Sometimes it is evident, Lord, that the wandering and unfaithfulness and adultery of Israel all throughout the Old Testament is less about the general sin nature of man (though I know that is part of it) and more about the preserving and record of an example for us as generations to come – so we could look and see and realize how and who we are through a tangible example. No one else was ever going to serve as, and be written down as, this example, because no one else has had the words and knowledge of God describing their inner hearts in a way even they don’t know. We’re just not often that honest with ourselves, to see ourselves as the people of Israel are described, much less to preserve that portrayal of ourselves in historical form so that generations to come can learn and see themselves in us, and in our example. But we are Israel, or at least just like Israel, in modern day equivalents. I am like Israel.
I am like Gomer. I run after other lovers, other pleasures, and only when they cease to satisfy in the same way they did do I turn and think of the Lord. “Oh, maybe I’ll go back and try that again, because actually, He was pretty good.” And He will always be there, He’ll always wait for me to realize that and return – which seems to offer ridiculously tempting freedom to leave without risk, but really gives inexpressibly more reason to stay. And when I do return, it is only to realize again that He is not just good, He is the only source of all good. As I was running after everything else my sustenance, my pleasures, my life in that situation and those moments, was provided by Him. It was of Him and flows from Him – there is truly nothing good in this life without the hand and person and presence of God offering it as such. And then I take that good, that GOLD and offer it to Baals. Forgive me, Lord.
And so the Lord will not allow His name to be profaned, and He desires to allure me again, so He will remove the gifts until all that is left is to be driven into the wilderness and find that really, I was drawn there, not driven, and that comfort to my heart is found there. A door of hope, and a song of youth, a song of innocence which He somehow graciously allows me to sing again, when truly I am so far from innocence. When youth fled a long while ago.
And then, in the wilderness all of a sudden there is this language of betrothal. That metaphor is not uttered lightly, nor by mistake, but exactly for the reason that there is no other human reality that can possibly even begin to put language to the relationship with, and love for, His bride by Christ. God did not pick a human construction and decide to use that to describe His love, He specifically designed and created marriage to serve as a reflection because He knew there needed to be something to , in some tiny fraction, give a picture of His love for us, try to give us an idea of what that is like. And that is why marriage matters so intensely, and why intimacy within marriage matters – because of what it represents, of what we are emanating in the union and the act – Christ Himself. Oh how our culture and our generation has lost sight of that!
What beauty is in that metaphor, in that truth. What a new understanding of not just that I am loved, but how I am loved. I am Gomer. Yet I am loved, in the most intimate of ways, by a husband. Not only a master, not only a father, but a husband. “The groom who gave His life to love His bride.” (Andrew Peterson)
That, and nothing else, is the source of my identity. That, and nothing else, is the source of my joy. That, and nothing else, is the source of my obedience.
I am one loved.