Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Gomer and the Quest for Love

Photo Courtesy of: Tyler Nix

“When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: ‘Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord.’ So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.” ~Hosea 1:2-3

For years, I was caught up in the bounds of legalism. I was a good little Pharisee, to be sure - I followed all the man-made rules, spouted off what I thought was biblical truth but what was really just cultural expectations and traditions, and judged anyone else who did not. All the while, though I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I had a terribly faulty, downright sad view of God. I believed Him to be a rigid taskmaster, someone with His proverbial arms cross across His chest and scowl on his face anytime I slipped up and did something I shouldn’t have. I thought He was displeased with and disappointed in me.

The glorious good news of the gospel is that this is simply never true if we are in Christ. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:1 that despite all the sin issues he still has in his life which he shares about in Romans 7, there is nevertheless “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”. God’s love for His children is unconditional. This is not to say that He does not still discipline His children when needed or that He isn’t saddened when we sin. He absolutely is, for sin always has its consequences and it saddens His father-heart to see His kids go through those consequences. But He is not angry with us or disappointed. After all, He knows we are going to still struggle with sin and slip up and fall! David reminds us of that in the beautiful Psalm that is Psalm 103 - “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust (verses 11-14)”. 

What is so beautiful about this Psalm is that God’s awareness of the strong pull that we sometimes feel towards sin and temptation does not cause Him to be angry with us. In fact, farm from it! It rather causes Him to pity us and to be with us every step of the way, all the while loving and helping us in our struggles. Why? Because His love for us is truly unconditional. 

This is what the amazing story of Hosea and Gomer illustrates for us in a rather powerful way. Hosea was a prophet of God, an upright and God-fearing man. Such a man in our day (as no doubt was the case in his, as well!) would be expected to search for a wife among the God-fearing women at his local church, the missionaries he knows, or those serving at the local Christian soup kitchen ministry, right? Certainly he would be looking for a God-honoring woman to serve the Lord together and partner with in kingdom work throughout the rest of their lives. Surely that is what God Himself would expect, right? 

Well, let’s just say that was definitely not the case for Hosea. God’s plan for him was to have him marry a prostitute. Not only that, but it wasn’t as if this prostitute would even leave her profession following their marriage. No, this prostitute returned again and again and again to her prostitution, rejecting and forsaking Hosea’s love all along the way. Imagine how heart-breaking that must have been for him!

Now imagine that you are Gomer and God is Hosea. You see, that very reason right there is precisely why God called Hosea to marry Gomer in the first place - so that we would know and understand fully the great and insurmountable height of God’s love for us. We sin everyday. On a daily basis we return again and again and again to many of the same old sins we have repeatedly struggled with in the past. We, in so doing, reject in that moment the love and grace and ways of God and exchange them for the ways of the world. But God still loves us. He still comes after us. He still pursues us. And He still always, always wants us.

That is what makes Hosea and Gomer’s story so beautiful and so powerful - because it reveals to us the most amazing love that is ours in the Lord. You see, friend, you never have to search for love again. You never have to try to find it, try to keep it, try to earn it, or try to deserve it. All you have to do is embrace and accept it and live in light of it.

This holiday season, stop your striving. Cease your quest for love, and realize that you already possess a far more perfect love than you could ever hope to find in this world. A love that is yours for the taking in Christ. A love that will never, ever, ever let you go.

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