Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Servant and the Sinner

It is uncommon to find ourselves kneeling.  O, perhaps we will do it in church where the tradition of humble appearance is eulogized.  But it is uncommon to find our self kneeling.  Stepping lower, it is all the more uncommon to find our self kneeling as a humble response to recognition of a companion’s.. .or an enemy’s… .intrinsic value and exaltation.  Traditionally, the act of lowering can be passed off as an act of doing what Jesus would do.  It is acted out of imitation and sometimes devoid of thoughtfulness or recognition.  With Hosea as our broken example and with Christ as our perfect Teacher, the act of lowering self is not revealed as an act of imitation or piety… .it is an act of berakah
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all,” Mark 10:43-44.  
Matthew 20:20-28.  A protective mother is worried about this son and that son’s position in the Davidic kingdom that will come with Yahweh’s power and overthrow the arm of Rome.  May they sit on your right and your left?  These two are good sons and faithful followers.  Zealous for righteousness and kneeling at every appointed time of prayer.  It is not for me to say, says He, those places go to whomever my Father chooses.  Pause.  Do you want to be great in the coming kingdom? He asks, certainly you may!  Become a slave to the welfare of everyone else.  Exalt all others above your self.  Irony floats about the room.  If any of these followers want to be great, they have already forfeit the heart of a servant.  If they want to be great, they cannot serve.  They must forget greatness….
…And remember the eyes that they look up and into.  Someone else got their feet dirty today.  Someone else, walking through the lively streets of humanity, needs all signs of animosity removed.  The servant listens to the aches and pains of swollen feet and bruised emotions.  He settles Himself in for a long evening of lament.  He talks a little.  Every word and act is intentionally restorative.  “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain,” Isaiah 40:4.  He is washing… .hearts.  
The young woman tells Him of her mother and father… .her abandonment… .her hatred of Yahweh… .her choice to sin… .her enslaving prostitution.   Now she feels sickly and unsightly.  The servant, her spouse, swirls the filthy bowl of salt water with the towel.  He lifts and wrings and releases a torrent of blackened ocean.  There is a tempest of jealousy brewing within.  Woo, says wisdom, woo…  The servant applies the clothe and listens until she finishes the battle cry of her anger and grief.
The servant whispers his wooing in tones and melody.  With variations of agony, soft jealousy and desire.  The heart of the woman blushes, the valley is elated by an inclination that this hard soul is still loved… .by a spouse.  The servant implores, Here am I, have me.  Berakah.  I am your gift.  I am your faithful servant.  The mountains become uncomfortable.  Who could insist on exaltation, on greed or vengeance in the midst of this?  She breaths.  Choices…. .Gomer has choices.
It is the story of the servant and the sinner.  One and the same, I suppose.  Servants were once sinners who became servants to seek and serve sinners.  Hmmm…  Berakah.  The very essence of blessing is to offer oneself as a gift in recognition of the intrinsic value and worth of the one you kneel before.  No false piety here.  It is to listen and speak like a spouse seeking relational salvation.  Sinners turning their hearts around to implore on bended knee like faithful spouses, serving the welfare of all who recline at the table… .even those who would betray us…
It is the story of the servant and the sinner.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Berakah

He twisted the folded towel into a small firm knot.  The water puckered in warm salty ripples around his fingers.  He parted the waters and resurrected a sopping grey clothe.  He pulled and wrung, it did not wring itself.  The servant lifted a left foot and cleared away a full days grime from its sweaty, stinky flesh.  Callouses were softened.  Miniscule sharp shards of rock removed.  All things painful and unbecoming.  The servant and the clothe dispelled the animosity of another day.
Berakah.  The bowl was shuffled noisily to the next house-guest.  Servants always hope for small dinner parties….
Berakah.  A gift.  A young woman observed from the far corner of the room.  She was tastefully ornamented and paraded a costly slice of Tyrian purple about her waste - the remnant testimony of more foolish days.  She was known to favor raisin cakes.
Berakah.  A gift.  On bended knee. The servant looked up.  Smiled.  Awkward, and he was enjoying it.  The woman across the room smiled.  She was enjoying this too.  A twisted swoosh expelled discolored liquid from the clothe and expediated the arrival of a fresh bowl.  
Berakah.  A gift. On bended knee.  Of equal value.  The servant immersed both hands.  Clean again, but only for a while.  He wadded the clothe and then spread it over another foot.  So many guests today.  Lives.  People.  The youth shuddered as the clothe and hand swam over his right arch.  Ticklish.  James shifted his shoulder and slouched.  Lower.  So awkward.  The woman who favored raisin cakes concealed her humorous thoughts.  
Berakah.  A gift.  On bended knee.  Of equal value.  To the life of the receiver.  The next man widened and winced his expression.   A tear?  He blew out cool humility.  The water was poured, still mostly clean, over both feet.  They were lifted over and then into the bowl.  All the way in.  All the way.  The whole thing.  Maybe the water should just be poured all over his dirtied humanity.  Maybe he was so filthy it should all be cleaned!
No, said the servant, this is enough.  He scrubbed mud from the left inside ankle.  He had taken a bath, correct?  Yes. Then he was clean.  Just removing the animosity of another day walking through lively streets of humanity.  
But this was unacceptable, insisted the man.  The servant was confused.  He looked around the room at the puzzled faces.  Household servants clean dinner guests feet everyday!  “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Matthew 20:28.  Like a husband…. He looked up at the tawny fisherman, “If I do not wash you, you have no share in me,” John 13:8.  
If I do not bow on my knees and offer you my life as a gift of equal value to your own, we are not one… .Berakah… .take the gift.    The woman who favored raisin cakes watched with her eyes.  The fisherman’s eyes moved across the offering.  He wondered.  What was this gift?  He did not really know.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” John 13:12.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So He Paid the Wages...

The Ashteroth alter plumed with purple clouds of incense to carry the human senses into ecstasy.  A robust and brightly painted Gomer sprawled beneath the sacred tree stemming up from dark soil and praying for fertile miracles.  Baal, Baal!  Lord, Lord!  Possessor, Possessor!  Dominate and detailed in its husbandry.  The baals of Canaan wanted all forms of sensuous lust to encourage the fertility of earthen dust.  Ashteroth spread her vanities to the east wind.. .Baal, Baal!
Possessor or Lord.  The term “baal” was a title, an appendage to a name, a designation that one entity or being resided and lorded over another.  Was Gomer to be lorded?  To be dominated?  To be used?  Here lay the carcasses of humanity.  Both male and female lingering in an odd state of ecstasy that rendered them defiled and used, controlled by the senses… .lorded over by dominate deities of earthen soil.  These deities pronounced themselves keepers of mankind’s ability to survive and mankind’s ability to survive therefore depended upon their slavery to adulterous senses….
Hosea hesitated on the open highway.  His limbs shook.  His heart pounded in his ears.  Sweat poured underneath his well trimmed beard; it puddled between his fingers in valleys and stuck to the short black hairs of his shins.  The taupe linen cloak enshrouded his figure and face.  No one, he hoped, would recognize the eyes peering over the gauzy froth he mounded around his forehead and mouth.  No one, he hoped.
“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal’,” Hosea 2:16.
The husband shook as he drew nearer the mound of smoldering incense.  Incessantly, he fumbled the package of small cakes tucked beneath his right arm.  The pace slowed.  The air swooned.  The arid breeze waved six inches before his vision.  It murmured.  Muttered.  He moved backward to the floating chant of natural highs.  Hosea let his feet drop and drove his heels into the road to keep balance.  He winced hard to force tear flow to his reddening eyes.  She was lulling beneath the Ashtoreth; sweetly almost like an ignorant child.  
The raisin cakes were her favorite.  The very same delicacy enjoyed at festivals of the baals.  A funny thought to bring her these.  Proof, I suppose, that everything bad is good for you in some way.  Or, perhaps I should say, everything enjoyable can be degraded.  He made the cakes with prayer.  I mean, Hosea kneaded and pressed and shaped and baked the little cakes with mouthfuls of blessing prayers pouring out of his bothered rendezvous with Divine pathos.  The prayers went up, the cakes went in and Hosea went searching for one he loved.  Gifts for Gomer and fifteen silver shekels and nine bushels of barley for the baalish priest hiding around the corner… .the price for a prostitute.
And Hosea said to the woman under the tree, after he had conspicuously paid the prostitute wage, “You must dwell as mine for many days.  You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you,” Hosea 3:3.
Like a dweller “so will I also be to you”.  Like one bought at a price “so will I also be to you”.  Like one belonging to another - to you - “so will I also be to you”.  Like I am yours as you are mine “so will I also be to you”.  Like a husband….
Purchased.  Paid for.  Just a prostitute.  A slave to this religiously sensual pattern of sin.  Purchased.  Paid for.  Just like the prostitute she was.  A funny thought that when paying it he said “so will I also be to you”.  Purchased.  Paid for.  Like a… No, not like a prostitute.  Like a Lover.  A Husband.  This was not baalish.  Not a reckless, feverish, manipulative, controlling possession.  “…so will I also be to you” like one purchased with love.  With pathos and compassion, dwell with me, prays the prophet.  He paid the wages for a prostitute and offered the remainder of himself for a wife.  He was like a Husband.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To Study and To Bless

“Ephraim has hired lovers,” Hosea 9:9.  Ephraim paid wages to consume a regular source of edification.  Impersonal exchange yet wrought with human emotion and ecstatic elements.  They got what they felt they needed at the time.  But who was fit to bless?  Who could love a neighbor?  And who, save Hosea, had truly invested that which is required to attain vital resources of relationship?  Who was fit to be a lover towards God and mankind?
A friend of mine expressed it so well.  I caught her thought in the middle of a long conversation.  She said, “I used to read the Bible only to get personally edified.”  Give it a moment to sink in.  Most of us would find nothing wrong with this.  She was floundering, however, on the brink of her own obvious lack.  She was struck with the deficiency in her past approach to Christiandom.  All that represented Christianity, it’s sacred text and sacred buildings, had been a continual source of personal edification.  The Church had been her passionate helper, preaching the co-dependent necessity of this edification.  The edifice and the text sacredly exist solely for the purpose of personal edification.   Somehow the thrust of faith is to suck as much edification from the Divine as possible.
I fear someone will accuse me of suggesting we do not need the Scriptures or communal fellowship.  I assure you that I am saying quite the opposite.  I am not questioning whether or not they are needed but what we perceive they are needed forHave they become our hired lovers?   Naturally they are an integral part of spiritual health.  Edification in Scriptural passage and communal fellowship is a blessed necessity for survival.  We need sustaining life from the Divine.  Yet, I ask, is edification defined as my own mouth sucking in resource?  Is this edification?  I suck and slurp and strain and consume some more?  This is mature edification defined… .truly?
God, please speak to me!  Bless me!  Give me… .give me, give me?
So, I asked my friend, after she had made the profound observation that seeking out her Scriptures to receive personal edification was not the great call of Christianity, I asked her this: How would your husband feel if he walked into this home each day and you responded by exclaiming, begging and pleading, “O, please speak to me!  Give me a word today!  Bless me!  Show me your powers!”?  You have perhaps perceived my point.  This does not seem to be the proper approach to building a marriage of mutual care, respect and joys.  
I have pondered this marital, Biblical and spiritual catastrophe for some time.  Christianity has become a source of personal edification… .and edification only.  My God and His prophet of pathos stand in our Valleys of Trouble and rend their hearts.  We have not inquired much after their heart breaking cause.  What do they want from us?  
Speak to me!  Give me a word!  Bless me!  Show me Your powers!  “To me they cry.  My God, we - Israel - know you,” Hosea 7:2.  
Israel and I are liars at best in my soliloquies of love.  We do not know Him nor do we love Him!  We have not studied Him enough to do so.  I have not looked deeply into those beautiful eyes, have not held those hands and purposely engaged the cause of this heart.  I have not drown myself in the Divine pathos.  To feel what He feels.  See what He sees.  Suffer what He suffers.  I have not given this life for His life.
I am altered by my own understanding.  I do know how to love, I simply have not done it.  If I were honest and looked into the eyes of my God or my spouse, I know that I ought to study so that I can blessTo study and to bless.  Can you find a deeper relational call than this?  I cannot.  It appears that my life-long mission is to study the heart of my God so that, informed, I will know how to bless it.  This edification of mutual respect, satisfaction and joys is so much less about my straining to consume a necessary resource… .it is about my becoming resourceful in my blessing.  I become a studier.  I am edified, not from my undisciplined consumption, but by my purposeful study.  And I use that edification to bless God and neighbor.
The edifice and the text, the Divine revelation and human community of faith are less my source of survival… .a hired lover I run to for my fill of words, blessing and power.  They have become my opportunity to see and perceive, to study and be altered by obtained knowledge, to engage causes, like-mindedness, lament and suffering.  To be a blessing onto because I have truly come to know.  Divinity is a place I go to look into the matter of His heart and seek out a way to honor, bless and keep it.  Holy Matrimony has led me through these solemn vows… .Selah…
“And now I ask you, dear lady…” dear Gomer, dear Israel, dear Christian.. “-not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning - that we may love one another.  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it,” 2 John 5-6.  Study.  Study the Divine heart, ponder its ways, apply them as a blessing returned to the Divine heart.  Study your neighbor, ponder their ways, apply your knowledge of God and mankind to your purposeful act of blessing…. .for the edification and salvation of their souls.  Study to bless.  Love out of a studied commandment.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Unattended

“Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples.  Ephraim is a cake not turned.  Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not;  gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not.  The pride of Israel testifies to his face, yet they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him, for all of this,” Hosea 7:8-10.
Hosea speaks in the metaphorical terms of an agricultural farmer and a baker (Hosea 7) and perhaps this is what he was.  A man who tilled soil and turned bread in the oven.  Perhaps there were olive groves or wheat fields.  Maybe barley?  Sunkissed grapes may have lined his fields in viney rows awaiting removal by patient hands to lay out their ripeness underneath the governor of the afternoon sky until parched and dried, sweetened and shriveled and tucked into well kneaded dough prepared for the heat of an oven.  There, this delectable commodity rose into a raisin cake.  Buyers did not always enjoy Hosea’s bakery labors but toted them off to feed the fires of the baals (Hosea 3:1).  And the fires of their consumption…
Hosea comprehended the heat of Israelite passions in the cultic spheres of influence.  They were mesmerized and carried off.  “Ephraim is like a dove, silly and without sense, calling to Egypt, going to Assyria…” Hosea 7:11.
Wait, cries the prophet, Yahweh has good counsel; Yahweh has good sense!  And then he watches the cake bake only half way… .the senseless dove squawk and flap about.  Israel is only partly able.  Only partly wise.  Israel desperately needs tending…
A wise farmer tills his soil and inspects his produce.  A good baker watches and turns his cake.  The human heart needs tending.  And Yahweh is sufficiently attentive.  Moreso than we usually perceive.  “…that the members may have the same care for one another,” 1 Corinthians 12:25.  
I have pulled this half verse out of its context in 1 Corinthians and planted it in Hosea.  Something strikes me as absolutely necessary about this.  God has invested the full power of attentiveness in the hearts of His people so that mutual care will exist among them.  The cake is baked on both sides.  Good counsel and good sense are shed abroad in our communal hearts.  Indulge my thought for a moment…
Equity florishes in Divinity’s Constitution.  The human situation will never express its fullness.  We will never reach, on social, national or global levels, the degree of equity that God personally entertains.  In His world, the captives are freed from their unjust captivity, the poor are well fed and the lame always leap.  Yahweh is fully attentive.  He runs His own fingers through the soil and lingers over the produce to inspect with His own perceptive eyes.  He passes by the oven at regular intervals and carefully turns the cake; it is evenly baked.  God is attentive.
Yet, the “same care” is quoted within the context of “members” and “one another”.  This senseless dove known as Us is supposed to manifest Divinities watchful eye and careful hand.  We are to be attentive.  And attentive so that the cake is not half baked.  We are to pay attention to His thoughts on communal equity.  
Perhaps the term equity only inspires our capitalistic culture to think in terms of dollars and cents, therefore, I will use some other words: mutuality, equality and respect.  I will put a couple together to create the phrase “mutual respect”.  And we will end with this word construction.  While God was attentively pursuing the proper balance of Israelite society; while He was watching over it with faith and patience to be certain that none gathered more commodity than they needed and none suffered any lack, Israel was individualistically looking to puff up their side of the cake.  A silly dove sought his or her own direction.  Ephraim (another title for Israel) was thrown to the East Wind in all directions seeking security and advancement.  There was no concern for mutual care or respect.  There was no equity.  God and man suffered with lack of mutual concern for the others welfare.
But there was equity between Yahweh and His prophet of pathos.  These two fellowshipped within the other’s cause… .they painfully lingered in mutual care and sympathy…
God, teach us to be equally attentive…  
“For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.  The standing grain has no head; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it.  Israel is swallowed up; already they are among the nations as a useless vessel.  For they have gone up to Assyria, a wild donkey wandering alone…” Hosea 3:7-9.

Friday, March 4, 2011

They Love Me and Leave Me

I am the Pretty Girl.  My features are often coveted.  My figure studied by many a female compared it to their own.  I am the Smart Girl.  I boast the Dean’s List with a 4-point grade average at University level.  My teachers and professors take delight in reading my papers and correcting my work.  I am the Talented Girl.  My vocals are good enough to sweeten the atmosphere; my eyes capable of capturing pictorial moments with camera, pencil and paint; my fingers rhythmic enough to persuade the guitar and tambourine; and, my mind sharp enough to design poetry, song, narrative and blog.  I am absolutely astonished at the degree to which these magnificent attributes have caused me so much grief; not because of the numerous possibilities they encourage, but, because of the relational inversion they create.  I find that I have many suitors but few lovers….
Educational halls, shopping malls, extended family get-togethers and corporate church gatherings.  In each place I am singled out and responded to, for the most part, as a result of these distinctions.  I receive flattery on the hinge of jealousy.  Truly, I meet with few hearts.  My quality investments are hoped for, my personal world is not.  This little place in the heart where I live is often ignored, unshared.  Though I am aptly courted, I deeply lament the loss of a lover’s fellowship.  What is one commodity to do?
Follow my metaphor and comparisons…  
The human race, I fear, has become an iconic welfare people.  We live and breathe on the useful resources of our neighbors.  Each person, partially gifted with some attributes to offer, exists as a means of securing our welfare, our survival.  We worship the necessity and embellishment they bring.  They are our demi-gods for as long as those resources exist.  It’s no small thing that we depend on neighborly resources.  It’s a larger affair, however, that our neighbors can be reduced to commodities themselves.  I am one of these commodities; appraised and valued commercially.  I am an icon and super hero for as long as I can produce profitable beauty, intelligence and talent.  So are You.  Keep following my comparisons…
Super heros or demi-gods, whichever term you prefer, are loved for what their abilities can bestow, however, they are often hated for having abilities that the average individual does not have.  A love-hate relationship exists of dependency and jealousy.  Sacrifices and teasing - anything to secure a means of personal welfare; anything to get what the demi-god has got.  But since they are commodities, necessary sources alone, no real interest in their welfareKeep following…
Hosea’s personal plight is strewn dramatically and half-hazardly across our conscience.  He is begging us to hear.  Although, truly, I don’t think he is entirely concerned with our listening.  Hosea has tapped pathos… .God’s pathos.  He watches God give His heart away.  No, he felt God give His heart away to Israel.  He felt it as he gave his heart to a women who took it for all it was worth… .as a commodity.  God gave His attributes.  They, Israel loved them… .and left Him.  Follow…
I have met with this beautiful Creator who loved Israel.   His eyes, they say, are like “a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14), casting their perceptual gaze in every possible direction (Ezekiel 10:12).  What deeply spiritual and future things could be perceived through them?  I have met He, the Wise One of Universes.  His wisdom enthrones a sovereign realm of order that lavishes our flourishing galaxy with bountiful structure (Proverbs 3:19-20).  What organizational strategies might we extract from His creatively written instructions in the sky and in the sand?  I have met with His mighty powers.  My talents pale in comparison.  He sets His finger over the waters and they split (Exodus  14).  His verbal vibrations topple walls (Joshua 6).  How might we contain this powerful expression and set it loose, under our control, to manipulate its benefits?  
How might we make use of this Beautiful One, Almighty Artistic One… .this Powerful God of innumerable attributes?  If He comes into the room could we subdue Him?  Train Him?  Unleash Him?  Might we wink and saunter, flatter and court Him correctly until the most profitable benefits have been amply extracted?
Gomer glides into the room and acknowledges the family alter.  Yahweh sits on a shelf amongst the household gods.  He is full of blessings.  Far beyond my own, His attributes are vast.  I believe I, a neighbor, sit upon that shelf as well.  I, an unseen personal soul, have been dipped in gold and sought for my giftings.  Pathos.  Perhaps a neighbor has gilded You as well.  Pathos.  Do you feel God’s pain?  
I invite you to read all of  Ezekiel, chapter 8.  When it came to pass that God no longer poured out His blessing on a rebellious Israel who loved the super qualities of any deity, the whoring nation left Him and sought any available god with beauty, brains and talent.  “And there engraved on the wall all around (Yahweh’s temple), was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel,” Ezekiel 8:10.  If Yahweh cannot be summoned to play His part, we will seek another, they think…. .one of these gods will work for us.   Israel sought protection, posterity and material prosperity.  They consumed wherever the attributes and goods could be found.  Often, in our longings, dreams and desires, the Creator is a shelved demi-god.  Useful.  Maybe.  One of many.  “Loved” and left.  
I don’t believe that we purposely seek God or neighbor exclusively for their goods all of the time.  And, much of the time when we do it, I venture, we don’t even know that we are doing it.  I will remind us, nevertheless, one personal soul to another, that neither the Almighty Artistic One nor His creation are merely goods to consume.  Take a listen to Hosea who cries from the heart… .his goods are taken and dispersed to other suitors and he is left alone.  Take a listen to God and this prophet of pathos who occupy religious shelves.  I don’t want to flatter and court God for what He has to offer… .I don’t want to be flattered and falsely courted for what I have to offer…. .and neither do you…
Let not my forerunning list of personal attributes suggest any egotism or attempt to illicit self pity.  Life presents us with many opportunities to engage pathos with both God and man.. .and I have found Him here seeking to be more than an impersonal commodity to humanity…

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Faith and Patience

In Hosea’s day, the ruthless Assyrian nation was an ominous threat in the Near East and, by Yahweh’s instigation, its eyes were soon cast towards degraded Israel.  Israel had been a “whore” and rejected God’s steadfast love.  Their silly games seeking immediate satisfaction through manipulation of the baals… .cult worship, prostitution and a slew of impersonal human atrocities that swiftly perverted fellow Israelite lives… .had drawn their affections away from a God who abided patiently in love….  
God has a habit of being slow.  Have you ever noticed this?  The thing you ask for lingers on a distant horizon and shows up nearly too late.  The restoration you seek comes in bits and pieces; connected like a jigsaw puzzle with thought and precision.  Your expectations are not presented neatly arranged in a gift basket on one fine day, but, they are expertly laid one layer at a time... .a long time.  Babies are knit together in the womb.  Marriages are reconciled over the entire course of their together life.  Houses, family visits, anticipated vacations, flower beds… .all these good things require a dollar saved over and over, a seed planted and watered and watered, mile after mile passing under the tires.  Nothing good comes too quickly.
…even God.  Usually, He has not shown up yesterday.  His heart is rooted in the building block of Today based on the faithfulness of Yesterday’s promise and a hope for Tomorrow.  God comes to us in layers, over years, with thought and precision.  He reconciles a relationship and builds a house.  God patiently loves us forevermore.  
Like a marriage, all of our marital expectations cannot be met in one day with God.  His marital promises are true, yet, they come with the mutual relating and reconciling of two very diverse partners.  Hosea, our prophet of current topic, was married.  This basic human institution suggested the necessary presence of both faith and patience.  Faith: the acknowledgment that what is hoped for in experience will come with persistence and commitment.  Patience: the long-suffering devotion that waits an interminable length to experience that hope.  These are my own definitions forged by my personal need to be faithful and patient.
No doubt these also defined Hosea’s need.  Marriage to a prostitute surely dimmed hope, yet, according to Hosea’s own prophetic writings, hope must stay alive, provoked by the heart of Yahweh to once again delight in His people and see them delight.  The faith and patience of Yahweh, expressed with real suffering, refused to douse possibilities of reconciliation and conjugal joys.  God still hoped, therefore, He was faithful to His bride and waited patiently….
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.  And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope,”  Hosea 2:14.  
Not only was He faithful, but, His faithfulness would be the initiator of her restoration.  He did not reject she who rejected but put Himself out as her Helper, her Spouse.   He would go into her deep valleys of many, many mistakes and would be her faithful, patient Healer… .Restorer… .Savior.  Only a strong heart can pledge faithfulness to a flighty spouse and promise the renewal of deep affections.  Only a strong commitment can itself insist on being the source of that spouses restoration.  The thwarted Yahweh promised to be Israel’s eternal source of hope.  I dare say, we have much to learn from Yahweh in terms of Faith and Patience.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9.

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