But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. -Hosea 12:6
I’m a runner. I love the feeling of lacing up my running shoes, getting outside, and breathing in the fresh air. I love the freedom of weaving my way through trails and roads, over hills and valleys, wherever my feet can carry me. I even love that oddly satisfying burn you feel at the end of a good long run and sweat dripping down my face. Running requires self-discipline. It gives me a sense of independence and freedom.
Unfortunately, I can also identify myself as a “runner” in my spiritual journey. I talk with God, I write about God, I go to church and youth, serve in the children’s ministry, and I read my Bible. Honestly, I do those things with genuine joy flowing from my love for God. From the outside, it would hardly seem as if I’m running from God. However, my stubborn, independent nature often wants to solve my own problems, and run my own race. Instead of following God’s path, His will for my life, I find myself lost trying to navigate a hopeless path of my own. I like keeping an organized schedule, knowing exactly what I’m doing and when. I’m a logical thinker and problem-solver, and so when presented with a problem, my first instinct is to make a plan of how I’m going to fix it. Whenever an obstacle comes my way, I find myself creating my own way around it, trying to make my own solution. Instead, I know my first step in any problem I face or any path I take should be to turn to God and trust Him.
When I step back, I realize that instead of simply running into my Father’s arms, I run away from Him, trying to figure my life out on my own. God offers His direction. He offers His will, which is good, and pleasing, and perfect. Yet, I run, I chase after my own desires and plans. I look for satisfaction in this world, in my own prideful, fallen plans. God’s heart breaks, just as a father watching his child learn to walk, as I strive and fall. I run, I chase, and I fail, and find myself lost and helpless.
Just like Gomer ran from Hosea…
Despite how far I run, despite how hard I fall, God calls me back. He pleads with me to return. He still chooses me, He still loves me, and He still pursues me. I return, scratched, bruised, and burdened with shame. I look at my sin and scars, and into His perfect loving eyes, and I can’t understand how I’m worthy of His love. I work hard to please God, to earn His favor, to earn His love. And ultimately, I fail again. I get discouraged, and I run away and chase after other loves, and I fail, time and time again. And every time God calls me home.
Just like Hosea welcomed Gomer home time and time again…
I recently read Redeeming Love and studied through the book of Hosea. I had never really dug into the story of Hosea, and what a beautiful journey it was to study through it.
Redeeming Love is a fiction book inspired by the Biblical story of Hosea. It follows the lives of God-fearing Michael Hosea and a prostitute named Angel in California during the Gold Rush of the 1800’s. If you haven’t read it before, go read it. Trust me, you won’t regret it! It’s one of those books that you just lose yourself in and find reality fading as you’re pulled into the story. It brings the beautiful story of Hosea a little closer to home. It’s a painful story. God tells Michael Hosea, a pure, kind, hard working man to marry Angel, a young, broken prostitute. Yet, it’s a story of hope, unconditional love, grace, and redemption.
I simultaneously studied through Hosea, using a She Reads Truth devotion. It filled me with shame as God revealed to me my own sinfulness, yet filled me with hope and awe as He revealed His grace and unfailing love for me. God tells His prophet, Hosea, to marry Gomer, a prostitute, so that their marriage may serve as a tangible metaphor of God and His chosen people, Israel. Gomer runs from Hosea time and time again, giving herself to other lovers. Meanwhile, Hosea’s heart is pierced with betrayal and compassion as He calls her home to Him. This demonstrates how Israel, the very people God rescued from slavery, turn from Him to worship idols. God loves Israel unconditionally, burning with jealousy as they pursue idols, and He calls them home and forgives them time and time again.
I am more like Gomer than I ‘d care to admit. I chase after other loves, my own plans, goals, relationships, and material things, when the greatest lover of all is standing right in front of me desperately calling me back to Him. He welcomes me home, over and over again. God is a jealous God and it fills him with righteous anger when He sees us pursuing other loves. Yet His love is never failing, He pursues us still. God is faithful in the midst of our unfaithfulness. More than anything, He wants to see us return to Him.
So, this is what I have learned through the powerful story of Hosea. I encourage you to dig into the book of Hosea and I highly recommend “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers to bring the story to life. I love seeing God reveal Himself through His word.
Stop running. Return to God. He is calling you home into His grace.