Rest in the River
I am a recovered yo-yo dieter. Do I have a witness? Every diet began with zealous anticipation and plumped up determination. My will-power began with self-disgust. Dang, I’d blown it again. That will-power lasted until yet another diet confirmed what I believed all along. I was a loser.
I pursued this dead-end path of self-improvement for years. I’d start strong, then berate and beat myself up when I failed. I agreed with Paul in Romans, “O, wretched man/woman that I am!” There you go. I had proof of my utter despicableness. Even God agreed.
I’ve been reading a fictional account of Hosea, a prophet, and the woman he married. Her name was Gomer. Gomer was not the picture of godliness. She may not have been a prostitute by profession, but she was in her actions. I used to pity Hosea. I thought God just wanted to show how He felt about His people’s unfaithfulness and Hosea got the call. Bummer.
I was wrong. Hosea’s name means “salvation”. The Israelites of his day were moving far from their covenant with God. So, yes, Hosea and Gomer were a visual for that time. But they were much more than that. They were a prophetic picture of what was to come in Christ.
Gomer was the daughter of Diblaim. His name means “given over completely to lust”. I wonder if Gomer was molested as a child. What did her innocent eyes witness and what evil transgressed her tender heart? Defilement twisted a little girl’s heart meant to be a princess and turned her instead into a prostitute. If I was God, I would rage and make that abuser pay. But God sent Gomer a husband, instead. He led her to a place of rest.
He said, “Come to Me all who labor and are burdened and I will find rest for you. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am humble and gentle of spirit. You will find peace for your heart. For My yoke is pleasant and my burden is easy.”
The Hebrew word for rest is “nuach”. It means to guide or lead another into a place of rest. The yoke is a picture of the living Word of God. Jesus doesn’t want to be distant. He wants to be connected to us. He is the stronger one, yet He is gentle. He doesn’t force us to move faster or work harder than we can. God illustrated His heart to Gomer through marriage to a godly man. Like Christ, Hosea loved Gomer too much to let her go. That life-long commitment to love had the power to cleanse a broken, battered heart. God brought her, a social reject and outcast, His best. Not just for visit, but for a lifetime. Even when she returned to prostitution, Hosea bought her back. He took back a wife he couldn’t stop loving.
What a picture of Christ’s love for us. He wants a marriage, not a visit. Gomer is a picture of healing for God’s Bride. We can come, too. We come in our brokenness, in our filth, to the place of rest Himself. He links Himself so closely with us that we move forward together in pleasant paths of grace and truth. LIfe is not difficult with Him at our side.
What keeps us from that intimate life with Him? Like my yo-yo dieting, we buy into the lie that God uses guilt to keep us in line. If we just feel guilty enough, we’ll work up enough strength to change. That thinking is light years from truth. We are precious to Him. We can look in the mirror and say, “Hey, there’s potential in you!” We can look past the faults and failings to Him. He is strong, gentle and loving. He’ll take us where we were made to go, loving us all the way.