And You Will Finally Know Me
I didn't know exactly what God was up to. I didn't know why He was letting me go through this pain. But through it all, He was showing me something valuable.
Do you ever wish God would write His messages to you in flaming letters in the sky? Let you know His will through a booming, unmissable voice? Me too.
This past year has been a journey for me in learning to listen to God. The good news is that He is speaking, and when He wants you to get something, He is persistent -- even if you don't see flaming letters or burning bushes. And you can learn how to hear Him better.
I've recently been soaking in the book "Discerning the Voice of God," and today I read a brilliant chapter on God's persistence in getting His message across and how He confirms His message in different ways.
"When God has a message for you, He is persistent... When God speaks to you by the Holy Spirit within and also confirms it by other means from without, then be on the lookout for His directions. If you notice a consistent message confirmed through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Scripture, your circumstances, and other people, pay close attention. God is repeating Himself to make sure you get the message." (p. 78)
I put the book down as I sat curled up on the sofa, wrapped in my fluffy white blanket, lost in thought. This chapter confirmed so much of my experience with God. I took out my journal, and asked myself, "What have been the persistent, 'thematic,' corroborated messages over the past year?"
I could think of several. God had certainly spoken often. Thematically. Persistently. Through multiple avenues. This journey of deeper friendship with Him had been sparked in January 2017, in the midst of a difficult season, when God had very clearly spoken to me from a text in Hosea.
One of His messages, oft-confirmed, had been about His desire for increased intimacy -- about His leading and speaking, which of course necessitated me learning to be still and listen. "I believe this journey is something He wants me to continue this year," I wrote in my journal.
Another message had been about hope and restoration. "That could tie into this year's possible theme of newness," I wrote. (The concept expressed in Isaiah 43:18-19 keeps coming up!)
It's tempting to think of restoration as simply God giving you back something you gave up or lost. But that's not necessarily the whole picture. "God goes one better than that," I continued to journal. "Restoration, whatever that means for a specific area of your life, is about... better than before. The way God had in mind from the beginning. Restoration is about healing. Beauty. Fulfillment. 'Restoring the years the locust has eaten' (Joel 2:25) and being in a better place for it."
True, the passage in Hosea talks about the things taken away being returned (pictured as vineyards in the text). It's easy to focus on the idea of the gifts and restoration that God has in store for the right time. But the heart of the passage is so much deeper than that.
The heart of the passage is all about the intimacy with God that is the surprising product of the wilderness experience.
As I wrote about last year, Hosea 2:16 talks about how we will come to call God our husband instead of our master. Whatever your gender, that is a picture of ever-increasing love and intimacy. I have certainly tasted that this year.
Today, after I finished the chapter in "Discerning the Voice of God," I went back to Hosea 2 and read a little further on. Although God's metaphorical language speaks as to a woman, again, the message is one of the ultimate, deepest, most permanent commitment, whatever your gender.
"I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know Me..." (vv19-20)
I could just hear the longing of God's heart in that. "And you will finally know Me."
That is the bigger purpose, the greater gift.
Maybe you've been in the wilderness. Maybe you're still in the middle of it, or maybe you're starting to walk through your "door of hope" (Hosea 2:15) and you're looking forward to what God will do and what He will restore.
But the return of the "vineyards," however nice that may be, is secondary to the gift of God Himself.
And He -- with all He is and all that means -- gives Himself to you... to me... forever.
First written in 2017