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;
Cheryl, I was overwhelmed when you TOLD me this…and even more so READING your words. Your wrote it beautifully. “And I cannot love him unless I first receive his love for me.” Speaking to me…..
And isn’t that the beauty of the book of Hosea? It is the heart cry from the Lover of our Souls – Just receive my love – Let me love you!
This is beautiful, Cheryl! Thanks for sharing your heart and God’s love and truth. You are truly inspirational to many.
As are you Julie – 🙂 Your heart is comforting to mine! Thanks for your encouragement and prayers!
Cheryl, I think a lot of us are not too far off from that lady on the corner. A lot of us carry the notion we are unlovable because of the misuse of God’s most precious gift, sexual intimacy. Thank you for sharing what God revealed to you through His love and His words. This is my first time here and I’m absolutely moved and incredibly grateful to have read your story.
Bonny – Thanks for reading and sharing your heart. You have been a great word of encouragement for me today – precise timing 🙂
So many of us could say these same words due to sexual abuse or bad sexual choices. I wrote about Gomer a couple months ago (http://forgivenwife.com/2013/06/25/the-heart-of-gomer/), and I’ve seen several other posts and articles in various places referring to her. I love how God is reaching to so many of us right now through Gomer.
Forgiven – Thanks for posting a link to your article on Gomer! It is beautiful and so spot on. I love finding women whose hearts beat in rhythm with one another. I too love the passage further on that speaks of her no longer calling God Baal but Ishi (my husband)! What a profound statement of Redemption!
Hi. I have been reading ForgivenWife’s blog for about a month now, and was upon her post about Gomer and Hosea today. From there I surfed to your post here and the two are definitely ministering! The Spirit is reaching my heart through Several things you wrote and tears meant toward healing are flowing. Look forward to reading more of your posts. God bless. P.S. There is an amazing song by Misty Edwards about the woman caught in adultery, who was to be stoned. Your post and the song are alike in us finding we are that individual. It is a beautiful piece. For anyone who will listen to it. Make sure you can sit back to take in the almost-20-minute song in disturbed. It will bring you to tears and to worship, rejoicing. It’s called “The Harlot”. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kqrJumkmdv8
So glad to have you in this motley crew of women learning to BE loved. No matter what has happened to us or how we respond to it ~ nothing can change our Creators impassioned love for us. Thank you for the link to the song. Can hardly wait to listen, really listen.
What a compelling story. Yours, and Gomer’s, and Rahab’s; and yes, mine. Ultimately, God’s. Thank you, Cheryl. I’m entranced by the line: I MUST LEARN TO BE LOVED BY HIM, IN ORDER TO LOVE HIM.
Helen – This story belongs to so many of us… too many of us. I share my story (and others who guest blog for me) to let everyone know How Great God’s story is and will be for us all! Yes, we are all learning to BE loved 🙂 We love because He first Loved Us! Thanks Helen for chiming in!
In a great estate the very best wine is in the cellar, and on the bottom shelf. I think you just poured out for us, the finest and I am humbled by your gift.
Pastor Bryan….. I’m speechless. Thank you. It is my pleasure to serve an honored guest such as you 🙂 #IDIB
CMS, you are too kind, lol. That was a top-drawer post, which I think will keep speaking to many.
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