“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
Hosea 2v14,15 NIV
All week I have been praying for the many women who wrote in response to last week’s faltering description of what a marriage looks like when both husband and wife lay all their wants and needs at the foot of the Cross. (Why he's not your Prince Charming)
And all week I’ve been pondering what to write next, waiting in the early stillness to hear that Voice. In light of the cry from so many women whose hearts yearn to know more of what it means to be gathered into that kind of intimacy with God, to have their fears calmed and their needs met, I just cannot blithely blunder into a post about marriage.
So every morning I’ve asked… what should I say, Lord? I barely understand this myself, how can I communicate Your wisdom to women who crave more than concepts? Women who need to know how? Women who are awakening to Your call to come close? Is there a tidy formula I can line out? Steps 1…2…3…?
Instead of giving me words with which to tie a tidy bow around this gift of the gospel and the Cross and the way to both intimacy and dependency, I have felt His leading me to understand His love just for me…
My insistent read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year-in-chronological-order chart placed me in Hosea this week. Three days to whip through 14 chapters. But I can’t do it. Can’t get beyond chapter two and that first bit of chapter three. His words have captivated me, held me in grip of sorrow.
Because I am that woman I have so often self-righteously despised. Hosea’s wife, the promiscuous woman whose wayward wanting of more is an appalling picture of who we become when we refuse to be satisfied by God and God alone.
I know, I know, the story is supposed to be about Israel’s straying from Yahweh. But I cannot help myself. I am her!
And maybe some of you are too.
When you are sad who do you tell first? Your husband-who-is-supposed-to-listen-without-solving-it? Your Facebook friends? Your mom?
When you are worried do you first make lists? Check websites? Go for a run?
Is the measure of your worth tied up in people’s approval? Their kind comments and adulations about something they think you’re good at? Or is your value today dependent on whether or not your husband thinks you're beautiful and tells you- again?
Then maybe, like me, you are in danger of missing the greatest love of all. Maybe He’s right there waiting. Watching as you scurry and fret and work yourself to exhaustion to get it right.
And then this morning He spoke. Not in booming pronouncements or attention getting steps… but in that soft way He has of satisfying the place no one sees. That aching, wanting place.
"I will allure you to the wilderness because I love you... Because when you don’t feel good and nothing makes it better and you can’t get it right and no one is enough… I will bring you in close and fill you full… of Me."
The wilderness, my dear girls, is just where He wants us.
Not because we’re failures.
Not because we’re not as godly as that woman who seems so happy all the time.
And certainly not because we’re not good enough mothers or lovers or friends or worker-outters or whatever it is we think we’re supposed to be right now.
That wilderness is where He wants us because it’s where we hear Him.
He whispers there, outside the cacophony of all the sounds that compete for our attention.
Words of hope.
The kind of real hope that isn’t dependent on us doing more. Or being better. Or getting it right.
“Throughout the Scripture, we see that God sometimes does His most powerful work in wilderness settings. Therefore, if you’re in such a place right now, take heart and take hope. As He did with His people, God has drawn you there in order to humble you and prove you— but also to do you good.” (Jon Courson, Hosea)
Do you know what this means?
That very feeling of failure that nags at you is His whisper to come…
Your inadequacies are your beauty. Because in your weakness, He is so strong that He becomes all you need and when He becomes your everything, you finally become who you really are.
Will you let Him lead you into that wilderness place?
Dare you stop trying to solve it and just listen?
Will you trust Him with the tensions in your story, knowing the real happily-ever-after ending will be worth it even if the right now is not the way you wish it was?
The wilderness never lasts forever, dear ones. He draws you there, speaks tenderly to you, and then causes you to blossom, producing hope in the midst of the “Valley of Achor”, that place of trouble.
And then… then He becomes all that you ever wanted.
“I will make you My wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you Mine,
and you will finally know Me as the Lord.”
Hosea 2v19,20 NLT
Hoping… and praying… that we will grasp this kind of love…
From my heart,
P.S. Are you in that wilderness place, wondering why? Or have you been there in the past and found Him faithful even when life hurts? Will you tell us about it?
Next week I’ve got another story I can hardly wait to share... it's about our first fight... and what I know now that I wish I'd known then... because, dear girls, he's really not your Prince Charming!