During team time last night, we all started talking about our love languages. There are 5 different ones (gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch) and a short test you can take to help you figure out which of the five is the way you feel most loved by the people around you. Upon taking the test and getting our results, we realized our love languages had changed even since the beginning of the race. Almost the whole lot of us began wondering if we even know anything about ourselves anymore. It was a slightly dramatic realization, but when your identity is in question, it’s worth wondering about in drastic measures.
In response to this, I started writing down all the things I knew about myself for sure. Things I love, things that make me insecure, things I turn to when I feel that way, etc.
I started thinking about my past and what it looked like to walk through an obsession with affirmation…and still be running that race. So many things on the list of things that made me insecure were centered around what I looked like, which translates into an obsession with appearance. Almost 100% of the time, looking pretty was a sure fire way to receive the affirmation I was looking for from the people around me.
Going to parties and spending nights out with my friends was really really fun and it used to bother me so much when people would call me out and tell me I was empty and needed to figure out what I was missing. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I didn’t feel empty. It was just…fun.
Gradually, I began to realize I was around my people only when I looked good, because there’s some unsaid rule that states when you look good on the outside, no one questions whether or not you feel good on the inside. It was a security blanket that I used to drown myself in being social and going to parties, knowing that no one would question my motives or call me out on using it as a cop out, instead of dealing with the things deep inside. It really was just fun. And I wanted to be able to have my fun without everyone around me thinking that I was a lost cause. I hid in my appearance so that I could have the freedom to do whatever I wanted without people investigating my motives. I hid so that I could feel safe enough to blend in. To have my own idols.
I remember playing hide and seek when I was little. The whole game was my favorite. Sitting and waiting for the other person to pull back the curtain or open the door and find me.
Hiding is fun, but the true joy is in being found.
Hosea 5:4 – “Their actions do not allow them to return to their God, for a spirit of promiscuity is among them, and they do not know the Lord”
Promiscuity: the act of having many sexual relations
In his book, Searching For God Knows What, Miller writes, “Can you imagine being in a wedding, walking down the aisle toward your bridegroom, and during the procession, checking out the other groomsmen, wondering when you could sneak off to sleep with one of them, not taking the marriage to your groom seriously? …Immorality is cheating on the Creator”
In Hosea, God is chasing after the Israelites harder than ever as they continue to run and hide, time and time again. Not taking their marriage to Him seriously. He calls out to His people, “Come back to Me. If you run, disaster awaits. I’m not saying it might destroy you, I’m saying it will.”
Our sin doesn’t disqualify us from returning and repenting, it keeps us from it. Our sin is binding and hiding in it is safe. Sometimes, it’s even fun.
In verse 15, God turns away so that the Israelites may turn back to Him. The people hid in their sin. They hid in blending in, doing what everyone else was doing. They hid in their idols. All the while, they hid hoping that it would hide their hearts and they wouldn’t have to come up with explanations. I’m the Israelite, hiding by adorning myself in an acceptable appearance so I can hide even deeper in my sin, hoping that no one will ask and I won’t have to explain.
Nonetheless, the Lord prowls like a lion in guard of our hearts, doing whatever it takes to frustrate our desires for lesser loves, to thwart all our attempts to hide. He is forever jealous of our whole being and there is joy is having the dark in our hearts uncovered by our merciful Father.
It doesn’t feel joyful in the decision. It feels risky and sometimes the uncovering feels invasive and embarrassing. We don’t want Him to know. We don’t want Him to ask. We want to hide.
But it is no good, because we are already seen. We are already known. Where is there to run?
And who is the clay to talk back to the Potter?
He waits for us at the end of the aisle. Won’t we be people that keep our eyes on our groom, the one that already knows us inside and out? For He created us. He knows all our dirty tendencies and dark desires and will stop at nothing to ensure that we keep our eyes on Him alone. He blinds our peripherals and makes the allure of the groomsmen dissolve. He provides mercy in place of judgment, inviting us to Himself knowing how much we love to play the game of hide and seek.
In His presence, I remove all the decorations, and He wipes my face clean, removing my mask so that He can talk to me, only me. Unstated permission is granted for Him to ask, “child, why do you run?” The exposure is beautiful and there is nowhere I can go to hide. Nowhere He cannot reach me. My life is at stake and in the running, only destruction can follow. I await His warning and His discipline and His compassion upon welcoming me home yet again. Mercy, all mercy.
I am the Israelite, oh Father.