Monday, December 21, 2009

2010: Part 1

Over the last year, one passage of scripture continually comes into my mind. During prayer, during church, when I wake up, when I go to sleep, when I'm washing my dishes, in conversation, in messages, in music -- it seems to be popping up everywhere.

Then, my first night in our new home, I finally realized why the Lord keeps bringing these verses to my attention.

They're found in Hosea chapter 2, which starts in verse 2 like this...

Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.

Daaaaaang, y'all. He ain't kiddin' around.

The background of this story goes something like this: God instructs Hosea, a prophet, to marry Gomer, a prostitute, as a symbol of God's relationship with Israel, who has been selling herself to her "lovers" (other gods) and committing adultery against God.

It's kind of harsh. Are y'all ready for this? Lets start again at verse 3:

Otherwise 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.

Vengeful much? verses 5-13:

She said, 'I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.'

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
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.
Then she will say,
'I will go back to my husband as 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—
which they used for Baal.

"Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen,
intended to cover her nakedness.

So now I will expose her lewdness
before the eyes of her lovers;
no one will take her out of my hands.

I will stop all her celebrations:
her yearly festivals, her New Moons,
her Sabbath days—all her appointed feasts.

I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,
which she said were her pay from her lovers;
I will make them a thicket,
and wild animals will devour them.

I will punish her for the days
she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,"
declares the LORD.

Can I just be honest here? I have a haaaard time with these verses. This isn't the God I know. The God I know is gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy, and gentle in His discipline. But this God, the one of Hosea, He ain't playin' no games, y'all. This is His bride we're talking about here! He removes all her security, all her earnings. Doesn't He know what she went through -- what she did -- to earn those vineyards? Those fig trees are a part of her. She is more secure than all other women because she has figs and grain and oil of her own... food and goods that she literally sold herself to attain. And now He destroys it all. As if that weren't enough, He strips her down, exposes her in public. He humiliates her in every way possible.

Verse 14:

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her back into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.

I tell you what, I don't like my husband even looking at me after we've had an argument. You mean to tell me that this God who just stripped everything away and completely humiliated her now wants to take her into the dirty, dry, parched desert and whisper sweet nothings into her ear?

But something beautiful happens in that desert. Something lovely and mysterious and supernatural occurs in that dry, dusty, lonely place:

Verse 15:

There I will give her back her vineyards,
and I will make her Valley of [Trouble] a Door of Hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

After everything has been stripped away. Every thing she had acheived. All the things that told her who she was. Her jewelry. Her suggestive wardrobe. Her financial security. Any semblance of who she had been. When every single reminder of the shame and resignation that came with her occupation had been completely demolished. When He had completely destroyed her old identity...

He slayed her with thirst in the desert, and became her water and nourishment.

He removed her foundation, and became a strong chest and a broad shoulder on which she could lean.

He removed the name "lover" from her lips, and became her husband.

Men paid for her body.

He made her priceless.

Men treated her like a whore.

He made her His bride.

How do I know what happened in the desert? How am I certain beyond any doubt that, though He seemed vicious, it was His mercy and unfailing love that lead her into the desert? How can I possibly understand the myserious and beautiful transformation that happened in that place?


I am Gomer.

I have sold myself. For money. For sleep. For a television show. For a nicer car. For a better body. For some personal time. For friendships. For love.

I have sold away pieces of myself time and time again to achieve some semblance of security, of balance, of a life that everyone dreams of.

And it has all, in one way or another, been stripped away.

That, my friends, is what has happened over the past five years.

I have made plans and developed ideas. I have bought property and saved money. I have told myself that, because I had made wise choices, I was secure. And that security was my god. Sure, I was still "married" to the Lord. But He was not my security. I had not acknowledged that He was the one who gave me the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on me the silver and gold. And I used it for myself and to strengthen my sense of security.

But those things were stripped away. One by one, the things in which I had put my trust began to falter and crumble. I realized that the things for which I had sold myself - my time, my energy, my love, my passion - were dwindling away.

Spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically - I was, I am - slayed with thirst.

And it was in that place where I realized. He is my source. He is my strength. He is my foundation. He is my security.

So, here it is, the year of 2010. And would you like to know what I truly believe He has in store for me this year?

Verses 15-16:

There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of [Trouble] a door of hope.
There she will sing 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.'"

In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.

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.


EP said...

Brandy-- Have you ever heard of Andrew Peterson? He has a song called "Hosea" and it is soooo good. You should check it out.

Brandy Thixton said...

Oooo... NO, I haven't heard it, but I am TOTALLY going to check it out. :) Thanks!

Starr said...

Lovely!! I actually had read this about a month ago, and was ministered to by it, but you just really pulled it all together! Love you!

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood