May, Hershey’s, and Hosea

It’s May. Actually, it’s almost June. I don’t know how May snuck up on me, but it did. I don’t particularly like May; May is a time of endings. Sunday night was the AWANA awards ceremony at church and I literally almost cried at least five times. Wow, I love those kids. Last night, the six-year-old I nanny for had her gymnastics Jubilee. She hasn’t always wanted to go to gymnastics this year, but stuck with it and finished strong, and I’m so glad I got to watch. Several of my friends are graduating high school. Youth choir had our end-of-the-year party last week. Today I took my last final, meaning that I am officially done with my junior year of high school. (It was geometry, so give me grace if this post is a little incoherent. I also got up at 5:30 for a 6:15 babysitting job today, which isn’t helping.) Basically, everywhere I turn, something else is ending. On the other hand, though, there’s been lots of planning, and I definitely like planning. Plans for the summer, for next year, for the years after that. Without endings, I guess, there would be no beginnings. Circle of life–or something cheesy like that.

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The last two weeks or so–whenever it was that I last blogged–have been a blur of studying, work, and training set to Hollyn’s “Alone,” “High Horse” by the Willis Clan, and covers of “I See Fire” from the second Hobbit movie (the book is first up on my long summer reading list). Oversized stuffed purple gorillas, friends’ final high school performances, blueberry cobbler, running from ballpark to ballpark, much-needed reminders like Matthew 7:3-5 from good friends, signing yearbooks, seeing old friends, making plans for summer–good stuff. I finished my year of dual enrollment at Toccoa Falls College; it was a great experience, but I’m glad it’s over. This fall I’ll be switching to Truett McConnell.

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This past weekend, I finished up an in-depth study on the book of Hosea. It taught me a lot of things, but mainly–dang, God really loves us. Growing up in church like I did, that’s something that gets drilled into you from the very beginning. Jesus loves me, this I know. But His love goes so much deeper than nursery rhymes. I used to think I knew what love was. I have some serious love for chocolate, for instance. Any kind, any time, any place–I’ll take it. I love love love chocolate. Then there’s people; I love a lot of people. If you’re a person and you bring me chocolate, then you better believe I’m gonna have some serious love going on for you. So I’m kind of an expert on love, right? Hershey’s = love. But that’s not what I learned when reading Hosea. Hosea married and loved Gomer even though she wasn’t faithful to him–meaning that God loved His people even though they weren’t faithful to Him. That would be like you saying you were going to bring me chocolate every day and then giving it to someone else, right in front of me, every day. Or maybe it’s deeper than that. I don’t know. I like chocolate.

Seriously, though, Hosea taught me so much. 2:16-17, for instance. Hosea tells the people to stop calling God “Baal” and to call Him “my husband” instead. I think this is implying a more intimate relationship with God. Yes, He wants us to obey Him, but He also wants us to know Him deeply and vice versa. Hosea continues on to discuss how the priests corrupted their office by sinning and how the people’s worship habits similarly deteriorated. The Israelites are politically, socially, and religiously unfaithful to God. They see Assyria as the answer to a military threat they face, thus putting their trust in men instead of God. I get that–all too often, I look for my security in people and things. All of those plans I mentioned at the top, for instance. Plans make me feel very secure. They probably shouldn’t–but they do. Anyway, Israel is the allegorical prodigal son in this story. God is shown being angry, sad, compassionate–all over the spectrum. In the final chapter, though, Israel is restored to God’s love. There were lots of ups and downs, but God promises to heal Israel’s waywardness and love them freely.

And I just realized this very moment, sitting here typing this listening to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5dnwFcdUCY (def worth a listen) and drinking lemon-lime Gatorade, how much Hosea absolutely ties in with my life right now. How did I not see it sooner? Last week–or maybe the week before, it’s honestly all been a blur lately–I wrote a blog post about loving people you don’t like. I decided not to publish it because it was pretty personal, and I didn’t want to offend anybody. But–gosh, that’s Hosea all the way. I’m reading back through my journal and there’s literally a page with angry scribbles on one line–I’m SO over these people. How do I love them? Do I really have to love them?–and God loves me and won’t give up on me the next. Put two and two together, Hailey. Gosh, it’s not that hard.

Love. I saw something the other day that said the hardest part of being a nanny was trying to not fall in love with the kids, and I was absolutely shocked. What? I understand that they’re not your kids, and that in most cases you won’t be with them for long. I’m a nanny; I get that. But if you don’t fall in love with them–what do you do? Hold them at arm’s length while you spend hours together playing and doing homework and going to their end-of-the-year gymnastics Jubilee? Like, how can you even be remotely effective at your job if you don’t love the kids? Love them. Please, love them; a child can’t have too many people who love them. Love them with the kind of intentional, head-over-heels, no-matter-what love that caused Hosea to keep loving Gomer and God to keep loving us. The kids aren’t yours, and you may not have much time, but I think those are reasons to love them harder.

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“Miss Hailey, look, I got a bouquet!”

 

I’m still learning to love people. Of course, I’ll never love anyone as unconditionally as God loves us because I’m human and people drive me crazy sometimes. But I won’t stop trying. Even if you give away my Hershey’s and you’re not my kid–I’m going to pray that I can love you like God loves me. Here’s to Tuesdays filled with endings, beginnings, chocolate, and love.

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His grace is sufficient.

His grace is sufficient. That phrase has been on my mind all day yesterday and today. We had a special service at my church yesterday morning that was centered around prayer; each song corresponded with a certain type of prayer. Praise and thanksgiving. Confession. Health concerns. That last one was the most meaningful for me. I have, and really have always had, a lot of health concerns. Lately, asthma is definitely the biggest one. It’s basically taken over my life. Our kitchen counter looks like a pharmacy; I am experiencing at least one symptom pretty much every moment of the day; I nearly die during both team softball practices and my private workouts. (By the way, May is asthma awareness month, and I just realized it’s May. So that’s pretty cool.) Asthma cannot be cured; it can only be controlled. During the song meant for prayer regarding health concerns, I was praying about asthma. One of my biggest goals and dreams is to play college softball. I’m hoping by the time I leave for college, we’ll have my asthma more controlled than it is now, because if not–I don’t think I could physically do it. So I was praying, and worrying, and wondering. Doctors say asthma can’t be healed, but God, I know You could heal me if you really wanted to. Do You want to? Why do I have asthma? What do you want to teach me through this? The music portion of the service ended, and I went back to my seat from the keyboard and continued to worry and wonder. Then, at the end of the sermon, something our pastor said made me sit up and listen (like, literally—I’m pretty sure my jaw actually dropped). Get this: God has already answered my prayer, and it’s a yes. He will heal me. It just might not occur on this earth. I’ve been turning that thought over in my head ever since then. Wow. Wow. One day, every prayer will be answered. Just sit and think about that for a minute. It sure made me look at prayer differently.

But back to that phrase. His grace is sufficient. It’s a nice thing to say; it makes a pretty quote for a canvas painting. It’s something that you would save to a Pinterest board or send to a friend if they’re having a bad day. How often, though, do I actually believe it? In theory, His grace is sufficient. In practice, sometimes it’s not. Or, more accurately—it is, but I just choose for it not to be. Somehow, I have the audacity to tell the God of the universe that I want more. I want more tangible results to my prayers, and I want them now. When I think about how small I am compared to God, and how I don’t always believe in my day-to-day life that His grace is sufficient—well, if I were God, I would not have patience with me. But He does, and He keeps giving me grace even if I choose to blunder along my own path and not accept it. I guess He knows that eventually, I’ll figure out I’m wrong and come back to Him.

His grace is sufficient

One day, I will be healed. That’s an amazing thought, and I am so grateful for it. But because I am a human, I have a finite mind, and I tend to focus more on the now than the one day. I’d like to be physically healed on this earth. In fact, it is very important to me to be physically healed on this earth. I have no idea whether that will actually happen. The strange and beautiful thing in this situation is that somehow, inexplicably, I suddenly have peace about it. Or–is it really so inexplicable?

His grace is sufficient. That is all. Let it be enough.