We just finished reading through Hosea in our Bible Reading Plan at church. Poor guy. I mean, it’s inspiring to have God use your entire life as a symbol of His relationship with Israel, but…Anyway, I wanted to share a couple of things I highlighted my Bible while reading Hosea last week.
First is a well written poetic analogy of Israel as a vine, from God’s perspective. It’s Hosea 10:1-2
“Israel is a luxuriant vine; He produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, The more altars he made; The richer his land, The better he made the sacred pillars. Their heart is faithless; Now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars And destroy their sacred pillars.”
Ouch. Not only ouch Israel. Ouch Sarah. That passage was really convicting to me. It’s hard sometimes to break down these analogies to apply them to our 21st century American lives, so let me give you an example.
I am on the worship team at my church and I absolutely love it. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend time – using my gifts and collaborating with other musicians to help our community worship God. I love the leaders and the other musicians on the worship team. I love producing holy fruit with my fellow musicians. But sometimes, I bring my own fruit. I studied music in school, so I am knowledgeable in that area, or you could say I posess “rich land” in the musical world. And sometimes, I spout that knowledge out in rehearsal in a….less-than-subtle way. I show off, really. The result of showing that off is that I build this fancy altar in my mind. And I live on top of this altar for a while, being all proud of my knowledge.
And then, just like that, God breaks it down. He’s all – “So what if you know all the chords that you can go to from a minor 6? So what if you know the textbook harmony for that chorus?” When I build that altar to me and my knowledge, it’s not about God anymore. It’s about me and my harmony. It sounds pretty ridiculous, but it’s always the tiniest things that can draw us away from living for God, and often the ones that we miss.
For you it might be something smaller, less obvious, or bigger, or crazier. Or maybe you’re thinking this Sarah girl needs therapy…
The other part of Hosea that jumped out at me was a very simple sentence. The very beginning of Hosea 7:16.
“They turn, but not upward.”
Annnnnd another blow to my conscience. When were we ever trained to treat God as a last resort? After thinking about this question for a while, I realized that it’s because we don’t spend enough time with God. Who do you tell everything to? The person you’re closest to. Perhaps right now that’s your spouse, your mom, your best friend, your brother, your dog…? If we are closest to God, He’s the one we’re going to tell everything to. First.
Think about a couple situations that you’ve been in for a while – good or bad. How have you handled the development of these circumstances? Now think about if you had always come to God first during this season, perhaps instead of [enter person’s name or social networking site here]. Life is full of horizontal relationships, but the most important one is vertical. Of course it’s important to have people close to us who we can figure out life with. My friends and family are indispensable. But when you need guidance, comfort, or even someone to tell some good news, where do you turn first?
As for my musical altars, all I have to say is I am so thankful for GRACE and God loving me in spite of my ridiculousness. And even though I mess up a lot, I do try to come to Him first, because He has the most patience and the best advice. How great it will be when we will be able to talk to our Creator face to face.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come.” Revelation 1:8