I just finished the book of Hosea in my devotions (and I may just read it over again, it was so enlightening!), and I happened to look back at a passage I highlighted in chapter 11. This may be one of my favorite poems by none other than my favorite poet: God Himself. Passages like this remind me that the Bible is one long love letter from God, the lover of our souls. He is by far the most forgiving, gentle-hearted, romantic Person I know.
Verses 3 and 4 of Hosea chapter 11 read something like this (God is speaking):
"I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them."
This is by far the sweetest, most precious piece of poetry I have ever read -- and it was written by God Himself. More than that, it was written for me, His child. It was written for you. It was written for all the children of Ephraim, or Israel, whom He loved and loves to this day so dearly.
I love the tenderness of the image conveyed in the first two lines. Have you ever observed a parent teaching their young child to walk? It is one of the most precious things you will ever see. The parent takes the little toddler by the hands ever so gently, and with a loving voice, coaxes them to take those revolutionary steps forward. How incredible that God does so with us! He is there to help us walk through each new step of our Christian faith, because our little legs can certainly be unsteady sometimes. He holds our arms, guides us, and will be ready to catch us should we fall.
He draws us not with the chains of bondage, but with gentle cords, with bands of love. Have you ever heard language so sweet? This is God's message to us! He is all gentleness and love. And He draws us; He does not force us, screech at us, or use invectives toward us. He takes the yoke off of our neck; He does not put it on. He sets the captives free (Isaiah 61:1) and takes away all of our burdens (Matthew 11:28).
And the craziest image may be in the last part of verse 4: He "stooped and fed them." Can you imagine? The God of the heavens, the Supreme Creator of the universe, the omniscient Being who reigns over all the earth with omnipotence, stoops down on His knees to feed us? The Almighty God humbles Himself by bending down to give us nourishment. What is His nourishment? He feeds us with His love, His Word, His kindness, His mercy ... the list is endless. What kind of God is this? It causes me to remember one of the most touching scenes of humility in the Bible: Jesus washing the disciples' feet in Matthew 13.
Once again, we see this image of God stooping, for Jesus is indeed God manifested as a man. It boggles my mind each time I think that when we look at Jesus, we look into the eyes and heart of God Himself. The God of the universe stoops down at the feet of His disciples and proceeds to wash their dirty feet, feet that had trampled down dusty roads, feet that had stepped in mud, in filth, in sin, in flesh, in carnality. He stooped down and lovingly washed all the grime off, to cleanse them. He wanted so desperately for them to be a part of Him, to be united with Him in friendship, to have His righteousness. So He washed their dirty feet. And He wants to do the same for us each and every day.
God is love -- the pure, unadulterated definition of love. How crazy is that?
What's your favorite love poem from the great love letter that God has written to you?