Skin-deep

God-whispers

I have heaps of stretch marks – on the back of my legs, the inside of my thighs, the side of my knees. They are everywhere. Where there is skin, there are stretch marks. I used to have acne too.  I used to cry about these things while playing “All By Myself” in the background.

Okay, the last part was a joke.

But I would be so insecure about these things and I’d do anything and everything to hide them and heal them. I would look at other girls with so much envy in my heart, because their skins looked spotless. (Well, stretch mark-less). I used to think of beauty, value, and worth as something that you can only see on the surface. But they’re not. And I hope that one day, I would be able to teach my own sons and daughters (and sons and daughters of the King), that beauty runs deeper than skin.

That there is beauty that runs far beyond the surface of your skin. And that is the very breath of the Creator who left His own fingerprint when He created you in His image.

You’ve heard this story:

On the first day, God spoke light into existence.

On the second and third day, He created water and land.

And on the fourth and the fifth, He created the rest.

But He didn’t stop there.

The same breath that spoke the galaxy and nature into existence, is the same breath that created His masterpiece, His finest work of art.

You.

He thought of you, breathed you into existence, and weaved Himself into your story one December night, so that you and I can be part of His story.

But He’s not going to stop there.

He is constantly and consistently refining you. He is perfecting your faith, molding you into the likeness of His Son.

Because He loves you.

Oh, you are so loved.

You are so loved that God wants to spend eternity pouring out His love to you. Because the love that you see and feel now is nothing but a squinted glimpse of the Father’s nature. A faint echo of Him screaming, “I love you. You are mine.”

Look at yourself, not with a mirror, but through the cross. Because when He stretched His arms, He felt agony with every fibre of His being (and I promise you, “agony” is only a partial explanation). But He also saw you, and He thought, “I love her. I will redeem her before she even knows my name.”

.

.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)

Fully known, fully loved

God-whispers

Hosea was a prophet – with a unique calling from God.

Love the prostitute, Gomer.

Yet Gomer was a gonner. She liked to run to all the wrong places. Still, Hosea pursued her. Still, Hosea loved her.

I’d like to believe Gomer believes (or at least believed) in love. I’d like to believe that no girl grew up thinking “I’m gonna sleep around when I grow up. I want to be married five, maybe six times.”

No girl dreamt of that.

No girl dreams of that.

I’d like to believe that Gomer was looking for true love, but somehow, always ended up more unsatisfied and unfulfilled than when she first started. So she looked for love again. And again. And again. She looked in all the wrong places. She looked for love, yet what she found was fake, cheap love.

The thing is – I can relate to Gomer. I’m not a prostitute (praise Jesus), but I can relate to her. I know what it’s like to look for and taste things that promise to satisfy and fulfill. I can finish the bottom of the bottle, and at the end of it, the bottle and I would have one thing in common – empty. I’m guilty of trading His unfailing love for cheap love. (And I pray that I will never be guilty of it again.)

There’s a story in the New Testament about the woman at the well (John 4:1-26). She was out drawing water from the well at noon time, the hottest time of the day, so that no-one will see her. So that she doesn’t have to be reminded of the shame that she is now up to her sixth man, one who is not her husband. And Jesus? Jesus just knows. Her deepest, darkest sins. The beauty of it was that she was fully known. But she was also fully loved. And the seventh man, the one who truly loves her tells her that whoever “drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” (Hint: Jesus was referring to Jesus.)

Gomer and the woman at the well had one thing in common – they were both thirsty. Thirsty for real love – a love that satisfies. Beloved, you can draw from the well of this world, but I can guarantee you – while it tastes good, it does not satisfy.

It will never satisfy.

The promises of this world are empty.

Beloved, I want you to know that there is hope.

Beloved, I want you to know that Jesus’ offers the same thing that He offered to the woman on the well to you and I today. He is still offering a well that won’t run dry, a river that will satisfy, and an entire ocean of mercy and grace.

The story of Hosea was not merely about Israel’s unfaithfulness. It was about God and His unwavering pursuit of the Israelites, of you and I. It was about God and how He loves us, beyond dirt and disobedience. And how His love is more than a command to stop sinning. He is extending His hand, calling His beloved children home to a place they are yet to see.