Have you ever considered God to be your first love, only to become distracted somewhere along the path of life? Have you ever considered the deepest longing of your heart being that of God wooing you back to Himself, and the trials along the way preparing you for that relationship?
In Part One of Pursued By Love, we looked at the story of Hosea as a profound picture of God’s abounding love and mercy, designed to magnify His free gift of grace, rather than the abandonment that we deserve.
Because we’ve been distracted along the path, the love of God allures us and brings us to the wilderness within our soul where His love doesn’t leave us the same.
Isolated from our distractions, God uses the wilderness to draw us to Himself. Spiritually for us today, the wilderness may be a time of trial or wandering. It is a spacious land where we come parched and are meant to leave transformed. It is the place within our soul where we are nourished, strengthened, and renewed; a land where we are emptied of our idols because they lack the power to provide what we’re longing for and stripped of our pride because we lack the power to fulfill them. The wilderness makes us poor in spirit so that we humbly recognize our need for God, turn to Him in our poverty, listen to His voice and receive the blessing that comes only in needing Him entirely. Only in our vulnerability and complete surrender, free from distraction and noise, can He incline our wandering hearts toward Him.
There are many examples of (literal) wilderness experiences in the Bible, one of which can be shown in the life of David in Psalm 63. David, in the dry wilderness of Judah, thirsts for God. Through the wilderness, he is humbled by the bitter fruit of his sin and longs for God’s presence in the sanctuary. However, he quickly recognizes that he can be satisfied by meditating on God right where he is. Fixating his mind on God, David turns from longing to praise of God’s enduring love as better than life. Shut out from his normal public practices David experiences abounding secret communion with God in joyful expectation.
This is just one picture of the purpose of our wilderness experience and the tender, lovingkindness God offers through it.
Another meaning for wilderness according to its Hebrew origin, midbar, is poetically described as an instrument of speech, the mouth. Here in the solitude of the wilderness––our trial or wandering, God will speak tenderly to our soul, like a young man wooing his girl, will comfort us with His promise of an abundant life in relationship with Him, and will remind us of His passionate courtship from our youth and our marriage covenant with Him.
Where vineyards have produced bitter fruit because our sin nature has cut us off from the life-giving root that is God, He will restore the vineyard. A fruitful vineyard within a dry and weary wilderness is nothing less than the working of a miracle––His presence lived out in us.
He will transform the Valley of Achor, which is the depth of our troubles––where we are found guilty and judged––into a door of hope. No longer will we misplace the longing of our hearts, but will discover the opening for a transformed life. God’s restoration through grace is so great, it will transform our trouble into restored joy.
And through the wilderness we will deeply desire, once again, our first Love.
Although the wilderness may seem risky and uncomfortable, it is utterly romantic for the way God pursues us, tenderly comforts us and ultimately offers us grace through Christ, who says I love you so much I would do anything to rescue you from the slavery you have been in. I took on your debt and paid the price for your freedom with my life. I defeated death once and for all so that we could be together forever. Will you take up your cross and follow me?
Like David, we too can experience the abounding secret communion with God in our times of wilderness.
The wilderness can be a time of trial and of wait, but is ultimately an invitation to worship and to be transformed.
Through the wilderness, God intimately speaks to our hearts so to reset our minds to effectually bring about the change in our lives that leads to abundance in Christ right here, and ultimately prepares us for meeting our bridegroom face to face one day.
Like Hosea and Gomer, there will never be a time when God won’t receive one of us back, regardless of how many times we’ve wandered off, how many times we’ve hidden in the tents of self-gratification, or how many times we’ve raised our defenses rather than our white flag of surrender. He pursues us even when we’ve wandered from Him because He is faithful to the marriage covenant and ready to renew it with us.
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At Bought Beautifully, we have the honor to witness God’s love pursuing lives around the world through ministries we partner with like Threads of Hope, whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty through strategies that empower the economically disadvantaged. Today, we are landing in Peru - a wilderness for us in the sense that we hope to leave transformed and even more in awe of God’s love. Follow along with us as we spend time with time with our partners, learn from them and share in their lives…