Gomer’s Choice

18 Feb

[She] went after her lovers
and forgot me, declares the Lord.

Therefore, I will allure her…  Hosea 2:13-14

Forgetting God is what Gomers do.

Western culture and human nature produce one after another.  Gifted artists, raised in the church where their God-given talents are nurtured, attain a level of ability that gives them options not available to most of us.   In the myriad of choices they forget the One who gave them their talent.

Elvis Presley grew up singing Gospel songs.  After becoming famous, he continued to sing and record songs that glorified Jesus while he chased after fame and self-gratification– empty idols that seduced him away from God.  He died young (age 42) and miserable.

Whitney Houston‘s mother encouraged her to eschew fame and continue singing in church.  The lure of fame pulled her through a morass of substance abuse that ended last week in her early death.

Hosea gave his wife everything she needed.  Gifts that she used for idol worship.  Gifts she attributed to her lovers, not her husband.  (Hos 2:8)  My heart grieves for her, and Elvis, and Whitney – each so blessed and loved, and all so deluded.  They remind me of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, who went looking for her heart’s desire by running away from those who loved her best and from what, deep in her heart, she really wanted.

Gomer’s story is also Israel’s.  God provided Israel with everything she needed because of His love for her, but His chosen nation chose to worship other gods.  Throughout the book of Hosea, God exposes Israel’s idolatry.  He calls her behavior what it was – adulterous whoring.  (Hos 2:2)  He punished her severely, taking away all His gifts, and put an end to her celebration. (Hos 2:9-13)

But that’s not the end of the story.

God allures her.  He entices and woos her as a lover would to a place where they can be alone together and tenderly speaks to her.  (Hos 2:14)  He gives back everything her lifestyle took from her and promises hope where there had been trouble and despair.  Her actions called for punishment and death; He gives grace and restoration.  (Hos 2:15)

Whitney and Elvis turned away from the Source of their great talent at the beginning of their careers, one choice at a time, until what they were chasing devoured them.  Though we don’t know for sure, reports indicate that they were both seeking God in their final days.  I pray they were able to see through the veil substance abuse had erected to the Face of the Lover of their souls.

It’s the little choices.  The ones that focus attention on me, not God.  To play a fill so others notice me.  To choose a song because it features my talent.  To plan a program that fulfills my need for significance.  To imagine how people will praise me for my abilities when the worship service is over.

We each have some Gomer in us.  Whether we use the talents and abilities He gave us within the church outside of it; whether we tour in a famous band or play in a local 2-piece duo, the choice is: worship myself or God?


Heart-check for Sunday

What is my motivation for leading, playing in the worship band, designing the service, etc?  Whose glory am I interested in?

During the worship set, where does my mind go?  Am I worshiping and leading others to worship God?

The second half of Hosea 2 covers Israel’s restoration.  Because Israel did not acknowledge that all she had was a gift from God, He took His gifts back.  I have known musicians and teachers who had experienced this, yet with others (like Elvis and Whitney) God lets the gifts remain.  God cares for each of us differently, but in one respect we are all the same: He wants our hearts.  In every case God graciously calls, deep unto deep, with an offer of complete restoration – no strings attached.  Free grace.

That enables me to sing again, as when I first knew Him.


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