I began reading the book of Hosea this week. I couldn't help but think that this was not how Hosea had pictured his life would turn out. What young man dreams about growing up and marrying a prostitute? Who wants to love someone who will toss that love aside lightly time after time? Why would one run after an adulterous and unfaithful partner and take them back? If God had posted this assignment on http://www.monster.com/ would you have signed up for it? Yes, please, pick me! I want to be used and rejected and hurt in a relationship. Surely, anyone knows that these are just not good boundaries. This kind of depraved and uncivil behaviour is more than enough reason for divorce. And it seems to be a waste of a perfectly good man. Surely he could have married a beautiful girl who loved him dearly, appreciated his dedication and good character, and returned his affection. Isn't that what each of us wants? Isn't that what we deserve if we live right?
And yet, God invited him to marry a whore. And Hosea did it. Why? I believe that he recognised the opportunity that God was presenting to him. It was an invitation to so much more. God was saying, "I am asking you to act like me, to love like me, to be a picture of my uncontainable and extravagant attitude towards you. Where everyone else would walk away, I pursue. I make you lovely and lovable by my love. You are desirable because I desire you, not because of anything you are or do. No one knows this kind of love, it is foreign to people. Will you show them? Will you live it out? Come, work with me on this masterpiece of love."
I believe that at any given moment, we are either whores or lovers. We are takers or givers. We either seek to please ourselves or we please another. I am on a journey to pursue less of my own desires and chase more wholeheartedly after those things that God loves. And most of those things are actually people just like me whose lovability exists mainly in the truth that God loves them.
We live in a world awash in love stories. Most of them are lies. They are not love stories at all - they are lust stories, sex-fantasy stories, domination stories. From the cradle we are fed on lies about love.... Hosea is the prophet of love, but not love as we imagine or fantasize it.... It is an astonishing story: a prophet commanded to marry a common whore and have children with her. It is an even more astonishing message: God loves us in just this way - goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love. - Eugene Peterson in the introduction to Hosea, The Message
This is a fire hydrant on the street in front of my place.