The book Redeeming Love has been peeking out at me from my bookshelf for about a month. I have no idea why because there are layers of books on that small shelf and honestly, books cover every surface in our bedroom. Why that one? I ignored it until this morning and then after a big cup of java, I reluctantly picked it up. Why my hesitation? Just one of those times when comfort was more valuable to me than wisdom that stretches me. Please tell me I am not the only one who struggles here?!?!! The plot of the book mirrors the biblical story of Hosea and Gomer- a story about a dedicated and selfless kind of love.
In the book, the character who represents the biblical Gomer is Angel, who was “sold into prostitution as a child and survives by keeping her hatred alive…then she meets Michael Hosea….a man who seeks God in everything. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.”
This is the part of the story where it sounds like the neat, clean, predictable plot where Angel turns from her wild ways and embraces monogamy and godly living. Unfortunately, that is not the story. It goes on, “But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness…..” Big bummer. Not what I was hoping for!
In the book of Hosea in the Bible, Hosea, a godly man, is called by God to marry a prostitute, Gomer. They have children and eventually Gomer leaves him to pursue a reckless life of promiscuity.
Hosea 3:1 says, “Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again,
your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your
Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people,
even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.”
Hosea then obeys God’s call to bring Gomer back home and tend to her needs with loving forgiveness. At this part of the story….my mind says, “HOLD UP! Bring her back? Huh? Ain’t nobody have time or energy for all that!” OK, so there is a peek into my crazy head. Sorry you had to witness it. I know God spoke to Hosea but GEEZ!
Hosea is obedient even when it seems like an unfathomable assignment. I am sure he did not have a crowd around him, encouraging him to marry a prostitute and then go find her and bring her back home when she strays. I bet there were times when he felt alone and confused.
Here is what I have learned through this story. Obeying God is really hard sometimes. Loving the broken. Entering into the lives of others…….HARD. Sometimes what we are called to do sounds absurd to everyone else and we second guess what we are doing and look for a way out. I can imagine that Hosea felt like that- looking for any kind of a loophole to get out of marrying a prostitute…..but he did not let his feelings lead him. He just follows through on what he knows he is supposed to do. We ask ourselves, “How could THAT honor God?” Hosea does not know the big picture at the time but He still walks it out with grace and obedience.
I have friends who love amazingly well. They are the ones reaching out to the lost and the broken Gomers and the Gomers often run when people get too close. Why? Because the change is too much. Pursuing God is too intimate and they feel their issues make them unworthy of God’s love. Hearts are broken like Hosea’s was when Gomer left. I think about Hosea taking on the responsibility of raising the children while Gomer is gone and wondering what in the world he has done. Second guessing. Regret. Questioning. Maybe Hosea did none of these but I would have. I do it in my own life.
When loving people does not turn out the way I think it should, I start asking myself these questions….1. Did I miss God on this one? 2. Why did I waste all that time on someone who did not appreciate it? 3. Why do I do this? I need to focus on ME more- others don’t appreciate my sacrifice.
BUT…..then the book of Hosea slaps me in the face and I stop and see that love has no bounds. I have never been asked to do something as hard as what God called Hosea to do. He was completely abandoned by Gomer and never stopped loving. Forgiving. Sacrificing.
Do you have someone who has walked away from you, God, and others and left casualties of hurt along the way? Or are you the one who has fled because letting God and others close is too scary and leaves you feeling vulnerable?
To the Hoseas…..keep fighting for what is good and right and holy. Stay in the trenches, even when you want to give up. Love recklessly without holding back. You are going to be hurt and misunderstood. Keep fighting. We can cry together when it gets to be too much and rejoice when the prodigal comes home.
To the Gomers……we know it is hard. It hurts. Living life the way you know it is familiar and comfortable. No judgement here. God loves without holding back and you are HIS. When you want to come back, we are here for you. No questions asked. We are not perfect in the way we tried to love you. In fact, we probably fell way short of how we wanted to show Jesus to you…..but we were doing the best we knew how. God’s love is bigger than ours ever will be. Don’t disregard him because the way we love is imperfect. Come home to the Father. He is crazy about you.