Therefore I am now going to allure her …
The invitation was unmistakable. The call to come away with him. He was wooing me. Pursing me. Calling me deeper. Calling me to follow him wherever he led …
I will lead her into the wilderness …
What? Didn’t I answer the call? Didn’t I leave everything to follow him? Did I do something wrong? How did the road lead here? Into this dark and desolate place … into this barrenness … into this place of drudgery and loss.
… and speak tenderly to her.
It was barely discernible at first. I wasn’t sure I was really hearing his voice. Surely I had displeased him or I wouldn’t be in this place. How could he be speaking to me with such love and compassion? But the more I listened–the clearer–the stronger–his tender words became. Until, at last, his sweet whispers of delight and destiny thundered in my soul.
There I will give her back her vineyards …
Could it be true? Was he really restoring the things I had lost? The things that had been stolen from me? The things I had surrendered to him? Even the things I had taken for granted and neglected? Was he really restoring–all things? Even the “impossible” things–the things I no longer dared to dream about or hope for?
…and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
How was this possible?! This place of humiliation … this place of interminable waiting … this place of pain and loss … this valley of trouble … it was the door? I was standing at the gateway of hope … all along?
There she will sing as in the days of her youth; as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
My heart began to soar. My soul felt lighter. Freer. The curse of barrenness was broken! I was more alive than at any time since I first met him. I could sing! I could blossom! I could thrive! I could live … even in the desert.
“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.‘ “
I began to see him differently. He didn’t change–I did. He desired only one thing all along–me. All of my heart. All of my affection. All of my attention. He wanted me to see him as he was. Not as a task-master, but as a lover. Not as one who valued my achievments, but as one who valued me. He wanted me to see him as the one I could trust–always. As the 0ne I could lean on–anywhere.
Even in the desert.
But he never intended for me–or you—to stay there.
Even now, many are waiting … many are watching … many have sensed the changing of the season … many are being awakened to love … many are emerging from the shadows … many are taking baby steps into the open … many are beginning to hear the cry …
Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?
Will it be you? Have you learned to lean?
(Hosea 2:14-16, Song of Solomon 8:5)