Pretty Woman

The story of Hosea has always intrigued me.
When I don't know what to read but feel like I should try dusting off my bible for a change, I often end up here.
Probably because it isn't exactly the kind of story that would ever come up in a children's Sunday school and even enough to make most adult ones uncomfortable.
If you aren't familiar let me summarize.
God tells Hosea to go out and marry a known prostitute.You might think, especially if you watched Pretty Woman, that if a man knows all your dirty secrets and choses to marry you anyways.....that maybe you'd change your line of work.
Not Gomer.
They have 3 kids. God tells Hosea to name them horrible things them divorce her and charge her for being a whore. And if this sounds more like Jerry Springer episode than the Bible to you,  I assure you it is in there. Just read the first two chapters of Hosea.

What comes next gets even crazier. He tells Hosea To go find his promiscuous wife and to buy her back.
To go get her.
To speak tenderly to her.
To marry her all over again.

And it is such a weird story,
Some crazy biblical version of Pretty Woman with a built in sequal.

At our core we are no better than Gomer.
We have all been unfaithful.
And we have certainly felt the scorn of being unloved.
I think deep down. Sometimes we wonder if we are not His.
Wondering if there is something innately wrong or broken in us.

I've read that is some people's greatest fear. Larry Crab says this:
"But most Christians vaguely sense that they long for so much more than what they experience on a daily basis, and they suppress a terror that no one could no them fully and still want to be their friend."

And those are the good guys. The ones showing up on Sundays. Having a quiet time. Following the rules. The ones that secretly feel at least a little bit better about them selves because at least they are not...
Like them.

God always seems to pick them doesn't He?

The sick.
The children.
The unpopular.
The unclean.
The scorned.
The prostitute.

Instead of recognizing this ...we just keep making new groups of people to leave out.
To call them.
To feel better than.
Instead maybe we should take the lead from Hosea.
Because in this story,
We are the whore.
Like most stories in the bible, This isn't a story of deception. Or even one of judgement.
Gomer  was a whore from the beginning.
God chose her anyways.
To be his bride.
This. Is our love story.
Our fairy tale.
Our chance to be chosen despite who we really are.
Our chance to be loved anyways even after that ridiculous promise and still finding ourselves unfaithful.
But best of all our chance to be sought after and brought back.

The Voice says it like this

     "But once she has nothing, I’ll be able to get through to her.
        I’ll entice her and lead her out into the wilderness where we can be alone,
        and I’ll speak right to her heart and try to win her back." Hosea 2:14

I think most of us have had some experience in the wilderness. And we do not remember if fondly.
But to God it is a place where we could be alone.
A place to speak right into our hearts.

And that alone is an amazing story. Even more shocking than the one staring Julia Roberts or any daytime talk show.

But I haven't even mentioned my favorite part yet.
The names.

Hosea was told to name his first son Jezreel.
Which means "He sows"
And in this case means he sows destruction, judgement and punishment.
Next, they had a daughter that they named. "Shown No Mercy"  or "Unloved" depending on the translation you read. Lastly they had a son, named "Not Mine" or as the Message so bluntly puts it, "Nobody".

And that all sounds like a terrible way to sign your Christmas cards.
Punishment, Unloved and Nobody.

From Abraham to Paul, the bible likes to give people new names. And he saved the best of Hosea's offspring.

Regardless of the version you read the name changes are beautiful. Only Jezreel's name  stayed the same, but instead of sowing retribution he sowed love,
To those unloved. He called love, not my people - mine. Nobody -Somebody.

        I’ll sow into My beloved land and plant the people in the land and make them My own.To the one who has not been shown mercy,
        I’ll rename her Mercy.
    I’ll tell Not My People,“You are now My People."  Hosea 2:23

This time he sows love.
He comes and gets us.
He renames us.

When I was a kid, I didn't think I really looked like a "Michelle"
I thought "Ashely" was a much cooler name. And for a week in 3rd grade I asked people to call me that and even wrote it on some of my papers.
My daughter often announces that she is no longer Tess and that she would like to be addressed as "Tiara". Or "Princess" or "insert any Disney princess here".
I know what it is like to want a new name. To want to be someone else.
To let myself feel Unloved. Unworthy. Unfaithful. Unforgiven. And Not His.
Occasionally it takes the wilderness, or an old testament prophet or even a prostitute to whisper....
I will give you mercy.
I will love you anyways.
You are somebody.
You are mine.
You are loved.

 (This pic has nothing to do with my post, except he is the cutest puppy I ever laid eyes on....even if he keeps me awake at night. And his name is Lando...just in case you were wondering).