You may have heard before the quote “love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Or “if you love something you will let it go.” How about “Love yourself enough to take the actions required for your happiness.” Or “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
The media and the postmodern/humanistic world portray love as a relationship between two people that satisfies the happiness of both of them. And once that happiness is gone, or if it changes, then you move on and pursue your happiness elsewhere. I believe this is one of the reasons divorce is so prevalent in our society. Because there is a lie perpetuated by our self-worthy, self-oriented, self-centered society, that your own happiness is above everything else and that you should do anything to pursue it. Will Smith helped spread this lie, and now he is playing in Suicide Squad 😉
I even fell for this lie… And gosh I fell so unbelievably hard it disgusts me every single day. I always saw myself as a man led by my heart but who found a balance with realism and logic. I was more Booth than Bones, but I was still level headed for the most part. I listened to the preachiest of preachers, the towers of God… I listened to Alistair Begg and Adrian Rogers (not to be confused with his Green Bay leading friend of similar name). I listened to the big name Calvary preachers and knew the most philosophical terms there were. I lapped up Ravi Zacharias with zeal and Michael Ramsden like a hungry puppy. My face was covered in philosophy and my now top heavy self was tipping into the bowl.
But I let my heart take the lead rather than my spirit. I let my flesh win. And I let myself be convinced that my own “happiness” was what was best for me. Proverbs 4:23 says “above all else guard your heart, for from it everything else flows.” But I didn’t. I let my heart get seduced and therefore I let myself get seduced. It happened slowly and through much pain and struggle. There were days where I prayed God would rip the situation from me, days where I prayed He would simply take my life, but I was too entrenched and I let everything else get in the way of my love for my wife.
And I let myself believe the lie that my happiness was the most important thing… But God was, and she was…
If I had just looked at Hosea’s example. Poor Hosea. I mean, other than Jesus, I think Hosea is one of the greatest examples of God’s love that there is in the Bible. And rightfully so, that is his purpose. This was God’s plan so that Hosea and Gomer could reflect the relationship between God and Israel. God even tells him to marry a prostitute (whether spiritual or literal, scholars and laymen disagree). I think he marries a real “whore,” not a spiritual one.
Hosea and Gomer have a great start. He adores her and she loves him. And they have a son together, everything is grand. He holds his baby, a proud father, his wife around his arm, and Hosea is living the good life. But then in chapter 2 Hosea starts to notice her increased absence and doubt begins to creep in. Unfortunately, doubt is then confirmed when Gomer is found with child number two. A little girl that he literally calls “unloved.” She is meant to reflect God’s consequences for Israel as the nation strays from it’s first love. Hosea’s agony reflects the agony that God feels as his bride continually strays, as my former wife felt for two years as I strayed. She was Hosea, she lived in agony daily, praying for me to return to her and be done with my ways of sin and self-seeking behavior. I was not self-sacrificing, I was self-serving, and I hurt her heart, like Gomer hurt Hosea’s and Israel hurts God’s.
The pain however doesn’t stop there for poor Hosea. Child number three soon is born and his name is “not my people,” representing both Israel’s alienation from God for their sins and Gomer’s alienation from Hosea (Hosea 2). A child born in his own house that was not his. How truly devastating. Yet Hosea tries. And tries. And tries again. His love, like God’s, is unrelenting. The world says be happy at all costs, but Hosea knew better than that, Hosea remembered what I forgot. It’s not about your own happiness in the moment, it’s about the joy experienced from being in communion with God and in communion with the wife God set aside for you.
Finally, to add the last bit of insult to injury, like any insult had to be added to injury… Gomer leaves Hosea for one of her lovers. He promises her the world and she believes that he has a lasso large enough. He promises her the heavens and she makes him her god. He makes promises that he cannot keep, like Gomer did with Hosea. She leaves him.
I remember the day I left her… I remember the day she found out the first time, and then I remember a year later when I sat her down on the couch, ashamed of the great failure of my sin, struggling with the war, the conflict that I had experienced within myself on a daily basis. I was terrified. I was guilty. I was so ashamed, the head of my heart was permanently bowed down… I felt sick every day. I was tormented by the lies. I just wanted it all to be done, even if it meant I had to leave her. So I sat her down on the couch, and she knew something was wrong. She grabbed my hand like only she could. And she pleaded for me to stay. She begged me. She said she would help, that she would do anything to save us. But I couldn’t. And for the rest of my life that day will live as the day I regret most. There are a lot that I regret during that time, but none compared to that one. Like Gomer and Israel, I made promises that I could not keep to One who loved me more than I could have ever imagined.
Not to lose sight however of what I truly walked away from that day, I also turned my back on God. He placed in my life this beautiful woman who every day looked forward to seeing me and talking to me. And I left it. She was a gift from Him to me, something that He entrusted me to take care of, and I blew it. She was not mine, but He gave me a chance to take care of her. And I didn’t. I left her. She left him. They left HIM. We all left.
But aren’t you glad the Bible is a redemption story? It’s a story of the sins of people throughout history. It’s a narrative of the relationship between a real God and his historic people. And it’s full of wars and sins, it’s brimming with blasphemy and murder and adultery and idol worship and evil and good and the war they secretly wage while life goes on. It’s a disaster story, a pre/post apocalyptic story with world wide flooding and a final battle to end all battles. It’s all of these things, but most of all, it’s a true story of a loving God and the people He writes a story for, simply to redeem them. Above all things great and small, the Bible is a redemption story.
And that’s what Hosea is… After everything. Even after she leaves him. Somehow he receives word that her lover has left her. And God doesn’t tell him to stone her, even though it’s still Old Testament. God doesn’t tell her to embarrass her or even just let her go. No, God tells her to buy his bride back after she is sold into slavery. And Hosea, being a real-life picture of the relationship that God yearns to have with His people, buys her back, he buys his wife back. Just like Jesus. He paid the price to redeem us to God. Hosea paid the price to redeem her to him. God paid the price to redeem us to himself.
And I hope one day my redemption story will be complete. Maybe she’ll buy me back. But like Gomer or Israel, I don’t deserve it, and so I understand if I don’t get it. In the end however, love is a lie. The self-seeking, self-serving, be happy at all costs love that society espouses is the reason marriage has the rate of failure that it does. True love is self-sacrificing and THAT is the love that I believe in. That is the love that is NOT a lie. God’s love is unrelenting. As far as the east is from the west. While we were still sinners. That He gave His only son. Whosoever believes. Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together. By grace. Plans to prosper you and give you hope. Through faith we have access to His grace. I go to prepare a place for you. I am your God and you are My people. That is the Love. He is the Love.