"Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery, in departing from the Lord." Hosea 1:2...."What would you give up for the sake of God's people? If He called you to sacrifice your life - or harder yet, to sacrifice your dreams - would you be able to?.....We're to embrace the joy and pain of being living illustrations of His Kingdom - whatever it costs." Chris Tiegreen
It's so easy to read the "stories" of people in the Bible and be completely removed from what they lived through in their devotion to Him. Certainly the life of Hosea is case in point. Tiegreen says that in whatever dreams one may have as concerns their marriage, becoming the mate of a prostitute would not be among them. No man or woman would dream of joining with a persistently unfaithful wife or husband, yet this is exactly what the Father directed Hosea to do. More, Hosea loved this wife, which made God's way here even more difficult to understand. He led Hosea into a heartbreaking union, fully knowing the cost it would bring to this prophet, a man He deeply loved. How could He do that? How could He ask such of him? He could because He had a much deeper purpose in mind, one that was of greater import than the pain the unfolding of His purpose would bring to Hosea. Through Hosea's sacrificial obedience, the Father would show forth the depth of His love for a rebellious, totally faithless people. John Piper, commenting on this writes, "He knows that his wife is a harlot. That's the meaning of mercy: God is wooing a wife of harlotry." Through the sacrifice of Hosea's obedience and love for his faithless wife, God shows His love and mercy, and His unending grace that woos the hearts of those who have no love for Him. Hosea was willing to be that living illustration of His mercy, grace, and love, and at agonizing personal cost. How willing are we? To what degree of sacrifice will we go?
I know something of broken dreams and surrendered hopes. Though I am no hero of the faith, I think I've experienced something of what Tiegreen asks. I've never gone into any real detail concerning the destruction of my marriage. The overwhelming factor in that was my devotion to Him and the ministry He'd called me to, and the deep conflict that trying to find balance between it and my marriage brought. It was a terrible struggle, to the point that I found myself making compromises that violated deep convictions I held. To continue in this would ultimately, I knew, lead me away from His heart. I couldn't do that. I couldn't abandon Him on any level, so in the end, I was myself abandoned, but not by Him. Not ever. The consequences were terrible, but if faced with that same choice today, I would not choose differently. I could not choose against Him. In the end, only He knows what kind of "illustration" I've been, and for sure it pales in comparison to that of so many others. But I hope it is one of faithfulness. I hope it's an illustration that continues to speak, unseen and unheard but by a few, but certainly by Him.
I think for all of us, to truly live for Him will bring us each to such a place as Hosea. A place where He asks us to lay down our dreams, our hopes, to allow them to lie broken at our feet. All of it in order to show forth, to be living illustrations of some, and together, all of the aspects of His character. When it comes time for us to do so, can we? Will we? How far in that will we go? How great a cost are we willing to pay.....in order to show both His people and the world who this Father and Lord we say we love, is?
The Father seeks to paint a picture of Himself through His people. Too often I've been a poor caricature of Him. Yet still He woos me, and when, in surrender, I say yes to His call and the sacrifice that surely goes with it, I'm able to be His illustration to an unbelieving world. A flawed one for sure, but with each yes to Him, regardless the cost, I, you, we, can be a truer, better, portrait of who He is. He gives these portraits of Himself to the world through you and me. May the strokes of His brush do Him justice....even when those strokes might break the heart of the very ones He loves.