So far this month I’ve spent more nights away than I have at home (granted, only by two days but it still indicates how much I’ve been gone). Last week I was down in Ohio, helping my sister Christa and her husband, Jon, with projects around their house. While I was there, she introduced me to a song I’ve become obsessed with: For King and Country’s “Busted Heart (Hold on to Me).”
Late into the night last Thursday, as I scrubbed their kitchen floor till it was sparkling (well…until I ran out of my good cleaner and the flooring was as close to sparkling as it’d get), I listened to this song on repeat. I was mostly stuck on one section of the song:
Sung by a Christian band, I think it’s safe to assume these words are addressed to God. These lines reminded me of an email my friend sent me that week in which she wrote: “I will never forget the time you retold the story of Hosea to me. You opened my eyes to the beauty of God and the passion He has for His bride, however wayward she may be… Will you remember something for me? Throughout the whole story of Hosea, throughout all the faithfulness and unfaithfulness, we are never told the woman lost her beauty or ability to instill desire.” As Rebecca St. James’ younger brothers continued singing to me, while I moved across an ever whitening floor, I thought about how this song relates to the story of Hosea.
I can’t say that I remember telling my friend about Hosea, but I’m not surprised I did. It is among the Old Testament books that are particularly close to my heart. It’s about the prophet Hosea who was called by God to marry a prostitute, Gomer. God uses their story, of Hosea’s unfailing love for her despite her unfaithfulness, as an analogy for His relationship with His people. Though they break His heart, though he rebukes them and sends them out into the wilderness, He never truly lets them go.
Throughout college, when I would’ve told the story to my friend, I very much related to Gomer. I still do now, even if less so. Then the verse that meant the most to me was Hosea 2:14. God is speaking of wooing back His people: “When the day comes, says the Lord, you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’” Bitterly I had been singing “You never let me go” to God. I resented Him as one would a master. I found hope in this verse, as well as a God I can love in this story.
My friend’s words brought me back to Hosea in a new way with her comment about Gomer, about Israel, about me. Though Christians talk so much about God’s love, it’s hard to comprehend God’s desire for us. I think I’m only beginning to be able to.
For years I’ve said that God loves us not just because He made us but because He loves who we are. But it seems like only now can I grasp the depth of what that means. What it is to truly love the existence of a person. To delight in their being, even despite anger. To desire not only to be reveled in, celebrated and intimately known but to reciprocate this relation. To love someone with a passion and devotion that makes silence and distance painful. God’s love means so much more in this light. His longing for the reciprocation of His love and devotion, His righteous jealousy, is so much more coherent and justified in this light.
Throughout Hosea, God’s cry to His love is “Hold on to me.” Well…that’s not Scripture but it’s a good paraphrase. To sing these words back to God, despite instances of unfaithfulness, is to return longing for longing and love for love. It makes sense of the band’s album title Crave. I feel as if I’m only now becoming fully capable of returning this kind of love and desire.