This past weekend I was touched by a story that a pastor shared with our congregation. It’s a story that’s available to us all to read, but the manner in which he told it made it hit home in a bigger way than if I’d simply read it myself.
The story was that of Hosea – a prophet who’d been told to take a prostitute as a wife. The idea may have seemed absurd – a prophet of God…a holy man….take a prostitute as a wife?! For those times, that seemed rather outrageous, but Hosea obeyed. (Why? Because God’s plan is bigger, ultimately…and we can’t see the bigger picture most of the time).
So Hosea took Gomer as his wife and all seemed to be working out in the early stages of marriage. But soon, Gomer returned to her former way of life and left Hosea and their children behind in the process. To cut a long story short, after some time, Hosea comes across a crowd of people who are gathering to buy slaves. One of the slaves on sale turns out to be Gomer. And this is the point at which my heart skips a beat and tears threaten to fill my eyes – Hosea remains steadfast in the knowledge that the person being sold off is not a slave, and is not a prostitute – but rather, she is his wife and the mother of his children. So he ‘buys her back’, and returns her to their home; washes her, places clean clothing on her, and seats her at the dinner table. He then tells his children that this is their mother, and his wife, and they shall not speak of the past and any wrongdoing that’s taken place, but rather, will move forward in love and grace.
I’ve given a very watered-down version of the story really, but what struck me was Hosea’s love for, and commitment to, Gomer (and God, essentially). His protection of her – regardless of anything she did, or even, of anything she could possibly still do.
Unfortunately, I feel that in this day and age, that sort of protection, love, guidance and commitment is very rare. When I heard the pastor speak about this on Sunday, it brought tears to my eyes – the compassion of Hosea towards someone who others would easily have cast aside really touched me. And my heart broke for all those who somehow don’t feel worthy enough to demand this sort of compassion and commitment from others.
And ultimately, we all have the right to demand this because Jesus himself ‘bought us back’, washed us, clothed us with clean clothing, and seated us at the dinner table – telling us that the past is no longer relevant, and we need to move forward into the future with love and grace. This is a concept that I struggle with at times, but it’s one that pounds at the door of my heart.
We have the right to be treated as royalty by others, and ourselves, because that is how He treats us. Our stains and blemishes aren’t supposed to be remembered – not now, not tomorrow, not ever…
Amen to that!! 🙂