Heather has chosen this Scripture from Hosea for this week's theme . . . . and her thoughts on this passage are so touching and inspiring. As I re-read these verses and the rest of Hosea's story, I was reminded of how intensely God's love seeks us, even those of us who have taken a detour in our journey through life. Through the experience of Hosea, God reveals the true depth of deception and depravity that Israel had fallen into. The unfaithfulness of Hosea's wife, used as an analogy for the idolatry of Israel, is heartbreaking. But we see ourselves in many of the sordid details of the "affair." All too often we turn away, run away, are tempted to try out the things that are hidden in the darkness. We ignore God, even if we don't outright defy Him. We walk too close to the edge.
I remember when my older children were small, we were taking a boat tour through the locks at Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. I still have pictures of me, standing by the railing of the boat, peeking over the edge . . . . and on either side of me were my two oldest (probably about 4 and 6 years old), and I am holding on for dear life to the backs of their jackets! Now, they weren't even really very close to the railing, but I was terrified of having them "too close to the edge." I wonder if that is how God feels about us when we walk "too close to the edge" of sin and danger. But the good news is that, even when we do walk that pathway that leads to destruction, at any moment we can turn around and go the other way.
And all the time, God is calling us back to Himself. He is patient, He is gentle, He is persistent. I am reminded of the poem "Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated,
Adown titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat -- and a voice beat
More instant than the Feet -- All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."
These are just the first few lines of this 182 line poem, but I am so haunted by the vision of fleeing from the loving arms of our Heavenly Father, who pursues us even in our defiance. I love the ending . . . . of course, I would! And the words that bring me such comfort and encouragement are in the next to the last sentence - is it possible that the shadows that sometimes seem to surround me, actually the shade of His hand, reaching out to bring me home?
"Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take, Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms.
All which thy child's mistake,
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom though seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."
Thank you Heather for sharing this verse as this week's challenge to remember that He is ever seeking us . . . .no matter how far away we have wander or fled. And He will not rest until He has pursued us and brought us back into his loving arms.