Part of the reason I love blogging is because the Lord gets to remind me of lessons He taught me years ago, that have now come full circle.
I’m about to start reading Hosea with a few friends, and I’m in charge of leading the first two chapters. So I’ve been studying up. And in the midst of my preparation, the Lord reminded me of a blog I wrote on April 22, 2013.
The funny part is, if I’m being completely honest, this same blog would describe the entirety of my 2017 year… aka I truly am a lover like Israel because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time.
But the Lord is so faithful in His patience.
The first time I learned this lesson was back in 2013… and then four years later I needed this same lesson again. And that fact is simply so beautiful. Not that I’m a terrible daughter of the Lord and can’t remember important lessons He’s taught me. But the fact that He patiently reminds us of the things we need over and over and over again until finally, we get it right.
Thankfully, a few things have changed since this blog was written:
- Thanks to 2017 being the year of the Lord ripping out and exposing every inch of my sin both publicly and privately, I am now less blind to my sin and more frequently ask Him to reveal those things to me early and often.
- I have a better understanding of how my sin affects everyone around me. And is not something I take lightly anymore.
- My relationship with the Lord is no longer Him + me + anyone else. He has stripped me of that and restored our relationship to be intimately just the two of us.
- I am way more careful about idolizing His gifts rather than Him now. Sometimes I think I’m too cautious when it comes to hearing His voice, but I trust that He’s protecting me from myself so I don’t start idolizing the gift of prophecy again.
- He has wholeheartedly wooed me back, yet again. Despite 2013 and 2017 being repeats of each other… His love for me never changes. He’s used both situations to grow me and teach me in ways I didn’t think were possible. I’ve already seen the fruit of those lessons and growth in 2018.
Father you are so faithful and good.
For the past month or two, the Lord has been placing in my life: the fall of Adam and Eve, the crucifixion, and God’s relationship with Israel (Hosea chapter 2).
I am the type of person that is completely blind to my sin, but once I recognize and can see/feel the weight of what I’m doing, I am so quick and eager to want to do something about it. But first comes the hardest part for me: understanding. Understanding the hurt I am inflicting because of my sin. Whether on myself or someone else, seeing and understanding that so that I can fight against it takes me the longest.
Well God knows that about me obviously because He created me that way. So for the past few months He’s been trying to show me my sin. And although I’ve seen what He’s been trying to show me, I couldn’t understand the weight of it until really recently.
The fall of Adam and Eve = my sin.
The Crucifixion = reminding me why I have to worship God the Creator, not His blessings and creations.
Hosea = my testimony with God for the past few years.
Something that I’ve learned about my relationship with God is that sometimes I feel like it is not my own. It is not a relationship that God and I created together, just the two of us. Instead, it is a relationship created through other people, me, and God.
I’ve known for a while that God was going to strip me completely of the people around me so that I was left without anything except Him. I’ve known for a while that God wanted to establish an even deeper personal relationship with me than before. When World Race entered the picture, I knew that was when I was going to be stripped of everything, when I was going to be broken down so that I could be built up again stronger with my heart mended in God.
But for the past few weeks, God has continuously hinted to me that He was going to strip me of those things even before I left in September for World Race. I knew He was calling me to let them go now, rather than later, but I wasn’t able to listen because I didn’t necessarily see the weight of it all. And because I couldn’t do it for myself, He did it for me.
So here I am, stripped of everything I was clinging to and not giving over to Him completely. I was trying, but just like a child with a Band-Aid on… the child thinks it will be less painful to slowly peel it away, or just leave it there and rub it back on. But the father knows they are just prolonging the process and instead, he rips it off. So that’s what happened. I was trying to peel it away slowly, sometimes even putting back on the parts I had peeled away already, and my Father knew the healing would come faster if He ripped it. It needed to be ripped from me. So it was.
“I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst. Therefore I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them.”
For years my relationship with God has been like this. I worshiped His creations, the blessings in my life, family, friends, gifts, things working out surprisingly well, the acceptance I found from others etc. They were depictions of God’s goodness. Don’t get me wrong, I tirelessly praised His name because of His good gifts to me. But somewhere along the line my heart wandered. So He would take those things away in some fashion and I would become lost. Sometimes I would chase those things harder, but eventually I would begin thirsting for something more. I began to see that my “lovers” couldn’t satisfy me, so I thirsted for Him instead.
“Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband at first, for then I was better off than now.’ She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine, and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold.”
I always returned to Him. I would come back to Him, but imperfectly and selfishly. My relationship with Him would improve and deepen tremendously because I desired and thirsted for Him. I would worship Him, I would praise Him endlessly, I would share my excitement with others. But without fail the vicious cycle would occur again and I would start drifting towards His gifts to me, losing sight of Him, the one who was actually giving me the gifts. I was still blinded and selfish.
“So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands. I will punish her for the days she went after her lovers, but me she forgot.”
Well He has definitely done that. He has brought what was in the dark into the light and has exposed my filth, my dirt, and my selfishness because I was forgetting Him. In turn, He will punish me with the pain of how my selfishness hurt others and how that causes them to believe I don’t care. That’s a fair punishment.
“But then I will win her back; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. 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.”
This is a beautiful picture of the gospel. The fact that I have been a terrible wife to the Lord, I have been an adulteress to Him because of my other “lovers,” I have strayed from His path for me because of fear, I haven’t listened well to Him because of my blindness… all of these things, I deserve God’s wrath and punishment for. But instead, He wants to win me back. He desires to win my heart back. He desires my broken and fallen heart to be mended back in Him so that He can ruthlessly protect it.
And the way He plans to do that? He will take me gently by the hand and lead me into the wilderness. I will not be thrown, alone, so that I have to fend for myself. Instead, He will lead me gently. He will guide me through a tough uphill battle to return back to Him and His path for me.
And while He is leading me and not abandoning me, He will be speaking tenderly and softly to me. He will be whispering loving, caring, and encouraging words, reminding me that I am precious to Him, that I am worth so much more to Him.
Despite my selfishness, despite the hurt I have inflicted, He desires to win me back. I am faithless while He remains faithful. He has called me by name to be His. He has called me by name to go and spread His light to others. He has called me by name.
And although I’ve strayed, He has walled me up and stripped me bare because He loves me.
He has walled me up and stripped me bare because He is bigger, and more powerful, and more glorious than the sin I’ve lived in.
He has walled me up and stripped me bare because one day I will be able to see how this fit so perfectly into His plan.
The Lord has never failed me when He has broken me.
He has never left me or forsaken me. He has only ever broken me out of love so that my future can be brighter in Him.
This time is no different.
The Band-Aid has been ripped off, my sin has been exposed, the Lord has gently taken my hand and begun to whisper sweetly to me as He guides me back where I belong.
What amazing news.