Friday, November 11, 2011

Heart for Sale

When I lived in New Orleans, some of the women there began a ministry to women working in the sex industry. The ladies involved walk the streets of the French Quarter, building relationships with the dancers in the clubs, the bouncers, and even the club owners. They are doing a beautiful thing by loving these girls where they are, with a gift or maybe just a smile, and blanketing Bourbon Street and the rest of the Quarter in prayer. Their task is not easy. But those girls are worth the risk. 

When I hear the word ‘prostitution’ my mind paints a picture of what I’ve just described: people in dark rooms or on dark streets selling sex for money. We sometimes hear prostitution described as “the world’s oldest profession.” But there are other types of prostitution.
In Genesis 15, God made a binding covenant with Abram. He promised that Abram would give birth to a nation whose people would outnumber the stars in the night sky. God made good on His promise to Abram, and several generations later Abram’s descendants outnumbered the stars in the sky. Exodus 1:7 tells us “the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.”
But as the Israelites became a great nation, they forgot about their covenant with the One True God. They hadn’t so much as gotten out of sight of the Red Sea (remember that one time when y’all walked across on dry land?) when they crafted a golden calf idol to worship while Moses was on Mt. Sinai with the Lord. Over and over (and over) we see the Israelites turning from God in disbelief or impatience and worshipping other things. It’s easy to look back on that and think, “Silly Israelites. Don’t you know that the Almighty God is on your side? I would never be that spineless.”  But oh, we are. And in a thousand more subtle ways.
The more I read of the Old Testament, the more I see the big picture: God provides for His people who promise to love and serve Him forever-- or just until, you know, they forget about that promise. Then they turn to some other idol, and God in righteous anger allows the Israelites to suffer until they return to Him. Over and over the Israelites sell out to other gods. Over and over He takes them back.
God is still doing this for us: He sees us in our sin and redeems us and offers us life with Him. But before long we turn our backs on Him. Some girls prostitute their bodies. So many more of us prostitute our hearts. How many of us seek the applause of others? Our need for the approval of others goes to our very core. We lay our hearts on the line asking of anyone who will listen, “Am I enough for you?” While the One of whom we should be asking these questions waits patiently for us to turn to Him.
Inevitably, we get hurt. Maybe then we turn to God. But soon, we follow the lure of the world away from the safety of His arms, and we get our hearts broken again. I can only imagine how much it pains our Father to watch us cast out our hearts like a fisherman casting his line, waiting and hoping for a bite. We do this over and over, after each disappointment reeling our hearts back in a little more broken, a little more bruised. Can temporary applause satisfy our heart’s longing to be loved unconditionally? Of course not.
 Oh girls, we were created for so much more than what we have become. I think God must weep when He sees His daughters hurting because we have sold our hearts at a price that is far too cheap.
I would not speak about this prostitution of the heart if I was not a repeat offender. Over and over in my own life I have looked for fulfillment everywhere but my Heavenly Father. And I am here to tell you that apart from Him, it is not to be found. True fulfillment, true wholeness, is found in Jesus alone. Not in your boyfriend/husband or your bestie or your mentor. Acts 4:12 tells us, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
So let’s stop selling our hearts to those who mean well but who just cannot meet our soul’s deepest need.  The One who fearfully and wonderfully made us loves us like no one else can. He deserves our hearts. More than that, He wants our hearts. The promise He makes us is one that no one else can make: He will never leave us.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I am not an animal person. If you know me, you know this about me. Especially if you know me and you have animals and I have been to your house. It’s not that I hate animals—I don’t. I just don’t like your dog’s wet nose leaving snot on my pants. And I don’t like feeling the need to wash my hands every 30 seconds. It’s not personal. It’s really not. But animals have this way of knowing when you aren’t an animal person, and it becomes their life’s mission to convince you otherwise. Well not me. Sorry, Kobi.

However, I do enjoy looking at animals. I love the zoo. I like pet stores. And I enjoy watching animal videos. There was one that went viral last week of a biker getting plowed by a leaping antelope. One of my ultimate favorite Youtube videos is called “BBC Talking Animals.” I nearly choke to death every time because I’m laughing so hard.
Today I came across another animal video. It was of a guy on a motorcycle traveling down a dirt road and wearing a helmet camera. There are fields on his left and a canal full of water on his right. If you’re paying attention and you look at just the right moment, you can see a speck in the canal at one point. He turns his bike around and goes back to where you may or may not have spotted the speck. It turns out the speck is a calf. Alone, wet, and lost, she has no way of getting herself out of the canal.
The driver hops off of his motorcycle and pulls out, essentially, a rope. Clearly this tells you that the driver was a man, because only a man would just happen to have the tools needed to rescue a farm animal. If the calf had had some sort of stubborn grass stain, I could’ve come to the rescue with a Tide stick. Or if the calf had had chapped lips, I could’ve offered 6 different glosses in varying shades and textures. But a tow rope? Sorry, it’s in my other purse with my monkey wrench (I don’t actually know what this is) and my WD-40.

First, MacGuyver tries to get to the calf without getting in the canal but he quickly realizes that in order to rescue her, he’s going to have to get wet. So he climbs down into the canal with the calf, ties the rope to her, climbs out of the canal, and drags her out by her front feet. He then picks her up, lays her across the front part of his motorcycle, and drives her back to the herd.
I love how God can use a video about a lost baby cow to speak truth into my heart. This poor animal was lost and alone. It was only by chance that the driver even spotted her in the canal. But miraculously, he did spot her and even more miraculously, he came to her rescue. How humbling it is that God does this for us! He sees us in our distress and instead of staying where he is and demanding that we come to him, he meets us where we are. He climbs down into the smelly, muddy waters with us. He doesn’t give up, no matter how much we fight him or how complicated our situation is.  He rescues us and, in those moments when we are too weary to walk, he carries us.
I know what it is to feel lost in the wilderness. I know what it is to feel unseen and unnoticed. But praise God that even darkness is as light to him (Psalm 139). When I’m blinded by my own despair, my Father can see the big picture. I may not know my rescuer is coming, but he knew all along that I was meant for more than drowning in a stinky canal. My rescue is sure. My hope is secure. And so is yours.

Psalm 103:2-5:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 34:17-18:

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.