Hosea: relentless pursuit//Sarah//VCU

Over the last couple months I have realized something about my heart, well a few things actually, but the first allows the others to follow after. I believe lies about who God is…I believe things about His character and about how He works. In reality they are the polar opposite of truth. They aren’t statements I say aloud, consciously think of or dwell on but they are often reflected in my attitude, thoughts and behavior.

I think He’s not going to fully satisfy my heart.

I think He’s angry with me and He’s going to treat me with a spiteful attitude.

I think He’s going to give up and turn His back on me.

Ouch. To admit these make me cringe. To read them makes me tense up. To confess this way of thinking to the Lord Himself makes me want to run and hide. I hate that I believe these things. I hate that these lies have clouded my thinking. The Spirit of God inside me rises up and reminds my heart that these things are just that, lies. And I don’t think I am alone in believing them.

A few weeks ago I started studying the book of Hosea (**insert praise hands here**). It quickly showed me a mirror into my own life. (I am not sure if you are familiar with it but I highly recommend it, but forewarning: the book will change your life if you let it.) To give a bit of background, Hosea is one of the minor prophets of scripture–which is a fancy way of saying he was a man who spoke the truth about who God is and pointed people back to obedience to Him. The book starts off with God telling Hosea to take a wife of whoredom (a woman of promiscuity and waywardness) and have children with her. Sounds romantic, right? If you continue to read on, you may be able to see the parallel between Hosea and God and Gomer and the Israelites/you/myself. In Hosea 2, God makes this vow-like covenant to the Israelites.376a9a992b18d17353972e4fcf4261e3

“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.”

{Hosea 2:19-20}

From chapter 3 until the end of the book, we read the story of Israel’s rebellion and idolatry and God’s response of wrath and love for them. It’s a dramatic cycle of sin, judgment and restoration, over and over and over. By chapter 6, I’m ready to yell–How dare they turn their back on God? Hellooooo?? Do they not see how much He loves them and cares for them? Why would they make idols of silver and gold when they could have a real relationship with their Maker? Why would they look anywhere else but to Him? And why doesn’t God throw up His hands and walk away?

The Israelites were God’s chosen people. He pursues them so clearly throughout the whole Old Testament. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” {Hosea 6:6}  God wanted their hearts, all their hearts, not their sacrifices. Sin takes over the Israelites and they begin to be apathetic towards Him. My heart aches when I read, “For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces.”  {Hosea 8:14} It aches because I see myself in their idolatry, their selfishness, their apathy, their immorality. How often do we forget our Maker?

Like the Israelites, I so often believe that God alone isn’t enough, without even realizing it. I dwell on the approval of others, affirmation from my new relationship, the feeling of accomplishment when I run enough miles or speak eloquently to my small group girls. Not that those things are bad, but when they become the source of my worth and validation, I rip Jesus off His throne and start making idols made of modern day silver and gold. When we put something above the Lord, our worship goes to something of lesser value. It leads us to sacrificing burnt offerings, such as daily Bible reading just to check it off or attending Cru so you’re not badgered by friends. We offer our works to God instead of our worship. As a result, when I recognize my sin, I fear His wrath. I fear that He will finally get tired of redeeming me. I am scared He won’t be willing to buy me back again and again. I wonder if and when He will finally give up and walk away. This adulterous heart of mine doesn’t deserve such a faithful God.

And yet,

that is not who He is. Even though I don’t deserve Him, He is still faithful. He remains good even when we aren’t. Look back at Hosea 2:19-20 with me. He betroths us in righteousness and justice,
steadfast love and mercy. He betroths us in His faithfulness, then we shall know the Lord. Because of His faithfulness and His righteousness, not my own, He is eager to take us back, despite our idol making and wayward hearts. When I grow in my knowledge of His true character, I see how false my beliefs are about Him. He is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love’. He ‘satisfies the desires of every living thing’ {Psalm 145}.  ‘His going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.’ {Hosea 6:3}.

Through the pages of Hosea I see my story, our story sister, of sin, judgement and restoration. As I read, I recognized their deep need for Jesus, and quickly
my deep need for Jesus. He lived the righteous and idol-less life that you and I can’t. He took the Father’s wrath so that we don’t have to. The sacrifice of His life was sufficient in that when God looks at us, He doesn’t respond in anger or hostility but abounds in love and mercy. Jesus’s death and resurrection makes God’s purchase of us final and complete. Jesus made the restoration and reconciliation fully possible. The only thing that changes is who sits on the throne of our hearts. Our hearts pursue idols of silver and gold, while our Maker pursues the devotion of our hearts. I’ve seen in my own life that it’s exhausting to be tossed to and fro and it’s disappointing to look other places other than Him.

This book has wrecked my heart, in the best way possible, and torn down the lies that I have subconsciously believed and idols I so often build. Jesus is so needed and so sufficient, my friend. He extends us grace when we run away and allow our hearts wander. He is the Ultimate Lover of our hearts and shows us He is because He has paid a high price for them.  In the words of Hosea, “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” {Hosea 12:6} Let us fix our eyes and hearts on Him. Let us tear down the idols that we build. Let us allow scripture to dissolve the lies we believe. Praise God for His relentless pursuit.

 

img_8350Hello sweet friends! I am one of the many Sarahs of this world. Next May I will graduate from VCU with my degree in psychology and minor in religious studies. I am thankful for Cru, running, Jesus, cookie dough and YOU! Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my heart with you and how I have learned that Jesus is always better.

Far Better//Victoria//CNU

I’m engaged. Jesus is still better.

(fill in the blank)

13 days ago I got engaged to a man that I’ve known for 8 years now. His proposal was completely unexpected. He was so diligent in preparing and settinPicTapGo-Image (11)g everything up, and the whole thing went down flawlessly. I felt so loved and special in that moment. This was something I knew would happen this summer, but I was not expecting it so soon! It was probably the most exciting day of my life thus far. I’ve also never seen my dad so excited or teary-eyed (which for a daddy’s little girl, that’s a big deal). Daniel and I have gotten the privilege to know each other for so long, and therefore we’ve been allowed us to see so many neat things and experience great things together. He is faithful, dependable, honest, kind, gentle, and very intelligent. Our relationship has had many trials and many joys. However, we’re only human. We’re broken. We’re sinful. There is only 1 aspect of our relationship that’s perfect; God.

God is holy. Therefore, His will for our lives is good, pleasing, and perfect (Rom 12:2). Lately, His plan for me has been good, really pleasing, and I’d agree it’s perfect! But earlier this year while I tried to walk with my best friends through much deep pain, they would have still said His will was good, pleasing, and perfect.

No matter your individual circumstances, no matter how discontent you are, God is the same. He is the same in the past, present, and future tense. He is still good and so is His will for your life. So where you are right now, it is good, pleasing, and perfect because He is good, pleasing, and perfect.

My relationship with the Lord is better than my relationship with Daniel. The Lord is more faithful. The Lord is more dependable. The Lord is more honest. The Lord is more kind. The Lord is gentler. The Lord is more intelligent. The Lord loves me more. He is always going to be more. He will always exceed our expectations, our desires, and our needs. He is Lord.

Lord, you are holy. You are more than I can comprehend. Thank you for giving me the opportunity of a relationship with you.

Please continually remind me of your will; your good, pleasing, perfect will.

Please show me how to be content in you.

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Hello! My name it’s Victoria Taylor and I wrote the blog above while I sat here on the beach! This week I’m enjoying some rest and relaxation!  It’s been a crazy month of May. I attend Christopher Newport University and plan on graduating in the spring in Psychology, minoring in Biology and Leadership. This summer, I am preparing to marry my (now recent) fiancé, working, and applying to Occupational Therapy graduate schools. I love being outside.  I enjoy hiking. I am a coffee addict. I absolutely love my border collie boys (featured in photo). I love Jesus and am amazed by the way He loves. This semester I learned a lot about grace, and now I’m learning about spiritual disciplines and some theology. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and getting to know me!

At 20//What I Wish I Had Known//Katie

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When I was 20 and in college, they were teaching us to treat dating like a courtship relationship where the boy pursues the girl and the girl shouldn’t be trying to pursue the boy because that’s backwards. A courtship mentality also included the idea that dating shouldn’t happen in a vacuum but in community because people are more likely to be themselves in a community. Sometimes this whole process was called “dating with a purpose” or “dating towards marriage” because they wanted people to realize that when you get involved in dating someone it can be damaging to knit your heart together with someone who you can’t ultimately spend the rest of your life with.
Now there were many pros to this philosophy- it encouraged women who were overly flirtatious to take a step back and not always be pursuing guys and giving them no opportunity to step up and lead in the relationship. It encouraged men who can be prone to passivity to step up and really be intentional with the way they pursue women they want to date. It encouraged people to have a healthy involvement of family and friends in their relationship instead of letting their life begin to revolve around their new special someone.
But there were cons too. Those of us gals who were already shy and never prone to flirt, felt we could barely talk to a guy or he might think we were trying to “pursue them” or be too forward. Some guys felt like since this was “dating with a purpose” that if they didn’t know for sure that they could see themselves marrying a girl then they shouldn’t ask her out at all. It was paralyzing for them. And it made people more prone to seeing a godly relationship have to revolve around a strict set of rules instead of a relationship that is first devoted to them seeking Christ and letting the Spirit guide them in their friendship and their dating.
So I wish I’d known when I was 20 that I didn’t have to get quite so freaked out about all the rules and that I could just trust God and pursue healthy friendships with guys that could turn into something romantic if the Lord led it to.
An article in the Cru book “Fantasy” really helped me readjust my dating philosophy. It’s called “From Fantasy to Reality” by Henry Cloud. You can check it out here: https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/life-and-relationships/dating/from-fantasy-to-reality.html
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Thanks for checking out our little series. We would love to have more of these series in the future–let us know if there are questions or topics you would like us all to chime in on.  //email us at the link above!//  Thanks & love you all.