Often my life is viewed as a dream. It’s spun in my face that I am “the one who got away”, the one who left it all behind, the one who started over. And that’s true, I guess. I did leave. I did, in a sense, start over. Yet it’s not as glamorous as it seems. Starting over offers you millions of new opportunities, yes, but starting over also offers you millions of closed doors and missed chances. Things like Christmas with your family, stopping by mum’s house for a cup of tea, calling your childhood friend and taking her kids for the day- all these things are lost.
Over the last few years living away from “my home”, I’ve had so many moments of lament. It’s extremely raw and painful to face the reality that a yes here means a no there. My decision to accept God’s invitation to move cancelled out so many ordinary, beautiful, wonderful moments for me, and so I’ve mourned. It’s a big job, one I’m not sure I’m done with yet, and I’ve been learning so much about grief and our cultures inability to grieve well, but let’s leave that for another day. Those words deserve a space of their own.
As I’ve stacked up all the missed moments, I caught myself offering them up to God. “Here God. I gave up my family for You. I gave up my familiar, I gave up my steady income. I gave up my culture and what’s known.. it’s all for You. This is what I offer You.” I thought it was a beautiful thing, and over the years I’ve heard verse after verse preached to me about what you give up, and what God gives you in return. The double portion, or so its called. So I thought it was right, it was good, it was holy to offer these things, to remind God what I gave up in order to create my life together with Him.
And then this morning I returned to my favourite book of Hosea. Don’t read this wrong, I am not spouting on about a beautiful set of quiet moments, with my perfectly disciplined self. This was a “I really need to read my Bible again” moment, and thankfully God’s pattern of faithfulness is not based on my own. So Hosea.
I desire steadfast love, and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings
The Lord came crashing in like a wave, filling every corner of my mind until all I could focus on and hear was His voice,
Child. What is your sacrifice? What is it that you offer to Me? What are you giving up for me that qualifies you? What makes you worthy to come to Me?
I made my list. All I’ve given up, all I’ve gone through, all I’ve missed, all my tears, all my desires laid down so that I could pick up His. This, Lord, this is what I offer You. This is what qualifies me to come. This.
And I shiver as I recall how close He came, how intimately His voice sounded in my ears,
I don’t want it. Not a single bit. None of it impresses me. None of it is enough to qualify you to come to Me.
I want you.
I want you and your steadfast love. All this “It’s my burden to bear” is unwanted. I want you. Not all your meetings, financial struggles, all the things you go without in order to be here, all your tears over missing your family, all your stressed out, sleepless nights- I don’t want them as your sacrifice.
I want you.
Oh Lord, how quickly I forget, and yet how quickly you forgive.
Remind me again, always, and again, that You have made the way for me to come. It’s You, Jesus. You are enough for me, and I’ll sing it in the streets as I glide through on my bicycle, “I believe that You’re my healer. I believe You’re more than enough for me.” You want me, not my offerings, not my talents, not my gifts. None of it impresses you the way my heart does. You see straight through the mess and into my heart.
You can have my heart. You can have me. That’s all you’ve ever wanted, anyway.
Friend. Be encouraged. He’s not looking for someone to impress Him. He’s not looking for an offering so great, or a pure heart in it’s own accord. He alone purifies, He alone sets us in heavenly places, He alone, and He wants you to come. Don’t wait until you have something to offer, or until you’ve cleaned yourself up. His desire from the very beginning was to come close, so let’s drop our act and let Him remind us,
I want you. You and your beautiful mess. You.
I want you.