I used to think that I had nothing in common with a prostitute working the corner of some run down urban real estate.
I felt no connection to her reality just as I felt no tie to the story of Gomer’s life put on display and up for eternal debate in the book of Hosea.
Hosea, a prophet of God, was told to marry a prostitute. So he chose Gomer.
Though Hosea was written to send a message to Israel and quite possibly the modern church, I’m beginning to believe it was written just for me.
God’s voice kept wooing me “Read Hosea” and I kept digging in my heels.
“Why God? I don’t want to read about leaving my first love or how awful I have been to repeatedly walk away from you.
I know I have an ambivalent faith. But I am at the end of myself. I can’t make myself do perfect-Christian-girl any longer.
You’re right, I walk away from you time and time again. But I don’t know how to change it and I personally think that beating me over the head with Hosea isn’t going to help me.”
His voice kept calling over two weeks’ time until I relented
“Fine, but I only want to know what You think of Gomer”
I was in the midst of enduring a year of traumatic flash backs to childhood sexual abuse and my soul was broken, beat down and full of shame. Ashamed that I couldn’t make myself get past my issues nor find a way to trust God with my consistent love for him.
I think God smiled tenderly when I relented and might have even chuckled. Because He only wanted me to see what His heart said to Gomer; another woman sexually abused.
I began to read and felt this mounting tension all through chapter one and into chapter two. If God were standing next to me, I pictured him pacing in his anger, a pointed finger raised, preaching his vengeance on a profoundly disloyal and insulting person. Words of judgment flew from him towards her; a hedge of protection he called it. Frustrating her when seeking sustenance from other lovers. Desperately trying to force her to see that she was still provided for by her one true love.
I was shocked when I literally turned the page to Hosea 2:14.
The words shouted to me like Zeus sending lightning bolts of fury… “This is what I will do!”
And then a quiet cool wind blew in…
“I will allure her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart”
What!?! That is not what I expected. Where did the righteous anger go?
Gently God unpacked his heart towards me, a sexual abuse survivor, and a woman like Gomer.
“There will I give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor to be for her a door of hope and expectation.”
The Valley of Achor… a place of hope? You mean the place where Achan and his family were stoned to death? How is this a place of hope?
Let’s go back to Joshua 6. Joshua was instructed to take the first city in the Promised Land, Jericho.
- All the spoils of this first city were God’s, no one was to take the spoils for themselves (Joshua 6:17, 18).
- But Achan took for himself the things that belonged to God (Joshua 7:1)
- and buried them in the floor of his own tent (Joshua 7:21).
- Interestingly, Achan was from Joshua’s own family (Joshua 7:16-18).
- In obedience to God, they took Achan, all his family and his possessions to the Valley of Achor and stoned them to death and burned their bodies with fire (Joshua 7:24-26).
“Lord, what does this have to do with Gomer and her hope?” I prayed.
“Cheryl, when you were sexually abused you were taken from me. Your perpetrator took the sacred that was set apart for me.”
A hot tear formed and gathered in the corner of my eye as he continued to teach me.
He asked, “Cheryl, what sin is hidden in the home where the sacred is torn from my creation?”
Understanding began to creep in, “Ah, Sexual abuse”
Tears flowed now as I saw how beautifully he answered Gomer and myself about the pain of our abuse.
He sees the hidden sins done against us.
He knows the places that darkness hides, even in the homes of his children.
And he is angered not at his daughters but “because he (Achan, the perpetrator) has transgressed the covenant of the Lord and because he has done a shameful and wicked thing in Israel” (Joshua 7:15)
After weeping for a time I ventured just one step further, “Where is the hope Lord? What good can be said about Jericho and the valley of Achor? Where is the hope?”
All he had to say was “Cheryl, dear one, who was the only person saved when Jericho was destroyed?”
“And her occupation?”
“A Prostitute, another woman sexually abused”
“And was she simply saved or was she redeemed?” He asked.
“She was redeemed to a great place in Israel, the great-great-grandmother of King David and therefore in the lineage of Christ and mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a heroine of our faith”
There is the hope!
In a moment I finally understood His heart. Though hurt by the continual choice to walk away from his perfect love he completely understands that he is
LOVING A WOMAN WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO BE LOVED.
I am ambivalent in my love, my abiding with him, because I have been abused. And I cannot love him unless I first receive his love for me.
I MUST LEARN TO BE LOVED BY HIM, IN ORDER TO LOVE HIM.
Gomer and I have a lot in common. I am so grateful for Hosea and his message of enduring, faithful, redemptive love. Maybe I’m not so far off from that woman working the corner of some run down urban real estate.
Maybe I should say;