The Hot Pursuit: A Gomer Story

Many moons ago, about this time last year, someone (Josh) got the bright idea to introduce our kids to the movie Frozen. Instantly, they were hooked. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t equally as obsessed. At some point, maybe a couple weeks or months after watching “YaYa” every single day, I noticed that every time Hans came on screen, Aniston’s face lit up. My one-year-old daughter had fallen in love with the bad boy. How did I let this happen? I desperately tried to convince her to like Kristoff by pointing out his good qualities. Mind you, I was speaking to a ONE-YEAR-OLD. She could care less. Of course, I had to bring this to Joshua’s attention, so together we watched Aniston watch the movie. He saw the same thing. It finally hit me, looking at her then looking at him: Hans reminds her of her PaPa. Alas, she is her mother’s child. Aniston still gets all dreamy-eyed every time she sees her Prince Not-So-Charming.

I wasn’t always one to go after the “bad boy”. I met my first two boyfriends at church. But, there was something about Josh. Of course, I didn’t see him in that light when he first messaged me on Facebook, “Hey, how do I know you?” He was/is quite the smooth talker, and I was instantly smitten, hanging onto his every word. It didn’t take long for people to start warning me about him. My dad, ex-boyfriends, basically anyone who had heard a story or two about my new love interest was letting me know he was a Bad News Bear. When I approached him about these stories, with no implication that they deflected my attraction to him, he started showing his true colors to me, as well. After only a few weeks of dating, Josh showed up at my house at 1AM, very distraught and angry. He wanted to give everyone a piece of his mind, and he wanted to break up with me before I beat him to the punch. That was the night I broke my own rule and told him those three little words. He was bewildered at the fact that I would still love him after everything I’d been told. After a couple more emotionally exhausting months, his bewilderment made more sense to me. After every random senseless argument, I found myself asking God why He made me love Josh. This guy seemed hopeless. Though we made many, many, MANY mistakes together, I continued to pray for God’s will and for tons of patience. God put the same love for me in Joshua’s heart that He had placed in me for Joshua. Slowly but surely, God used me to mold and shape Josh into the man He was holding out hope for all along. Josh had always been a kind, compassionate person but had been betrayed by people influenced by Satan. For over ten years Josh had lived a life controlled by addictions and discouragement. At first he made changes to his life to impress me. Eventually, his love for God surpassed his love for me, and here we are. Now, we are a month into the biggest adventure of our life (thus far) pursuing God and letting Him have total control.

In my minister’s wives class, we are studying women of the Bible. One of the women we studied last week was Gomer. Her story of hope can be found in the book of Hosea. Hosea was a prophet. God told Hosea to marry a harlot. That harlot was Gomer. Gomer continued to live promiscuously after her marriage to Hosea. They had 3 children together, and she still continued to worship pagan gods and live in sin. In the end, God tells Hosea to go and retrieve his wife. He paid another man to have his wife back. In Hosea 3:3 “[he] told her, ‘you are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” I can imagine that proclamation of love, after everything she had done, seemed bewildering to Gomer. That is the kind of love that can only come from God. In this story Gomer represents Israel, and essentially all sinners. Hosea represents Jesus Christ who paid the price of sin for us sinners. Oh, how He loves us!

If someday my sweet, compassionate daughter introduces me to her real-life Hans, that will be a hard pill to swallow as her mother. But, like my mother before me, I will have to trust that she is following God’s Will in a very trying pursuit. I may ask God why, but I will have hope. We are called to reach out to and love and witness to the “Gomers” of the modern world. Not to condone their behavior, but to encourage them that they can get out.

God loves me, and Josh, and our children, and He knew our entire future way back when Josh and I first met. God loves you, sin and all. And, He knows your future. He knows whether or not you will choose Him. He has paid the price of sin (death!) for you. If you are a follower of Christ, praise God! Now, extend that grace to the next person. If you are not a follower of Christ, God has already paid for you and there is no place you can go that He won’t pursue you.

I encourage you to read Hosea. You won’t be sorry. Also, if you’re interested in a great women’s bible study, I recommend Life Lessons From Women in the Bible by Rhonda Harrington Kelley. This study can be done individually or in a group. God Bless!

–Raye

  

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Breathe

For Momma D. My kindred spirit. Breathe, Just Breathe 

I’m sitting here in the car on my way to Sams Club on Sunday @ 11:28 a.m listening to Breathe by Jonny Diaz when I should be in church praising God. Let’s start at the beginning though….
January 4th 2016 was a promising, sad, and exciting day for us Harris’s. It’s the day we began a new chapter in our life. A chapter of complete and total unknown. A step of faith that would ultimately prove to me how little I actually had in God and how much I really yearned for. My mom, dad, and sister were kind enough to break away from there busy lives to help us. We thank them tremendously for giving us their time. It was terrifically needed. I have to learn to accept that for my life….need. I’m not one to ask for it other than from my parents but it’s obvious to me that that’s how God is going to provide for us right now and that’s ok. I have to accept that no matter how hard I want to work it’s not going to be enough. We will need food stamps. We will need hand outs. We will need faith and it’s ok. I have to tell myself this over and over and over again as I try to sneak a swipe of my snap card at the grocery store for fear that people will see. I fear their judgement. I fear those dreaded words. “They shouldn’t have had four kids.” I didn’t intend for any of these children to be here. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want them because I did but I didn’t intend for their to be multiples. That part was just part of Gods plan for me and I was forced to accept it. 

We were running very late that day, on Jan 4th, and didn’t leave for New Orleans until noon which is another thing about me that I have to accept. I’m adhd and….that’s ok. People who don’t have it don’t know what it’s like. I feel sorry more for my family than for myself. It’s hard to deal with and love a person who has this. I’m a difficult person to love but I know I have a lot of people who do and I’m very grateful for it in particular a Heavenly Father who has told me through Paul that “my grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9)” after asking Him several times to deliver me from it. He hasn’t and He never will. It’s my thorn in the flesh.

Our arrival in New Orleans was bittersweet for me. I wasn’t happy and I didn’t look forward to the next couple of days. I knew that three days later my parents would leave and I would be forced to accept a change that I thought I wanted. All that I have kept thinking about this past year is how much I wanted Gods will for my life. How much I longed to have God lead me down the road He wants. Much like everything else I was impulsive and impatient and didn’t think any of this through. I didn’t stop to think of how stressful or how hard and how faith driven this plan, God has for me, would be. 

It was hard when my parents left that morning on Jan 6th but I kept going and looked ahead to the next adventure. I started work and that was ok. It made me miss my old job and coworkers. In the middle of the work week my school emailed me that two of my classes were being cancelled completely so I needed to find replacements to keep our apartment so I did. This may not seem that big of a deal but it is. I arranged my original schedule so that I could work the maximum amount of hours that I could and it brought me to 28 hours but with this schedule change I’ll only be able to work 24 hours and there was no other way around it which is Gods way of saying trust me. Eek! Wha-? I mean huh? Trust? Come on really? 24 hours a week at $10.60 p/h and you want me to trust you? Well you get the picture. I was stressed to say the least. I started clinching to the love offering given to us before we left Shreveport but I knew inside it would run out eventually. How? How is this going to work? I would like to give you an answer to reveal some great miracle but I can’t. It hasn’t happened and it may not happen but I hold my hope that I am where God wants me and He WILL work it out. Our needs will be met and His plan will be accomplished. 

These past two weeks have been nothing short of trying and faith testing. Our house is a shameful wreck, we have absolutely NO time AT ALL to clean it and our financial stress is daunting. We are away from our loved ones, routine is void, and it’s extremely difficult to find the time alone with God that I so desperately need. I’m never alone at all. I wake up at five o’clock in the morning to be at work at 6 and I usually have a fifteen minute window in there for alone time with Him. We don’t usually get to bed until about 10 and aren’t asleep until after 11. We ALWAYS have a full bed with us….always. It’s stressful. 
This morning we woke up late because we went to bed late again. We made breakfast for the kids and got them dressed. Not an easy task AT ALL. I don’t have enough pages to explain all the hiccups that occur every time we get them dressed but just know that it’s not easy. After we got dressed we finally get in the van at 11:05 and when I saw the time I just threw my hands up and said screw it we aren’t going to church. I was mad, hurt, stressed and drained. We decided to go to Sams Club instead to get diapers and wipes. On our way I heard the lyrics to this song Breathe, as mentioned earlier, and it just struck me like lightening. I understood what God has been trying to tell me these past two weeks. 

“Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life
Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel You say just

(chorus)
Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Third cup of joe just to get me through the day
Wanna make the most of time but I feel it slip away
I wonder if there’s something more to this crazy life
I’m busy, busy, busy, and it’s no surprise to see
That I only have time for me, me, me
There’s gotta be something more to this crazy life
I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear You say just

(chorus)
Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

(bridge)
Is to take it in fill your lungs
The Peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
Let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe

(chorus)
Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe
Just breathe”
I’m not writing this because I need anything. Lol on the contrary I have been given everything I need to survive. Jesus. I’m writing this so that you can find hope in my messy example. I’m laying it out so you can see that all we really need is “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” 
Have a blessed day my beloved friends. 
Your brother in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Joshua Philip
P.S. I have terrible grammar. Sue me. I also want to thank everyone who gave to us. You answered Gods call and contributed to His kingdom. You have no idea what the value is on that. 

To, Rosevine Church of God in Hemphill Texas. Mom, Dad, Nanny, Uncle Joey, Grandma and Grandpa. Uncle Micah and Kristen. Peter and Christie. DeAnne, Mammaw, Daishya and Layne. Our home church The Refuge. Andrew and Cara Westbrook. Joel and Jenny Robinson. Dr Cliff and Becky Estes. Vikki Stevens. Brandy and Justin Presley. Lois and Albert Carnline. Melissa McElwee. Brad and Nichole Campbell. Jennifer Stanfield. Cathy and Bill McLelland. Brett and Brenda McAnn. Diane Mercer. Alex and Ur Flores for the beautiful music. Caleb and Jenni Robison for your faithfulness in leading worship. We thank each and everyone of you for giving to God. Each one of you gave and whatever that was it was enough for God. To simply obey and give is exactly what God calls us to do. That is why I chose to go to New Orleans. I want to obey God and give my entire life to Him after all He gave His for us.