I grew up as a “Christian.” My family went to church every Sunday, prayed every night together before dinner, and listened to the Christian music radio station in the car on Sundays. They taught us the ten commandments and how much Jesus loves us.
When I became a teenager, my parents sat me down and told me how important it is to remain abstinent until I was married.
The same message was also made clear throughout different aspects of my life. The world tells us that when we have sex, we can no longer go back to the way we were. The world tells us that we are beautiful white carnations, but when we have sex, we turn into shriveled flowers that cannot be renewed. But through repentance and grace, God is able to restore us back into the beautiful white flowers that we are.
As I grew up, I started dating and “fell in love.” I pushed mom and dad out of my head, crumpled flowers out of my head, and God out of my heart. I dated my high school boyfriend for 9 months, was going off to college, and one thing led to another. Long story short, we broke up a couple months later… I gave up something special to me, something that was mine, to someone who didn’t deserve it.
Today I’m going to tell you about the book of Hosea.
Hosea, the prophet, was told by God, go and marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her. Hosea, being the good prophet that he was, went to find himself a promiscuous wife. He meets Gomer, who is deceitful, devious, and sleeps around with many men. Hosea marries Gomer and they have three children together.
If Gomer were alive today, she’d be that girl who posts scandalous photos of herself on instagram hoping for hundreds of likes, she gossips not just about people but about her “BFFs”, and on the weekends, she escapes to bedrooms at house parties, drunk from the pregame, and makes hasty decisions with boys she barely knows.
Maybe you know a Gomer.
In college, I was unfortunately a lot like Gomer. I let my faith take the back seat while sin and I took the wheel. I’d post photos of myself, hoping that a certain guy would see it. I would wear extra tight clothes hoping that someone would come up and talk to me, and I continued to be sexually impure.
I did this because I so desperately wanted to feel loved. My parents love me, but their love wasn’t good enough. I constantly searched for validation, for something or someone to make me feel whole, like the most beautiful, smart, funny girl in the world. But this feeling of unworthiness didn’t just last a year, it lasted all the way through college.
Gomer felt the same way. Hosea’s love wasn’t good enough; she needed more. She left him and her children, and pursued sin in the form of expensive jewels, fancy wine, and multiple lovers.
Then God stepped in. Because God sees us, all of us.
In Psalm 139:2 God says, “Precious one, you might not know me, but I know you like none other.”
He sees how broken we are, and he tries to tell us, I’m here, I am your one true love. All you need is love from me.
When we pursue sin, God steps in. God loves us so much that he can’t bear to see us living a life of sin. He interrupts our path. It may not be right away, but, over a long period of time.
My path was directed by TV shows I watched, music I listened to, magazines and books I read. When God tried steering me another way, towards the path he wanted me on, I took a shovel and said no, I’m making my own path. I know better than you God.
But I don’t know better than God, none of us do. In Hosea 2:6, God says “Therefore, this is what I’ll do: I will block her way with thorns; I will enclose her with a wall, so that she cannot find her paths.”
God can turn us back to Him with a tender hand, and often does. But sometimes, His kindness comes with thorn bushes, with walls that block us.
When God interrupts our lives, it doesn’t always feel good. The New Testament tells us that God’s unconditional love and grace leads us to repent. But His kindness and love may not always feel so kind. It can be mortifying. Embarrassing. Oftentimes, it is public, because our Lord is the King of bringing things from the darkness into the light.
God doesn’t take us down because he’s a bully, he takes us down to rescue us; to show us he is all we need and he knows best.
In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
God stops Gomer in her path of sin, sticks thorn bushes in her way, and then comes to her.
In Hosea 2:14, God says “Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”
This verse shows God’s intentions. Gomer thinks she’s going into a dessert to be yelled at and punished by God. She’s thinking,her path can’t get any worse. Instead God tells her she is restored from a shriveled flower into a renewed beautiful one. She no longer has to live this life of sin and unworthiness.
God then tells Hosea to go find Gomer. Take her back. Hosea finds her and buys her back with all that he has.
God knows how unfaithful we can be, but he pursues us with everything he has, just as Hosea pursued Gomer. Hosea shows God’s love and forgiveness by forgiving Gomer and loving her endlessly.
And God promises us in Romans 8:38, “Nothing you have ever done can separate you from my love.”
How amazing is it to know that our God will love us no matter what? He will never leave us or forsake us. This is a lot to wrap our heads around, but that’s the point. God’s love for us, is unfathomable.
You’re probably wondering, Is Sarah still living her life like Gomer? Well, I’ll tell you.
In November of last year, during my senior year of college, I met someone really special. A tall, beautiful, and smart blonde boy from the Bahamas. I loved how he loved being around me, and how special he made me feel. We became boyfriend and girlfriend in April.
A short month later, he found out that I was talking to other boys. He was devastated. I sat in my room staring at my ceiling wondering what was wrong with me.
My sin felt so normal. My sin was part of my everyday routine. My sin wasn’t sin to me, it was my life.
As I scrolled through my insta, my feed was full of ultra skinny people, bloggers whose lives look perfect, designer brands, and hundreds of unattainable things. I had been idolizing these people and things that have absolutely nothing to do with my faith, and glorify God in no manner.
An idol is any person, object or activity you give a higher priority in your life than a relationship with God. I let my value be determined by instagram likes rather than His love.
I was looking at images on social media that led me to believe this is what your life should look like, this is how you should act, this is the best way to live.
In first Samuel 12:21 God says, “Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.”
I was pursuing sin as if it would be the answer to my brokenness. If I was skinnier, had nicer clothes, showed my cleavage, maybe a guy will like me, I will feel worthy, I will feel loved.
All I wanted was to be loved but one guy’s attention wasn’t enough, multiple guys’ attention still wasn’t enough. That’s not just wanting to be loved, that’s not understanding that my God made me and he made me perfectly.
God took me in his hands and said, “Sarah, I have to bring your sin that you keep in the dark to light or you’ll never learn.” But God isn’t just bringing my sin to light.
In Hosea 14:4 God says, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely.”
He isn’t just undoing my sin, he’s healing me, and I didn’t have to sacrifice anything, I didn’t have to earn this, he does this freely because he adores me.
After my boyfriend found out I was talking to multiple boys, I was embarrassed, mortified that I could do such a thing. But God had to find a way to wake me up. Because for the past four years, I insisted on creating my own path.
After talking this through with my boyfriend, he forgave me and we both worked at recognizing my feelings of insecurity. I came home that summer looking for renewal and restoration, but this time through God, not boys, not through the latest health trend, not through a new makeup routine, but through God.
In Proverbs 8:17 God says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently, find me.”
I decided to start reading different books in the bible. The first one I came across was Hosea. I had no idea what Hosea was about. I just liked the cover of the devotional book. As I studied, I realized if I wanted to have the best possible relationship with God, I needed to surrender my life to him. This meant handing over the sin I loved and clung to.
You see, when you really love someone, you’ll sacrifice anything to make them happy.
If God could love me so much that he can sacrifice his only son so that I can be forgiven for all of my sin, then I can sacrifice sinful pleasures and sinful thoughts, because I love him.
This meant, be nicer to my siblings, obey mom and dad, etc. But the sin that kept nagging me the most, was that I needed to stop being sexually active with my boyfriend. When I say nagging I mean that when I asked God is this what you want, he gave me the answer through the word. I prayed and he affirmed that this was what he wanted, not just for him, but for us.
So a few months ago I told my boyfriend about the book of Hosea, and I told him that God was calling me to do this, so that I can understand God’s love for me.
Christianity is unlike any other religion. All other religions require you to do things to be accepted. But in Christianity, we are accepted from the beginning When we understand that acceptance, we say, “God, I hand my life over to you.”
Galatians 2:20, ESV says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
It’s not that I am fearful of God, it is that I love Him and he knows what’s best for me. And if that means being abstinent, then I shall be abstinent because he has a glorious plan for me…and he has a glorious plan for you.
My boyfriend is a Christian but he didn’t understand the importance of abstinence until marriage. So when I told him, he asked lots of questions. He had concerns, but our relationship is stronger than it has ever been before in our new-found abstinence. This opened a door to our faith, and created a new conversation as to why we do these things that God calls us to do. Our decisions and conversations always come back to what God wants, and what God’s plans are. We understand each other better on an emotional level because we are forced to be intimate emotionally.
Our decision also created an opportunity for my boyfriend to understand what being in a relationship with God means. I didn’t want him to be abstinent just because I said so, I wanted him to be abstinent for himself. Because not only do I need to find and understand my worth, but he does as well.
And last but not least, my relationship with God is unlike it’s ever been before. God promised me it’d be worth it, and so far he’s kept his promise.
In Ezekiel 36:26 God says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
With my new heart and spirit I am able to love myself the way I deserve.
Now a note on temptation: Temptation is real, and we will be tempted. But God sent down Jesus so that he could understand what it is like to be human. To know what it’s like to be tempted, to know what it’s like to be lonely, to know what it’s like to be afraid, so that one day he can help us through. God is our mentor and our counselor, and he understands what we feel. So we must ask him for strength. Even if we mess up, he will forgive us when we repent.
And when he decides it’s time to let us know that our behaviors need to change, he will make it clear. He’ll play us a song on the radio, he’ll speak to us through a friend, he’ll somehow get us to a meeting like The Beauty Project or the Annual Oasis Retreat, until we truly know, that we are his and he is ours.
And the world will tell us, we’re wrong. They’ll tell us, we’re crazy. But the world is not our Father, our Groom, or our God.
The world will tell you that you’ll forever be a shriveled up flower, but to God you can always return to the beautiful pure flower that you are.
God promises us this in Psalm 51: 7, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
He not only forgives us but restores us with new skin and new petals so that we may understand our value and his love for us.
You know that feeling when it’s just so hot outside, the only thing that could give you some type of relief is jumping into cold water? Well, that’s what forgiveness feels like.
Picture this: You’re standing on the edge of the pool, cars are honking on the street, your friends are talking, you’re hot, uncomfortable, and sweaty. Then you jump, and you hit the water. And the feeling of relief washes over you, your ears are masked with water, you can’t hear the chatter and noise above, and everything is still. This is what it feels like to be forgiven. Your body is cleansed from sin and God rinses our souls, making them new. And when you emerge from the water, the world looks and feels different.
Today I am a like that flower I told you about – fresh and pure. Because of who God is, I have no shame, no guilt, no condemnation. Jesus died on the cross for this. I am forgiven.
We are forever his bride, and he’s forever our groom.
Sarah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.