And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. -- Hosea 2:8
Friday, August 8, 2014
We talked about Nebuchadnezzar yesterday, but it is not only kings and leaders who forget by whom their blessing are bestowed. It can happen to nations, as it did to Israel in the time of Hosea. Despite apostasy and heresy, the Lord had continued to sustain and protect Israel.
If we thought that delivering unpopular messages reduced the pool of applicants for the job of prophet, consider Hosea. The first thing God said to Hosea (Hosea 1:2) was, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom …”. Beta bucks, as they say. Hosea’s life was to be a living illustration of the unconditional love of God for His people, regardless of their disobedience. They would suffer the consequences of their apostasy, but they would never cease to be bound to the Lord in covenant as Gomer was bound to Hosea in marriage.
An Arminian friend of mine put it this way, “I don’t necessarily believe in once-saved-always-saved, but I do believe that’s the way God intends for it to be.” A Calvinist would read that and say that if God intends, so it is. Me? I say, with Lewis, the gates of hell are locked, from the inside.
No matter what a person has done or is doing, deliverance, peace, joy, and the Way of the kingdom is never more than a turn away. No matter how many wrong turns have been taken on the road that leads away from God, the road back is the one a person is on. Only the direction needs to change.
Every blessing, every good thing in my life is from God. I may make the mistake of attributing it to my capacity for problem-solving, but where exactly did that come from? What can I actually take credit for? My genes? Good parents? Good humor? The ability to get up after being knocked down? Most of the time, I want to quit. No, something -- Someone keeps me going. I don’t even know why. We can only resist the grace of God by actively and intentionally denying Him access to us, sedating ourselves with drugs and work and fillers, drowning out His voice with noise and activity, keeping our minds in a state of turmoil, creating daily dramas and little personal disasters and distractions.
On a very dark night I remember all too well being, as it were, on the edge of a precipice, and asking God why He would not leave me alone. Couldn’t He see that I was a lost cause, that there was no way back for me? Why not just let me go on down into oblivion? To go back would hurt too much. I don’t remember Him answering. Well, except that I’m still here. The truth is, though, I don’t feel I have made much progress. I have a feeling, if I were to turn around the yawning abyss is not that far behind me. The important thing, it seems, is not where we are but where we are going.