was an app called “First 5.” If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a short devotional that takes about five minutes of your time. The Proverbs 31 team put together the app and devotionals, and they usually go through different books of the Bible – at least, that’s what I’ve observed so far.

Anyway, right now, they are going through Hosea.

When I opened the app, the main verse out of chapter 11 of Hosea that they were focusing on was…

“I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst and I will not come in wrath,” ~ Hosea 11:9

At first glance, you might be like, ‘ok. so, what’s the significance here?’ The part that really stuck out to me was the very end of the passage: the Holy One in your midst and I will not come in wrath. 

I read this the day before Easter. And in my mind, I kept thinking how ridiculous it was that I was struggling with wanting to read the Bible, to spend time with God. He literally died for me – nails stabbed into his hands, thorns shoved onto his head, betrayed by his closest friends. 

Then, here I am, having a difficult time deciding whether or not to spend time with Him or go scrolling on my cellphone.

See the source image

So, when I read that passage – “I will not come in wrath” – my entire brain was kinda overwhelmed. Humans, imperfect as we are, are not forgiving creatures and when someone doesn’t respond correctly after we have sacrificed everything, well, I would say that the majority of us are probably going to be pretty mad.

God is perfect. He has not sinned at all. If anyone had the right to be angry after the sacrifice Jesus gave for us, it would be Him.

But that’s not how He responds. Instead, He makes several statements that I think we all need to remember. One, God is not man – sounds straightforward, yet many times, I know I think that He will react the same way that humans do. The Holy One in your midst, reminding us that He is here. Lastly, I will not come in wrath.

I especially love this verse, and really the entire passage, not only because of what it says, but where it is located…Hosea. The Old Testament. A lot of times, the Old Testament is categorized into the section where God’s power is shown and not His love and mercy. While there is some truth to that, I don’t think it’s the whole story.

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
3
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
4
I led them with cords of kindness,[a]
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.

Then verses five through seven cover the consequences of Israel’s actions. What will happen because they refused to come back to God.

8
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
9
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.[c]

I find this passage beautiful. It really shows the Lord’s heart, I think. It reminds me almost of a lover’s ballad – someone who knows what they need to do, and yet, the very thought of hurting their love is unbearable. The tone is definite, yet broken – resigned, nostalgic, adoring.

Reading this helped me to see a different side of God that I had not really thought of before, and I hope that some portion of this Scripture will touch your heart like it did mine.

~ Southern Dreamer

My Thoughts

As some of you have likely heard, in the new live-action Beauty and the Beast, they are going to have a clearly gay character: Le Fou.

I had seen a link about it earlier, but did not think much of it. They would not do that to such a classic, well-loved story – and one for children no less. In my mind, I thought it was probably only some media station that was being overly dramatic and secular as usual.

Well, it was not. My dad showed me the article only moments ago, as I’m writing this.

I never cry, yet here I am shedding tears over it. Maybe it’s the feeling of betrayal – of someone taking something you have loved and turning it into the very opposite. Perhaps it is the fact that they have been entrusted with such a sacred character and film, and…done this – this with it? I know I should not be surprised. I know that Disney is a secular company. I know all these things; I even had figured that they would likely have a gay couple in Star Wars – however much I disagree with it. And still, I find myself feeling blindsided.

Maybe it is because everyone who has grown-up watching the animated version and identifying themselves with Belle, feels like in a way, this is their movie, their story. A classic. And you expect when someone undertakes a remaking, for them to do justice to the original, and to have them do this?

If you want to have a gay character in a children’s movie, that’s your choice. But to ruin a classic? To change what was already made? What people already loved? If they wanted to introduce a gay character, which I would prefer them not to of course, this was not the way to do it.

Perhaps it’s the sin of it all that grieves me. It angers me that sweet, innocent children may watch this new movie and see whatever scene this is, and become confused. Confused that if they have a friend of the same sex, does that mean they’re gay? If they think a person of the same gender is handsome/pretty, does that mean they’re gay? How saddening, for people to believe the answer to these questions is yes (Author note: These are my opinions and thoughts, you are welcome to disagree; I am not looking to debate anyone about this. Also, I am not going to get into the whole logistics/biblical context/etc of someone being gay right now).

Honestly, I am not even sure why I’m writing this. I guess I thought that if I wrote my thoughts down, maybe it would help me process them. Regarding the movie as a whole, I am truthfully not even sure I will be going to see it in theatre. This news has really depressed me. They have taken my favorite Disney princess – heroine, my favorite animated classic, and added something that is not in the original. And that I certainly do not agree with.

~ saddened, Southern Dreamer

Sin and the Ingrown Toe Nail

Ingrown toe nails are nasty, painful problems to have. Actually, I happen to suffer from them. For me at least, they’re genetic: my dad and grandmother both have them. Every time I hit my ingrown tail nail – even if it’s gently! – on a surface, it hurts like the dickens.

And that is why, once a month, I have to go to the nail salon and allow the lady to remove it. And man does it hurt. You would think, after all, if I go monthly that it would not cause me any discomfort to have it removed, right? After all, it is a much better alternative than not going at all.

But that’s the funny thing about sin and ingrown toe nails. It’s not a one time deal. I can’t go to God and be like, “Alright Lord! Rid me of sin once and for all! I want it all gone! Every little bit!” or say to the salon woman, “Ok, what’ve you got for a one-time-fix-all?” It doesn’t work like that. Similarly to how ingrown toe nails do not disappear forever once the ingrown is removed, so does our sin not vaporize when the Lord extends his forgiveness to us and wipes the slate clean.

I remember, one time, when not all of my ingrown had been removed. Very soon after it began to hurt – when usually I can at least go a bit longer after having it taken out. We may desire for God to only cleanse us of one tiny portion of our sin, but that is not how He works. C.S. Lewis states it brilliantly in Mere Christianity when he says,

“Let me explain. When I was a child I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother – at least, not til the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache,” and “Our Lord is like the dentists…Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of…or which is obviously spoiling daily life. Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.”

If we even allow a little leeway for any specific sin to sneak back into our life, it will cause us some sort of painful consequence – even if we think, “Why, I’m only doing it once a week! How bad could that possibly be?” Quite dangerous indeed. For once a week can often turn to twice a week and that in essence can increase until you and I find ourselves doing it every day! The entire sin (and ingrown!) must be removed. Not only a portion.

Additionally, just as we must continually return to the throne of grace and humbly ask for forgiveness and aid in refusing sinful temptation, so must I go monthly and have my ingrown removed. Many times, both of these instances are horribly painful and reek of discomfort. But, the great relief that comes when that sinful corner or ingrown pressure is eliminated gives a much needed motivation to continue returning. The periodical short term (or sometimes long term) pain of having it taken out in return for the wonderful sensation of relief – even if it is a bit sore, it definitely is worth all the trouble.

~ Southern Dreamer