I have watched this video numerous times.  I came across it a few months ago, when I was still in Toronto preparing to come here to Bucharest.  I watch it again and again because I am so captured by the passion and sincere love that is shown and described by worship leader, Steffany Frizzel.  There is a simplicity and clarity in the way she beautifully articulates what worship is, the removing of the space between us and God, and it has challenged me to rethink what space in my life I have given to other people and things.  God just wants to love us, and show His love to all people.  We complicate it, and put things in the way.  Sometimes these things are easy to spot, and sometimes they’re hidden behind hurt and shame and time.  But as we worship God, as we give Him more of us and ask Him to remove the things that are standing in the way, His love is able to come and saturate our hearts.

In this past week, God has been speaking to me a lot about forgiveness.  He’s been trying to get my attention on this subject for awhile, but I didn’t take the time to really listen fully.  That is until Friday…

Friday night.  I was so excited because I had plans to go out with a friend in the evening and explore new parts of the city.  But then, things changed and my friend was no longer able to meet up.  Thinking quickly, eager to make new plans, I texted another friend that I had also planned to hang out with soon…but this friend was also unable now to meet up.  But I was not giving up.  I was determined to go out, as I was craving to socialize and see people.   I really love people.   And so, I tried another friend.  We texted back and forth a bit, seeing if hanging out was a possibility, but she too was unable to hang out.  With one last try, I texted another friend, hoping that we could hang out…but no, “unavailable” was the answer.

I thought to myself, perhaps God is trying to get my attention and wants me to hang out with Him tonight.  I let the thought linger for a little, then pushed it aside as I grabbed the remote control and surfed until I found something to distract my thoughts for the meantime.  I figured I could watch some TV, eat some food, and have a relaxing evening instead of going out.  I considered going out on my own, but by this time I was just feeling so lazy that I stayed put.  A movie came on TV, not sure what it was called, but it took place in the seventies in Brooklyn and featured a lot of children yelling at their parents.  I kept waiting for something to resolve…but it didn’t.

Again, I felt like I should turn off the TV and hang out with God.  Perhaps He wanted to tell me something…”after this movie, ok” I said in my mind, even though I knew that after the movie something else would catch my attention all over again.  Then BAM!  The power went out.   Instinctively I thought, “it’s God, trying to get my attention!”  But instead of being obedient and opening my Bible to see what God wanted to tell me, I waited and a few seconds later the power came back on.  The TV buzzed on, and my strange, unfulfilling movie continued.  I started watching again, talking myself into thinking it was just a fluke.  But I didn’t really believe myself.

Then, BAM. The power went out again!  I’d like to tell you I was obedient this time and listened to God’s voice telling me to spend time with Him…but when the power returned seconds later, there I was mindlessly watching the movie, again.  This happened another TWO times in the minutes following, and after the fourth power outage, I finally listened.  Finally.  I turned off the TV, opened my Bible, and began to ask God what He wanted to show me.

My God is a funny and amazingly patient God.  Four failed plans to hang out with friends, and four power outages.  As I tell this story, I laugh at myself for my selfish and childish behaviour.  I was so focused on MY desire to hang out with people, and when that didn’t work out, MY desire to sit and drain my brain on mindless TV.  I am so thankful that God didn’t give up on me that night.  He pursued me.  He wanted to hang out, He wanted my whole attention, and even though I was filling my ears with sounds and trying to busy myself, there He was, smiling and waiting.  He waits in love.  And when we finally turn to Him, He embraces us with love, not shame or scolding for not coming sooner.  It’s always love.

(And just to mention, the power didn’t go out anymore that night.  God temporarily took away my earthly source of power so that I could turn to Him for HIS power!)

With the TV off, and my mind awakened, I sat on the white couch, Bible in hand, and asked God what He wanted to tell me.  What part of the Bible He wanted me to read.  Sometimes it’s hard when I ask this because I don’t always have a specific passage or book that God puts on my heart.  In those times, I continue to read through where I last left off, read through the Psalms, or search for a part of the Bible that I don’t know so well.  But this time, on this Friday night, I felt that God had something specific He wanted to show me.

Hosea.

I felt it whispered to my heart.  God has been putting this book on my heart for awhile now, and I couldn’t seem to figure out why.  I read it over and over, it’s not very long so you can read it easily in one sitting.   Each time, I thought I knew why God wanted me to read it, but my answer never satisfied me…there was something else God was showing me, and I wanted to know what.  So I sat and read it through, slowly, making sure I didn’t miss anything.  I underlined the parts that stood out to me, or the parts that I found confusing and needed help with.  It’s amazing how God, through His Spirit, makes things clear to us…how He unfolds His words to us and sheds light on areas of confusion (Psalm 119:130).

The story of Hosea is one of relentless love.  A love that is persistent, and although unrequited in many ways, the love pursues.  Sometimes in a soft and alluring way, as one woos the woman he loves.  At other times, the love was pursued with power like a lion hunting its prey.  Hosea was a man of God, told by God to marry a woman who was prostituting herself.  A strange request it seems, but one that displayed the way in which God loves His people.  Just as Hosea chased after his wife who was undeserving in may respects, eager to show her love and give her a home and security, God chases after us, eager to show us His love and give us a home in His arms.  But both the wife of Hosea, Gomer, and the Israelites, God’s people, did not listen to the cry of their lover. Hosea’s story, as told in the Bible, illustrates this relentless and forgiving love God has for us, even now.  The part that I had missed before was found right in the title. The meaning of Hosea’s name.

Hosea is a Hebrew name meaning “Salvation.”  As soon as I saw this, I knew that it was was God wanted to show me all along.  I have a fascination with names.  I love to know their meanings.  I feel that it gives a special insight into a person, and can often teach you many things about yourself.  In the past month I have stumbled across a new, exciting element of my own name…but that is a story for another time…

Forgiveness and salvation go hand in hand.  For it is as we are forgiven that we are saved.  It is when say “I’m sorry” to our friend and that friend tells you all is forgotten, that the friendship is saved.  Without that step, there is always a space between the two.  Without forgiveness, we become further and further from the one who hurt us.  And without saying “I’m sorry, please forgive me” we do not allow for that space to be removed.  As Steffany Frizzel shared in the video I posted, God has done EVERYTHING He can to come as close to us as possible.  He has sent His own son, Jesus, to give His life for us, as the ransom for all the wrongs we’ve done.  In this beautiful sacrificial act, God showed us a kind of love that no human could ever replicate.  It was a total laying down of His best for us.  Even though I have learned it many times, something special happened on this Friday night where God made it real to me in a new way.  I experienced His love for me in a fresh way.  I experienced His forgiveness.

To say “I’m sorry” takes humility.  It is hard because we are admitting our wrong.  We are acknowledging our fault, and then asking someone else to take notice of it in the hope that they will tell you “It’s ok, I forgive you” whether or not in those words.  When we say “I’m sorry” we are putting ourselves on the line, risking punishment or embarrassment, or even a lack of response which can hurt far worse than the others.  We’ve all screwed up, numerous times.  I know I have.  And even though I know that Jesus has forgiven me, I have never had it made so real to me until now.  God really spoke to me that evening and showed me that there is NOTHING I can do to make Him love me more or less.  There is NOTHING I can say that will change what I’ve said or haven’t said.  And yet, He woos me, and brings me close and whispers loving words to me and makes me laugh and smile.  He is my best friend and best lover because He wants to be close to me SO much, that He doesn’t even want me to remember or dwell on the past mistakes I’ve made.  He is my salvation.  My Hosea. My Jesus.

It is tempting sometimes to hold on to our hurts, and our shame.  Excuses build up, and soon enough we are found ten years later still aching deep inside from the same hurts and sources of shame.  Some believe that “time heals all” but time only heals when we take the time to ask for healing.  When we take the time to say “I’m sorry.”

God desires to rush in and pour out His love on you.  But He is patient, and He waits for you to invite Him in.  He woos you and whispers your name. Whatever it is that is standing in the way, filling that space between you and God, it is not too big to be removed, and not too small to be addressed. Imagine wanting to hug the hand of the one you love, but having a bunch of other people or stinky garbage in between.  It kinda ruins the beautiful image of the embrace, but it doesn’t take away the desire to be close to your loved one.

Here is a song, sung by Steffany Frizzell and Jeremy Riddle, called “One Thirst.”  I love the imagery of coming to God with thirst and hunger.

“Take your words with you and return to the Lord.  Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.”

Hosea 14:2

Advertisements