The running and the returning || #SheSharesTruth: Hosea

 Life catch up: school, school, and more school. All of life is school when you’re taking 18 hours! (Welcome to senior year, y’all). It’s crazy busy and exhausting. Pretty much sums up this season of life, I suppose.

In the midst of it all, I’ve been keeping up with my She Reads Truth studies. These studies were a spiritual life saver this summer at home. Though I was often too exhausted to do much Bible study, I tried to keep up with them this summer. I was almost always successful. I’m still pretty successful during school, even if it means I’m reading at 1am in bed using the SRT app (which is awesome. if you haven’t checked it out, you should).

And then they decided to do Hosea. Right as school was starting.

After my friend introduced me to Redeeming Love (which is based off Hosea- and is a topic I could write an entire post about itself!), I’ve had some interest in studying it, but I’ve been kinda hesitant.  If you haven’t read it, Hosea is an intense book of the Bible. I’d never studied it in-depth for this reason. it was so hard for me to study, hard for me to understand– especially at the beginning of my most hectic semester to date. As someone that didn’t grow up reading and learning scripture, reading these stories (especially Old Testament) are a bit scarier for me. SRT makes reading these books and stories I’m not familiar with easier, but still… it’s tough.

I learned a lot I needed to learn, even things I didn’t want to learn. I was challenged, even when I didn’t want to be, about things I didn’t necessarily want to be challenged about.

And I was reminded of so, so much that I needed to hear.

“The book of Hosea is not about Hosea, it is about God’s relentless pursuit of an undeserving people.” (Day 1)

 Even when I run. (Especially when I run).

 Even when I’m a hot mess.

 Even when I fail and flounder.

 Even when I don’t want to trust or follow Him, when I’d rather do things my way.

 Even then, He still wants me. 

He knows me. He knows me well enough to know I’ll run and keep running. He knows my messes and my struggles and my story. And yet, He still pursues me. He chose me to be His.

I will never understand it. I will always wonder why.

“The chasm of sin grows wider and we run faster, but our God changes not. He is still sovereign, even as we flee.” (Day 5)

There have been so many times that this story has been mine. I think that’s part of what makes it hard to read: I have been the unfaithful bride, running away from the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I have struggled with letting love in. With being fully known and fully loved. I’ve shut myself off to love and letting people love me for so long.  I have created this bulletproof shield, keeping my heart and love from everyone (too much trust has been broken to give it to people freely).  In doing so, I’ve been too afraid to let anyone in- including God. 
This has been a work in progress, this idea of letting people (including God) fully love me, over the past year. It’s so much easier to run the other way, to flee in fear of getting hurt. It’s easier to put my shield up to anyone that comes my way.
And yet, God still pursues me. He wants me. His love is unrelenting- even when I’m gunning it in the opposite direction.
He waits for me. 
He loves me fully. He knows me fully. Even when I don’t want Him to.
He chooses me as His love. 
He knows I’ll return, and patiently waits for me to come to my senses and come running back where I belong. 
He relentlessly loves and pursues every part of me.

That’s a beautiful, yet scary thought. It used to be more scary than beautiful, but the fear is starting to be left behind- slowly, but surely.

“We are sinful. He is steadfast.

We are fearful. He is faithful.

We are broken. He binds up.

We cherish idols. He cherishes us.

His love and affection toward us do not change, no matter the depth of our sin.” (Day 5)

“Build me a home inside Your loving arms, the only place I ever will belong”
When I think of me and my running, I think of this song. It made me cry when I listened to it after reading this post.
How amazing is it that He waits for me to return to Him? He doesn’t just wait, either- He is joyful and unbelievably ecstatic when I return to Him, even if I’ve run 100 times to the opposite side of the world to get away from Him. Nothing will subdue His love and affection towards me. Nothing.

“Whether it’s the first time you’ve run willingly out of God’s precious protection that comes from obedience, or it’s the five millionth time, the Lord doesn’t stand unmoved by your genuine return.” (Day 8)

How unfathomable is it that He constantly pursues me, loves me so much that He wants to have a relationship with me? No matter what I do, or where I am, or how far I run… His pursuit and love for me stay the same.

He wants ME! He pursues ME! He loves ME! And that will never change. 

   It’s overwhelming.  I’ve never felt a love this strong towards little ol’ me.

It’s amazing how much your life can change when you’re being pursued and loved so deeply.

Earlier this week, we had Ellie Holcomb speak and perform during chapel. It’d take me an entire post to relay her whole beautiful message, but she spoke a bit about being fully known and fully loved. It’s a hard idea for me to wrap my brain around- the idea that God sees my mess, my screwups, and my failures, and pursues me anyway. But He does. Because if anything else, He is a God that fully knows His children for who He made them to be, and fully loves us in spite of our mess.

One of my favorites by her, Love Broke Through. (I bought this whole album after hearing her in chapel).
“Your love has called me out
Out of my sorrow
Out of my broken places
Hope has been renewed
‘Cause there in the darkness
Love broke through”

And another for good measure: The Broken Beautiful
“I know that I don’t bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There’s days I wonder if You’ll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?
Would You remind me now of who You are?
That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful”

The book of Hosea and God’s constant pursuit of us teaches me that no matter who we fully are or what we have done, He loves us enough to chase after us, and lavishly extend His grace and love to us when we finally return. Hosea teaches me that His pursuit isn’t because of what we’ve done or haven’t done- it’s because He simply loves us and wants us to be loved by Him. No matter how far or how much I run, He will still be waiting, still be pursuing, and still loving me. And to me, that’s pretty amazing.

Thank you, Hosea, for reminding me of the depth of His love.

Thank you, Lord, for the running and the returning back to where my heart truly belongs.

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