Whores. Idols. Love. Rain.

I wrote my first song when I was 17.
Inspired by the story of Hosea marrying a whore because God told him too, and then taking her back time and again.

A bit of it went…

“God chose his bride.
She made mistakes.
And as she stood there looking out among the crowd,
her head hung low, her body ached,
when a voice she knew rang out strong and loud…
‘I love you. I’ll claim you. And I’ll pay any price that they will ask.
I missed you. I’ll never leave you. And I am so very glad to have you back.'”

A few weeks ago I clicked along cobblestone streets and wound into a dimly lit restaurant to join friends for dinner.  Over Oysters Rockefeller and a luscious wine flight, the depth of the soul sitting across the table exhorted me.  She responded to my straining to hear from God with this instruction: “Listen for themes.”

Within a swirl of a few days, I sat at another dinner, this time across from a very-almost stranger that God had asked to drive to a different state just to meet with me. She’d said no until she said yes and we skipped past simple pleasantries quite quickly.
Like a firehose, she spewed powerful words, powerful imagery, powerful emotion, powerful story.
When she heard, through tears, my not-nearly-as-eloquent story of now, she listened and heard and was quick to speak as God was quick to lay what to say on her heart.
Hosea’s story came up.

The idea of loving someone who doesn’t choose you.
The idea of loving someone that doesn’t choose you might teach us how to love in the way God wants us to, the way He loves us.

Last night I lit candles that smelled like mahogany and teakwood and cinnamon and dumped even more cinnamon on dozens of cookies as I pulled them out of the oven.
I fluffed the pillows and then did that decorator move of karate chopping them in the middle to form the perfect peaks that almost no one I’d invited over would care about.
I pulled a whistling teakettle off the stove to pour over bags of hazelnut tea, and a bit after seven o’clock the bodies, the souls, that are forming my brand new house church sat snuggled on the couch or perched on the floor, ready to read through our text and talk and get to know each other since in many many ways we are still strangers.

I wiggled around inside while hopefully leader-worthy words tumbled out of my mouth.
I knew what was coming.
I had to share my testimony.
“Had to share” in the sense that we’d told everyone they’d have to share their own, with the goal of being ‘known’, but that we as leaders would go first.
We’d go first because we were the ones championing this idea of authenticity, of the importance of story, of the heart of God being that we really do need each other.
So, my partner had shared two weeks before and I’d shirked out of it last week because I just didn’t want to tell the truth.

The truth is heavy.  The truth is tearful.  The truth is so far from fun.
The truth was making me nervous.
With a blanket stuffed into my balled up fists and my eyes flying around at each face without landing too long on any one set of eyes, I told the truth.
I hated it.
It wasn’t cathartic, I didn’t feel better, I just did it.

And the truth right now was that my testimony has wound into a season of a heavy yoke.
There is hard, hard work to be done.
It is tough business destroying idols.
It isn’t easy becoming who we were meant to be.
It is exhausting battling a devil who’s made it his job to outsmart, outstep, and outfight you.

My chest was tight and my tears were dripping in fat drops off my chin.
My eyeliner was smudged and my voice cracked. A lot.

I wiggled around some more after it was over and we all shared prayer requests.  My partner prayed over me while a new friend came and shoved himself right by my side and put his arm around me while they prayed.
I hated it.
Needed it, but hated it.

I much prefer to be the one praying, to be the one shoving myself into people’s lives and hearts and spaces, to be the one wrapping my arms around them.

After everyone stole a few heavily cinnamoned cookies to take home and trickled out the door, one newcomer stuck around and with great big eyes and lots of fast words, asked if she could pray again.
I warned her that that meant I would cry again.

She said she could handle it.

So she prayed.
And I cried.

And she prayed hard. And LOUD. And used words and begged for things that I’ve only prayed for alone.  It was good.
It made me uncomfortable, but it was good.

And afterward, she opened those great big eyes and put words to thoughts I haven’t been able to yet, and somewhere in her words she mentioned him again-
And I shrieked.
Like a tiny cartoon mouse.

Because there was a theme.
And that was God talking.
And in His goodness, He was pointing me to a lesson, to His love from all the way back to when His heart tore over Israel.

So today I rolled up my favorite jeans and threw up my very dirty hair and curled into a new sweater that already has forever-favorite potential and then tucked into a wooden corner of a coffee shop where the baristas are bearded and bow-tied.  (You might’ve heard of it. Started somewhere in Seattle.)
I read through all fourteen chapters of Hosea.

And damn it if I didn’t wiggle some more.
And cry some more.
And almost shriek.

Because in this season of heavy, and hard, and heartbroken… while God has been loud about His hatred of my idols, a hatred I heard even louder as I read His rage against Israel today, I haven’t really injected into this story, into this season, the loudness of His love.
The loudness of His compassion.
The loudness of His good.
The loudness of His total provision.

Yes He angers when I chose (and choose) the ‘good idols’ of relationship, marriage, motherhood, sex, and fantasy over His hand, His promise, His presence, His now.

“You must acknowledge no God but me, for there is no other savior.  I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land.  But when you had eaten and were satisfied you became proud and forgot me. … I will tear out your heart.” Hosea 13:4-8

I became proud. I forgot him. And He did tear my heart out.

But He also desires our good, and our good is rarely stuffed full of stuff.
Our good  He desires is stuffed full of His holiness.
He desires us whole, BECAUSE THAT IS HOW HE MADE US.

“Come let us return to the Lord.  He has torn us to pieces ; now He will heal us. He has injured us, now He will bandage our wounds. In just a short time He will restore us, so that we may live in His presence. Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him.  He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn, or as the coming of rains in early spring. Hosea 6:1-3

(As I typed those VERY WORDS, Kim Walker skipped onto my Pandora and is crying out “He’ll come like the rain! He’ll come like the rain! … I know the rain is coming, I know the rain is coming. I believe Jesus. You are mighty to save. I believe. I believe You are pouring out. IT’S GOING TO RAIN. So let it rain, let it rain, LET IT RAIN.)
Oh yes indeed He speaks in themes.

I am the whore who pursued other lovers, other loves.
He has taken me back as His own.
He has fought, is fighting, will fight for my heart… for yours.

And that love that can feel so heavy, so much like anger because of it’s righteousness, that heat of His selfish love will be tempered with goodness.  That heat will be cooled with the rain of Him.

The hurt will wash out as He rains.
The ache will dissolve as the muscle fibers of our idol-free hearts repair and restore.

We are being bought back, we are what He wants, we are what He’s always wanted… BECAUSE HE MADE US.
He wants our whole attention, our whole hearts, our whole selves, our whole love, our whole. He wants our wholeness for our sake and for His own.
He wants His creation in the perfection of it’s design.
He wants us even when we don’t want Him.
He wants me to learn what it is to love that way, but He also wants me to learn the way of His love.
(Hence the hundreds of verses tucked between Daniel and Joel.)

That’s the theme that’s settling in with me, wrapped in this new sweater, tucked away in the corner.
Now it’s time to go love loud, and time to get loved loud.
I could almost blush at His desire for us.
My heart still hurts, but open heart surgery is quite the ordeal, and it’s bound to hurt for awhile.
Now, if only that ache would begin to remind me of the love and not the loss.

How quickly I forgot those words from my teenage journal… how very real they feel in today.

“I love you. I’ll claim you. And I’ll pay any price that they will ask.
I missed you. I’ll never leave you. And I am so very glad to have you back.”

rain 2

One Response

  1. Thank you for writing this today. I needed to read it. I love you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: