I sat on the hard concrete, Bible sitting closed in front of me. We had been instructed to go outside and find a place of solitude, to “listen to God’s voice” for an hour. So I sat. And listened.
I hadn’t even wanted to come to this ladies retreat. Three days in a room full of women? Um, nope.
And on top of that, the night before my friend had backed out at the last second. So that morning I had walked up to the charter buses alone, jaw clenched tight, trying to hold back tears. A woman with a kind smile handed me my name tag and after a quick scan of the bus, I opted to just sit alone. Three hours to myself? Yes, please.
“Why am I here?” I thought as I plopped my bag into the empty seat next to me, “God, why am I here?”
My husband and I had been back together for about six months, following a four-month-long separation. I felt like we were doing really well, all things considered. We’d gone to counseling separately and together, to conferences and marriage classes. We’d worked so hard. He had worked so damn hard to prove himself faithful and worthy of forgiveness.
But I had recently found out I was pregnant with our second child, our first being only a year old. A fresh wave of fear and anxiety had accompanied those two pink lines.
So there I was, just … listening. The tears had been trickling steadily for about two hours, as soon as we’d started worshiping. But now, finally alone, I let the flood gates release months of pent up anger, fear, and “WHY God“s.
My fingers protectively wrapped around my burgeoning belly. I held on as it vibrated with sobs.
What if taking him back was the wrong decision? God, JUST TELL ME I MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE. Tell me I’m not putting this little one in harm’s way. Tell me he won’t cheat again. Tell me he won’t hurt my children like he’s hurt me. I’ll have no one to blame but myself. Please, please God, just tell me it won’t happen again.
I hung my head between my knees and stilled my shaking body. My eyes opened slowly and stared down at the ground. There sat my Bible, still closed. Defeated, wondering if anyone was even listening, I grabbed it and haphazardly opened it. The pages immediately fell open to Hosea, Chapter 1. Right to it. I’d never read the book of Hosea in its entirety, but I knew the story.
The story of Hosea and his wife Gomer.
His wife Gomer, the former prostitute.
The former prostitute, who left Hosea over and over again to go back to her old life.
The story of Hosea, who, over and over again, was told by God to go and buy back his wife Gomer and bring her back home, back to him.
The story of Hosea and Gomer. The story of God’s redeeming love. The kind of otherworldly love that offers grace unconditionally, that changes hearts and heals diseases and brings those in the darkness back into the light. The kind of love that brings them back home and loves them. That loves them anyway.
So I read and wept and read some more.
Was this your plan, God? Did you handpick me to be his wife? Am I his Hosea? Is he my Gomer?
I knew the answer. I didn’t understand why, I still don’t, but I knew the answer to my most burning question: Did I make the right choice?
“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress.'” Hosea 3:1
In that moment, for the first time, I had peace.
I knew I was created to bear this burden, to walk this path, to forgive and to show a love that doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world. Because it’s a love that’s not of this world. I knew he’d walked with me, through the whole thing, and even before. I knew he’d placed within me a forgiving spirit and an understanding heart. I knew he’d placed within my husband a fierce determination and unrelenting discipline. He’d equipped us for this. Dare I say, even made us for this.
And I knew he heard me. THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE HEARD ME.
And he hears you.
He hears you. He is with you. He loves you. He will answer you. You need only be still.