If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Hosea, it’s this in a nutshell: God asks Hosea to marry Gomer. Gomer is a prostitute. It’s hard. She’s unfaithful. She runs away from Hosea. But God uses this as a metaphor for Himself and Israel. The Israelites have run away from God. They deserve punishment and wrath, just like Gomer deserves consequences, but God shows mercy. He beckons Israel to return, and He loves them all the same. It goes deeper and there’s a whole lot more. It’s worth a read.
Anyway, there were three big ideas that this study brought to the surface for me. This is long. Please hang in there.
I 1. I am Israel. I run away from God a lot. What do I mean by this? I mean that even though I know God shows up and provides and works slow miracles in my life, there are times where I run from Him and seek attention, approval, comfort, etc. in other things. I’m a recovering approval-addict. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be liked. And sometimes I did some things totally out of character for me to win the approval of others. And sometimes it didn’t really matter. God approves of me just as I am. Period. I don’t need to run from Him to get approval. His approval should be enough. The other thing about running is that sometimes when I’ve run away from God, I’ve made some mistakes. For example, early in my career, as I strove to win approval from coworkers and friends, I did some damage on a couple of credit cards. I thought I needed to wear certain things, eat at certain restaurants, belong to a certain gym, go to certain happy hours, see certain movies, etc. in order to be well-liked. But my budget didn’t allow for it. Eventually, when I realized what a mess I was making, God was there for me. He is always there in the return. The thing I never considered until now though? God is with us as we live out the consequences of our actions. Running towards material things and racking up debt in order to win approval had its consequence- I needed to pay off the debt. Returning to God and saying I’m sorry for not letting His approval be enough was a start. And while He is God and could’ve easily put a bonus check or a winning lottery ticket in my hand to pay off the debt instantly, He didn’t But He was with me as I cleaned up the mess. As I canceled memberships, turned down invitations, made and stuck with a strict budget—He was there through all of it, restoring me. So yes, I’ve run from God before. Many times. But I’ve returned. And now I’ve learned that just because I come back, I don’t get a free pass on consequences, but I do get God, who gets in the mess with me while I clean it up.
2. Hard things. I wrote about this a couple ofweeks ago. God asks us to sometimes do hard, but right things. Lately I’ve been feeling the pull to do the hard thing of loving people that are hard to love. And I said I needed to start with my daughter, because she’s not me and sometimes she is frustrating to love (I’ve never not loved her, just to be clear—I’ve just not loved her as well I could have because I’ve been hard on her and expected her to be exactly like me). Last weekend my husband went out of town to visit his dad and took our son with him. It gave me the chance to love my sweet C exactly how she needed to be loved. It was refreshing and needed for both (though pretending to be My Little Pony unicorns at 7:30am is HARD). God revealed so much about her amazing spirit and personality to me—things I hadn’t really “seen” because of my expectations and frustrations with her. She may have a strong personality, but the girl embodies the whole “dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening” cliché. Here's a snapshot of our weekend:
3. Idols. There are things in my life I tend to idolize and that’s not okay. Idols are anything that we put before God—things we worship instead of Him. During this study God brought it to my attention that I idolize rest. I’m not saying rest is a bad thing. It’s not (I wrote about how sometimes we need it badly here). My idolizing rest was a bad thing. I would obsess over making sure I was getting enough rest. If I felt I didn’t get enough, I let it color my day (“I only got x hours of sleep last night so today is going to stink.”). On days when I didn’t think my rest had been sufficient, I found myself being more negative, living with a short fuse, losing my patience more easily. I’m learning to trust God with the rest He gives me and not obsess over it the way I have for so much of my adult life. I’m praying He redeems the rest I do get. And you know what? He’s been faithful so far. The night I only got about four hours of sleep? Normally that would send me over the edge and into freak out mode, snapping at people and having “woe is me” break down moments. But instead, I went to work the next day, kicked butt with my lesson plan, was patient with my students and my own children, and ended up being rewarded with some pretty solid sleep the next night (which is nice at 32 weeks pregnant). Again, rest is needed and it’s not a bad thing. It was my obsessing over it the way some might obsess over working out or eating healthy (both good things) that was turning it into an idol.
If you’re still reading, thanks! Go check out Hosea. And remember, it’s never too late to return from your running, to do hard, but right things, and to smash your idols.
One Ordinary Mom :-)