BY Guest Writer
Text: Hosea 2:1-13, Ezekiel 21:1-7
When I was in college, I volunteered as a Young Life leader. That meant I spent my afternoons driving to a local high school, only to awkwardly walk through the cafeteria, trying to befriend high school girls, and eventually, tell them about Jesus.
Every summer, we took hoards of high schoolers to a camp in Colorado, where we promised they’d have the “best week of their lives.” Midnight obstacle courses, pool parties, and delicious family-style meals were all punctuated by “club,” a gathering where we’d scream songs at the top of our lungs, and then later quiet down and listen to a speaker talk about God and this man called Jesus. About three days in, the speaker stopped talking about God and started talking about sin, something he told hundreds of teenagers they were powerless to fix.
That day was never fun. And neither is today’s passage from Hosea.
Had I read these verses a few years ago, I would have written a true but shallow reflection. Something about how angry God gets at our sin, and how grateful we should be for Jesus. Back then, I knew I was an adulterer theoretically. But practically speaking, I’d done a pretty good job of following the rules.
Now, here I am, reading these verses with new eyes, on the other side of a marathon of misplaced affections. Angry at God and threatening to sabotage my relationships and even my marriage, I chased down false loves I knew were off limits to me: a job that took me away from home, clothes and experiences that were out of my budget, a belief that freedom existed outside the walls of my life rather than within them. I ran hard. God wasn’t giving me what I wanted, so I pursued other gods instead.
Now, here I am, reading from God’s Word, “This is what the Lord says: I am against you” (Ezekiel 21:3). Are there any more terrifying words? But when I am pursuing sin, I need the Lord to oppose me. I need the Lord to intervene.
On a Saturday in April, sitting in a grassy field in the middle of Tennessee, I held a cell phone to my ear and cried my eyes out to a dear friend who had watched me choose that futile path. “I’ve been running for so long,” I cried to her. And her response came slowly, softly. “That’s the thing about God. When you’re running, He’s in hot pursuit. And He will take you down.”
Let me say this from firsthand experience: getting taken down by God doesn’t always feel good. The New Testament tells us that God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). But that kindness, in the moment, may not always feel so kind. It can be mortifying. Embarrassing. Oftentimes, it is public, because our Lord is the King of bringing things from darkness into the light (Luke 1:79).
He could turn us back to Him with a soft and tender hand, and often, He does. But sometimes, His kindness comes with thornbushes, with walls in our way (Hosea 2:6). With shipwrecks and blindness and the belly of a whale. He turns us back with Calvary—the bloodiest kindness of all.
That’s what made those days in Colorado so powerful: watching teenagers learn the joy of a grace that is greater than our sin. God has once and for all redeemed our lives with the cross. We are His. And because He is holy and loving, and because we are His children, He will not tolerate our false gods or sit idly by while we run from Him.
Praise God, He takes us down.
Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.