It's really been sort of interesting and challenging to begin to think, pray and write through all of the topics we have explored this year at Pretty & Wise in light of all that 2020 has held.
Purpose seems like an especially gripping topic.
This year, we've seen a lot of the vehicles through which we believed we carried out our purpose changed or stripped away altogether. Our ministries, communities, mission fields- adapted to fit into quarantine restrictions or just put aside altogether.
And I don't know about you, but without the things that made up my insanely busy, "productive" and "purposeful" life, it got pretty quiet.
And it became hard to do even the most basic, 'neighbor-loving' things.
And it was in this eerily quiet, unknown and uncharted sort of place where I believe purpose was truly fleshed out.
One of my most favorite books of the Bible is Hosea. Oh, I would love to tell you all about the many times the Lord has wooed and pursued me through this book! It holds such beautiful, breathtaking grace, love and mercy.
Hosea 2 speaks to Israel's adultery and I want you to take a look at what the Lord says:
"For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes.
I will block her path with a wall
to make her lose her way.
When she runs after her lovers,
she won't be able to catch them.
She will search for them
but not find them.
Then she will think,
'I might as well return to my husband,
for I was better off with him than I am now.'
She doesn't realize that it was I who gave her everything she has-
the grain, the new wine, the olive oil;
I even gave her silver and gold.
But she gave all my gifts to Baal." (Hosea 2:6-8 NLT)
Oh, sweet friend. I hope that you will read this book in its entirety, for the rest of this passage speaks even more to what we have experienced this year. An end to annual festivals, celebrations..
This is likened to being stripped naked.
Completely exposed before the Lord, with nothing to hide behind or throw ourselves into.
Just us and our Bridegroom. Face to face.
And wow, I've got goosebumps when I think of this level of intimacy. It is beautiful beyond words or comprehension.
But it is also uncomfortable.
I know so very well how difficult it is to be completely seen. And it's like, we know that Jesus sees us ALL, but when we become keenly aware; when we can't escape it.. whew, it's humbling. It's flesh-killing. It's sanctifying and refining.
Friend, I am sure this year has been all of this and more. And I say to you, sister:
This is very good.
The Lord's Love for Unfaithful Israel:
"But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
I will return her vineyard to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble
into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
"When that day comes," says the Lord,
"you will call me 'my husband'
instead of 'my master.'" (Hosea 2:14-16 NLT)
Through the discomfort and exposure to the elements, in the quiet and uncomfortably still, in the arid desert, have you heard Him calling?
Have you seen Him pursuing you?
This desert, this wilderness of a year. Oh, sister, this has served a purpose. Beyond what you can even begin to imagine.
This season has freed us from bondage. Caused us to repent and lay down our idols. We've thrown it all off, all that has weighed us down, so that we can begin to RUN.
Our purpose is to love the Lord God with all that we've got. Above all else. More than any other thing. Our purpose is to know that nothing else in this world will satisfy us and to drink deeply of Living Water.
Our purpose is to hunger and to thirst and to pant and long for God as a deer pants for water. (Psalm 42)
We were created in the image and likeness of the Lord God Himself. To walk with Him. To commune with Him. To love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
And then to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And so if we are to effectively walk out our purpose, purposefully, in the many ways that we love others; if we are to fruitfully be salt of the earth and light of the world, we have *first* got to love the Lord our God above all else.
This is critical.
This is vital.
And so, sweet friend, I pray that you have seen this process unfolding this year. And I pray that if the wilderness has felt unkind and almost like a near-death, wasting-away experience, that now your eyes will be opened to the restoration and new life and new wine to come.
IT. IS. COMING.
IT. IS. RETURNING.
Love is returning.
Hold firm to this truth, sister. Do not give in. God is good. He is faithful. He does not delay.
He is coming for you.
He is doing a new thing.
Do you perceive it?
Jesus, oh beautiful Jesus, we come before you. At your feet. Laid bare. And we thank you for this painful, almost unbearable pruning. We thank you for this great shaking. We pray, Lord, that we would seek Your face above all else. That you would show us how to love, by lavishing on us Your great love. You are good. You are beautiful. Your love IS lavish. It is extravagant. It doesn't make sense but you pour it out on us, Jesus. Open our eyes to see what you are up to! Help us to walk forward from here on out with great purpose, bearing fruit, ready for harvest. Awaken us, Lord! Awaken us to the full life you have for us on this side of eternity and at the same time, awaken us to what awaits for us in eternity with you. Give us an unquenchable desire for you and an urgency to establish your Kingdom. Thank you, Jesus. AMEN!
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