COMPLETE IN CHRIST
She stood outside in the open and free market square, flashing her big, dark eyes, attracting inevitable attention. Determined to squeeze every ounce of admiration from her prospective ‘onlookers’ and potential ‘clients’, she glanced the busy street to see if there was anyone who saw her beyond her fragrant and fertile invitation. There was one. Quite unlike any of her previous lovers, this one drew near, with tender beckoning “Gomer, come home!”
The unfaithful bride
We don’t know what swept over Hosea’s heart when God asked him to marry a harlot. We also don’t know why Gomer succumbed to a life of promiscuity. But this we know: she was high risk to the covenant of marriage. Married to Hosea, Gomer bore him three children, but the names of those children seemed to unveil the deep brokenness of their home. Clearly, Gomer could not be trusted. Seduced by the night lights and allured by the wealth and possessions of her lovers, Gomer entered the vicious cycle of adultery, enslaving her into prostitution and leaving her marriage with pungent unfaithfulness.
How paradoxical then, that a man of God should pursue such proposition? Yet, there is so much more to the uncanny request of a Holy righteous God towards Hosea, his servant. The gripping love story of the redeemed harlot, as seen through Hosea’s dysfunctional marriage to Gomer, is a graphic picture of Israel’s sins. But it is also a staggering reminder of the grace and mercy of the lover of our soul. Though Israel’s sins cut down into the heart of God, His love is deeper still.
Though the bride is unfaithful, the great Bridegroom is not.
Poignantly, the story of Hosea and Gomer continues to speak to us generations after and perhaps even more today, to our modern and morally challenged world. How many of us are stuck in the mud of total depravity? Like a runaway bride, we turn away from God and choke ourselves with the slavery of self-glory. How often do we adorn ourselves with garments of admiration and validation or escape under the allurements of imitation beauty? How often do we yearn for a love that would sweep us off our feet yet, settle for lesser love?
The big question is: will God simply stand back and let us delve into our hot mess? Or will He inconvenience Himself to step in and stop the downfall of this self-twisted heart? He will and He does. Not just for Israel, not just for Gomer, but also for us.
Chosen and Complete
Hosea means ‘my salvation’ and Gomer? Gomer means “complete”. The dictionary defines complete as having all necessary parts. In other words, ‘perfected’, or ‘made whole’. But how could Gomer be considered “complete” if she did not want to be with Hosea, or was looking for a way to run away again? She couldn’t and yet we know that the wandering bride was chosen even before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:3). Her poor choices were not a hindrance to God’s plan. She was made complete even before she ever slid the slope of promiscuity and ruin.
How many women today are stuck in the landmine of their past unable to move forward? How many wallow in self pity and resentment over mistakes and failures? How many of us are seeking perfection according to the world’s standards? Following my conversion from atheism, I found it challenging to see myself worthy, alone be called into leadership. Rather than rising from my victim mentality, I found it easier to stay there, wallowing in self pity, overwhelmed by unrealistic religious expectations and settling in through a broken lens, rather than the lens of God’s word.
On the other hand, being a planner and someone who thrives on the ‘list’, I fell prey to the mentality and label of a perfect wife, mom, house maker, and successful leader as necessary requirements for my spiritual journey. Some days I battled to find a God who liked me when I failed, other times, I worked hard to earn His love, trying to fix my broken pieces, having it all together.
Over the years, as Christ began to heal my heart, He also redeemed my self-worth. As I studied the scriptures I began to understand how I could complete all the tasks at home, in ministry or at my workplace and yet feel inadequate.
I began to learn that my identity does not arise in striving but in surrender. I was chosen before the world began.
I was chosen the moment the waters of redemption were poured over me in my infancy. I was complete even before I had even begun. I was commissioned even before I knew I had any gifts to lead God’s people.
Overwhelming Overcoming Love
It was God’s love through Hosea that pursued Gomer in her waywardness. Like a relentless lover, it was God who never stopped seeing Gomer for who she was in Him. Gomer was not seduced to come back to her husband in return for her piety; rather, she was ransomed by an overwhelming love that overcomes all things. Gomer’s immoral ways were bought and paid for with a high price – a love poured out on the cross, a love that covers a multitude of sins, and love that recklessly pursues a wandering bride with perks of forgiveness and overwhelming grace.
The story of Hosea and Gomer is a reminder that God loves us not because of our faithfulness, but because of His. He saves us not for what we do, but for who we are. He intervenes not for what has become of us but for all we can become in Him. Jesus means ‘salvation’ and Jesus is our Hosea. We are all ‘Gomer’ in some form or the other. But we are made complete in Jesus. His redemptive love justifies us before the throne of a Holy God and His blood offers us the blessed assurance that we will never have to look back and allow our past to ruin our present and our future.
No one is beyond forgiveness and restoration. No one is exempt from ‘completion’ in Christ.
A work in progress
Sister, regardless of where you’ve been or are at, at the moment, you are a work in progress. You have the assurance of a perfect standing with God because of your faith in Christ and His promises. Each day is an opportunity to rise.
Do you see yourself as complete in Christ? Why not?
Is it struggles to see your body as beautiful? Is it your efforts to save a marriage that is failing? Is it falling prey to the old lies of worthlessness and shame? Is it control, comparison and competition? Whatever it is, in the disfigured body and face of our suffering Savior, you and I are invited to come just as we are.
However incomplete we are, at the Cross we discover a love and beauty that is both therapeutic and transforming.
At the Cross, we gaze upon Him, who was stripped of all dignity and took upon our ‘immorality’ and ‘filthy rags’ in order to clothe us with robes of righteousness. Our imperfection, our inadequacy is not a sign of our disqualification. If anything, it is a sign that He “has perfected for all time”, one made in His own image and likeness.
Because of Jesus, we stand perfected. Because of Jesus, our past, present and future are swallowed in holy victory. Because of Jesus, there is no more wandering, only devoted love and deep surrender.
Sister, our lives, yes even our broken lives are testimonies of how far and how much God is willing to do to win us back to freedom and wholeness. Each new day brings new challenges, and each challenge leaves us with a choice for the conversion and completion that is ongoing. You are not done yet. The best is yet to come. So don’t lose heart. Don’t give up.
He who began a good work in you — He will complete that work, He will bring you home.