"Speak tenderly to me, Be patient in your love. Speak words of hope, And free me, You are making all things new"
Today I was leading worship, and we truly had a wonderfully intimate time with God, where his presence was tangible in the room. For some reason my mind immediately went to Hosea and the amazing story of him and his wife, Gomer. This love story which dances between the story of Hosea and Gomer, and God and Israel, has so many facets to it, and so many things to be learned from it. Most famous is probably the verse "I will allure her to the desert and speak tenderly to her". There is so much in that one sentence.
The word 'allure', means 'to woo'. It has romantic connotations, and is a word which indicates a deep and passionate love and interest.
Desert is a dry, difficult place to be, with little or no physical refreshment to the body. Hot sun, dry heat, no water, and dangerous conditions, it's not a place to get lost! But for some reason God wants to 'allure' us there.
He has great plans for us once we're there. He wants us to be in a place with no distractions, with no ability to depend on ourselves, and no people around to take our gaze off Him. He wants us to be in a difficult place, because it's only when we're in a difficult place that we can see him plainly. We can hear Him speaking to us. We can hear those tender words of love and affection that He is s0 desperately longing to whisper to our hearts, if we could only hear Him.
What happens when he whispers to us?
We are made new! It is impossible to be spoken to tenderly by the King of the universe, the Maker of all things, the Messiah, Saviour and Lord of all, without being changed. In an instant. This is a rehearsal for eternity! When we see him we will be changed in an instant! But we can begin the process now, if we'll only accept that alluring call into the difficult place.
We are so desperate NOT to enter the desert. We go kicking and screaming, and complain the whole way! But what happens when there is no one there to hear the complaints anymore, and nothing to remind you of what you left behind? You forget what was so 'great' about your life, and realise that most of it is plastic, and worthless, and you couldn't probably do without it!
When you're in the desert, you really deal with yourself. You realise what idols have been on your heart all along, which you hadn't even seen. You hear the way you talk which you may not have noticed before. You realise the way you've been looking at others, or the way you've been hoping others will see you. You see what's become your standard for life are so far away from what God's standards for life are. It's only when you're in a place where it's all taken away, that you realise non of it matters, and most of it was wrong.
You are truly free to see.
It's at this point that God gently whispers those words of hope, those words of truth, those words of love which set you free from all that bound you before, and makes all things new within you.
It's in the desert that we are most deeply refreshed, renewed and satisfied by Him. I love how God makes the places we most dread going to, the most incredible places of restoration.
I don't know about you, but I'd quite like to live in the desert.