Fairytales of Faithfulness

I was rollin’ around, in my mind it occurred
What if God was a her?
Would I treat her the same? Would I still be runnin’ game on her?
In what type of ways would I want her?
Would I want her for her mind or her heavenly body?
Couldn’t be out gettin’ bogus with someone so godly
If I was wit’ her would I still be wantin’ my ex?

-from “Faithful” by Common

Being faithful.  It’s something that sounds romantic by itself.  By itself being faithful is a portrait of beautiful undying love, the kind movies and books talk about.  Being faithful is a concept Nicholas Sparks gives us.  Something that a classic R&B duo sings about.  

But when the opposite of being faithful happens, it can hurt.  It can absolutely crush and destroy someone.  

Think back to elementary school: the only thing worse than getting the note back from a girl or boy you liked and the box was checked “no” was seeing your girlfriend or boyfriend hanging out with someone else on the playground.  Then it was obvious: that boy/girl no longer put you as their priority.  Someone else had stolen their attention.

Then there was high school.  The one you may have thought was your first love had gone out with someone else behind your back.  You were forced to hear about it from some friends and were heartbroken.  Being faithful is great.  Unfaithful?  Hurts like hell.

The seriousness of those relationships hits its peak in marriages.  One spouse who dedicated the rest of their lives to spend with one person has suddenly left, giving themselves emotionally and physically to another.  The bond of faithfulness ripped like flesh from a bone, leaving behind a mess of a relationship, and worse a broken family.  Cheating hurts.  Being unfaithful drives sharp daggers into the soul, leaving wounds that can last a lifetime.

So it was with Hosea, one of God’s trusted prophets in the Old Testament.  He was told to tell the people about the need to love and trust God.  He was to tell them of God’s punishment to those who were unfaithful.  

But even beyond that, Hosea was told to be a true living analogy for God’s relationship with His people.  Hosea was commanded to marry someone who he knew beforehand would cheat on him.

"The first time God spoke to Hosea he said: “Find a whore and marry her. Make this whore the mother of your children. And here’s why: This whole country has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.” Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She got pregnant and gave him a son." -Hosea 1:2,3 (The Message)

It’s one thing to commit yourself to someone you love deeply, and then they end up cheating on you.  It’s another when God commands you to marry someone that you know is going to, at some point, be unfaithful to you.  Even more difficult, knowing you are to be faithful to them and bring them back every time they cheat.

"Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife. Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people, even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.”" -Hosea 3:1 (The Message)

There is no better picture of God’s deep, unchanging, unending and sustaining love for us.  

What we don’t see in the fairytales of faithfulness from the romance novels and the sappy chick flicks many times is the ugly side of being faithful. The side where, like Hosea, a spouse cheat and the hurt spouse sticks around.  The side where a marriage goes through a rough patch and the couple doesn’t feel close anymore. The side where after so many years of marriage, the “fire” isn’t there, so divorce is inevitable. The side where a spouse simply says “I don’t love you anymore” and walks out the door.

The incredible reality in this is our relationship with God. As children of God, we are loved by Him. His love does not end. This means no single thing you do can ever change that.  

The other gods we chase: money, fame, status, acceptance, appearance, sexual pleasure, perfect children, and important careers can never change God’s love for us.  People will leave us.  People will hurt us.  People will abandon us.  We don’t put our trust in people.  We put it in God because He never will leave us.  

The book of Hosea isn’t a pretty one.  It’s not a story of two super happy people loving each other from beginning to end.  It’s a story of God’s great love for His people, His anger over their unfaithfulness, and His grace that knows no bounds in bringing them back to Him; the very people that had abandoned Him and cheated on Him with false gods.

“I will heal their waywardness. I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out. I will make a fresh start with Israel. He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring. He’ll put down deep oak tree roots, he’ll become a forest of oaks! He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia, his fragrance like a grove of cedars! Those who live near him will be blessed by him, be blessed and prosper like golden grain. Everyone will be talking about them, spreading their fame as the vintage children of God. Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods. From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him. I am like a luxuriant fruit tree. Everything you need is to be found in me." -Hosea 14:4-8 (The Message)

Our world is thick in the business of sharing the fairytale of faithfulness.  Often, when it’s proven false, it coincides with the demands of selfishness and entitlement.

We’ve cheated on our God.  We’ve ventured into places we shouldn’t go, looking for other lovers to satisfy us.  We’ve scurried around dark street corners searching for a quick fix that will fill us with what we feel we can’t get from God.  We’ve chased after green papers and dwindling bank accounts propping money on the lordship throne of our hearts.  

God is still there.  While we wander aimless in the desert, He’s waiting at the oasis for us to return.  While we beg for scraps of food from the pig’s trough, God is setting out silverware and place settings for us to feast with Him.  

Being faithful isn’t easy.  It isn’t pretty.  But God is always faithful.  He’s waiting for us to realize that.  He’s ready for us to stop running around on Him, and commit to Him.  He’s sending His note out to you asking “will you come back to me?”  We need to check yes or no.