"...She decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,"
declares the Lord.
"Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
"In that day," declares the Lord,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master.'"
I love that a bit of the Gospel is in this Old Testament passage. Turning away from the Lord and being swept back up into His grace. The transformation of relationship from servant to bride.
She decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot.
When I was younger, I openly denied God and placed every painful thing in my life upon my own shoulders. I stubbornly bore my own struggles and sadness. I hurt and cried and yet I still forgot who the Lord was. His beauty. His love. His grace. His being.
Any time I've ever put something above my relationship with the Lord, it has become my lover. I am His bride. Idols and priorities I place higher than Christ are lovers that keep me from falling completely in love with Him.
When I was in a place of total defiance from God, instead of leaving me to wallow in my despair, He stepped in. He embraced me into His loving arms and when I rejected His very touch, He pursued my heart.
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.
This summer, I have been shown that every earthly relationship will break and fall short of human expectations. Hearts will be broken. Trials will come over and over again. Yet God's love is enough.
Even when I feel frustrated at the Lord, He has never left me. He continues to allure me with His endless love. He leads me to a place where He is all that's left and then He simply loves me. He whispers words of beauty. He sings songs of joy to my heart. And when I clap my hands over my ears and stubbornly refuse to listen, He holds me close until I do.
The wilderness is rough, but it has purpose. Every wilderness can be turned into a place of restoration. Beauty will rise from the ashes.
There I will give her back her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
This is the Gospel.
That summer before I started high school, after the Lord broke and transformed my heart, I was filled with a fire like I've never had before. I couldn't get enough of the Word. I wanted to learn. I wanted to grow. I wanted everyone to know about the One who had rescued me and made me whole. I was young and childlike in my faith, but I was on fire. This was the time He brought me out of Egypt. As He took me from the wilderness and embraced me into His great love, I rejoiced. I eagerly drank Him in with a thirst stronger than I had ever felt.
As the Lord brings me out of the wilderness, He restores my soul. He replaces my troubles with hope. And I feel invigorated again, more and more excited about what He has done and what He will do. Because of this, I am thankful for the trials. I am thankful for the wilderness. It renews my hope in Him.
"In that day," declares the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.'"
One thing I've learned from the darkest places is that Jesus is not distant. He hears me. He treasures me. He loves me. He is not only my master. He is my father, my friend, my groom. And I am His bride.
This is the Gospel, my friends.
Christ brought me from the wilderness into His love. He transformed my heart. He loves me through my brokenness. And instead of leaving me to my defiance, my pride, and my broken heart, He loves me with an unfailing love.
I am so thankful.
Hosea 2:18-20, 23
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the Lord.
...I will say to those called "Not my people," "You are my people";
and they will say, "You are my God."