It was at the slave market that I truly saw how loved I was. I was bound in chains and filthy in slave rags; on display for potential buyers. I kept my eyes down, sensing contempt and disgust in the people passing by. I resigned myself to the horrible truth that my life was essentially over. I had my chance at real love and blew it. I’m getting what I deserve.
Men were milling about looking at the merchandise. I hoped that my buyer would treat me well. A familiar voice stopped my heart. “I wish to buy her.” I looked up to see the piercing blue eyes. The love that glowed from his eyes melted me. I watched with mouth gaping open as he opened his money bag and paid the trader.
I was stunned to see him. Never in my wildest imaginations would I dream up a twisted plot as this. I couldn’t believe he asked me to be his wife in the first place. He knew I wasn’t the faithful type. I thought he was nuts, perhaps even desperate to desire me as a wife. I thought some stability would be nice in my life, so I agreed. I never expected he would actually love me…an undesirable and loveless prostitute.
He was a tender man with a generous heart. I enjoyed many blessings in his household. I never lacked for anything. Yet I began to think Hosea boring and grew tired of him. The stability morphed into restlessness. It wasn’t long before my wandering heart led me astray and I chased after my old lovers. I left my home and Hosea far behind. I actually deceived myself into thinking I was doing better than being chained to straitlaced Hosea. I cringe in shame at the remembrance when I look down at the cold, tight chains bound to my hands and feet. What a wretched woman I am!
What I thought of as freedom turned to bondage when one of my phony lovers betrayed me. After abusing me, he bound me up and sold me to the slave trader.
I never once thought about returning to Hosea. That was a wild fantasy that could never be. He would never want to see my face again. Nevertheless here he was, coming to this shameful place to buy back a faithless wife. The slave trader unlocked the chains and gruffly shoved me forward. Hosea reached out and put his arm around my shoulder.
“How can I give you up, my beloved? My only desire is for you. All I have is yours. Come, let’s go home.”
I looked up into his tearful face. I didn’t know how to react; words seemed so trite, so trivial. My heart ached, tears of shame flowed down my cheeks. I’ve known many men but none loved me like this one. This is a powerful, amazing love that goes far beyond reason or understanding. I don’t deserve it; I’ve done nothing to obtain it. I just accept it and live in wonder.
The story of Hosea and Gomer changed my life forever. It transformed my perception about my worth, and how God perceived me. Previously I’ve held Him at arm’s length. I never trusted my heart to Him. It was so hard to be free of my distorted self image. Now it seems ridiculous that I would hold myself back from such an extravagant Lover as my God. That’s what the truth will do when you finally open your eyes to it.
I recently read about body dismorphic disorder. People who have this disorder imagine they are ugly. They look in the mirror and see a repulsive person staring back. They are convinced other people see them as such, so opening themselves to love and friendship is impossible. They’ll spend long periods of time picking at their faces in front of the mirror, trying in vain to make themselves presentable. Some won’t even make it out of the house.
It matters not that you keep telling them how beautiful and attractive they are. It may be the truth, yet they only see the hideous vision entrenched in their mind. So they remain blinded to the truth; they believe a lie and are robbed of the blessings of love.
It was difficult for Gomer to believe Hosea could actually love her. How could she be worthy of such a precious lover as he? The truth hit her hard, when he showed up to buy her back. It had to be shameful and humiliating for him. Yet here he was. How could you disregard this love?
1 John 4:10 says, “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
I was Gomer. Perhaps I wasn’t a prostitute, but I sure wasn’t worthy to be loved. I was unfaithful, disobedient and rebellious. Shame hung heavily upon me. My precious Jesus pursued me. He poured out His lavish grace upon me. I’ve been bought with a price. I am not my own. He did this through a humiliating and painful death on the cross. This was His plan from the very beginning of time to pursue my heart.
Beloved sister, do you not see the powerful truth that He made you worthy to be loved? This is not a human love we are talking about here. It isn’t fickle; it doesn’t depend on your performance.
I have failed Him many times. I’ve been a disappointment. Sometimes I feel so weak. Why would He choose me to be His vessel? Why does He continue to show me mercy? I don’t understand; perhaps I never will. I don’t deserve it, I can’t obtain it. I just believe, accept it and live in wonder.