The last four months have been a whirlwind. I have gone from the darkest valley to the highest peak and I stand amazed at the beauty of it, a beauty only God could orchestrate. I admit I mostly bought the Hosea study pack because it was pretty. That and because of one single verse I discovered a few months ago that piqued my curiosity about this strange and difficult book. Did God arrange for the artist chosen for this particular study to be "just my style"? Maybe. I believe in a God who delights in that sort of thing. God's timing is perfect and in falling love with the book of Hosea, I have learned a bit more of what it means to fall in love with Christ.
My life has been a constant ebb and flow of the cycles of depression and anxiety, loneliness and insecurity. I've loved Jesus since I was a child but I didn't realize I had no idea what it meant to be "in love" with him. And I had no concept of the depth of his love for me.
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her."
Last winter into spring found me wandering far into the wilderness, lost and confused but never alone. Even as I ran from God, I couldn't escape him. He was always there beside me speaking words of comfort and love, protecting me from myself. Little did I know, as the waves of pain and heartache thrashed and battered me, that God was drawing me back to him.
I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
I don't recall how I even found this verse, only that God spoke powerfully to me that spring day as I read those beautiful words. Life-giving, freeing, healing words. When I finally stopped running and turned to face my God, I was stunned with his presence and glory at work in me. I tasted his love and forgiveness in those sweet words and discovered within me a hunger to know him more. Cue She Reads Truth and the Hosea study.
I found She Reads Truth through a blog you might be familiar with - Jones Design Company. In true Holy Spirit fashion, I was prompted to make an impromptu purchase that, little did I know, would change my view of God. I met God years ago but now, oh but now...
"And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me husband...
And I will betroth you to me forever.
I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice,
in steadfast love and in mercy.
I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.
And you shall know the Lord.
And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord."
Hosea 2:16,19-21 (highlights mine)
This study on the beautiful, perplexing book of Hosea introduced me to God as I've never known him. It has taken head knowledge and placed it into the deepest recesses of my heart, where I will ponder and cherish it forever. God brought me to She Reads Truth just as this study was getting ready to begin in perfect God-time, as only he can. He had things he wanted to say to me through his Word and he used the writers of this study to help me understand.
And in another step of perfect God-time, I could not be more excited about the next study entitled "Open Your Bible". You see, the Women's Ministry at our small country church is about to begin studying the new book Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. The same theme popping up in my life at the same time. God is leading and speaking and guiding me, and I am finally ready to listen and to learn. I am hungry for as much of God as my earthly-self can take and I look forward to seeing what God wants to teach me next.
Just one final treasure from this painfully beautiful book...
"How can I give you up...?
How can I hand you over...?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender."