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Hosea & Gomer
by John Piper

The old man and his wife sat by
The winter fire and looked out high
Above the plains of Ephraim,
And saw around the last regime
Of Israel the shadows snake
Their way from east to west and take
Possession of Samaria.
“How long until Assyria,’
They thought, “would break Hoshea’s rod,
And violate the wife of God?”

But strange as it may seem, the doom
They saw across the land left room
For hope. And when they looked into
Each other’s eyes, as they would do
At night, they knew, as none could know
But they, that God would bend his bow
Against the charms of foreign men,
And take his faithless wife again.
They knew it could and would be done,
As surely as the rising sun
Drives darkness back unerringly,
And drowns it in the western sea.
They knew, because they had rehearsed
The tragedy and played it first
Themselves with passion and deceit.

“It’s true that life is far more sweet,”
Hosea thought, “when it is lost,
Then bought again at dreadful cost;
And love grows strong when it must wait,
And deep when it is almost hate.”

Such things as these he often said
To Gomer as they watched the red
And crimson echoes of the sky
Descend Mount Tabor’s cliffs and die
In darkness far below. And she
Would say to him, “Your love for me
Was like a mountain waterfall,
And I the jagged stone. Of all
The knives and hammers once applied
None made me smooth or clean. They tried,
But harlotry was in my blood,
Until your love became a flood
Cascading over my crude life
And kept me as your only wife.”

They knew as none but they could know
What it would mean that long ago
The Lord allowed his love to swell,
And married faithless Israel.

The passing of the years now found
The children grown and gathered ’round
This night: Jezreel and Loammi,
Hosea’s sons, and at his knee
Loruhamah. The room was sweet
With memories, and each replete
With pleasure and with ample pain.
Among the memories one main
Experience above the rest
Embraced them all. It was the best;
Indeed it was the mountain spring
Of every happy stream from which
The family ever drank, and rich
With hope. It was Hosea’s love.
The children stood in wonder of
The way he loved, and Gomer too.
But this had not always been true.

Hosea used to say, “It’s hard
To be a seer, and prophet bard.
The price is high when he must sing
A song of ruin over everything
In lyrics written with his life
And lose his children and his wife.”

And so it was, Hosea heard
The Lord. It was the strangest word
A holy prophet ever got:
And every pointed precept shot
Like arrows at Hosea’s life:
“Go take a harlot for your wife,”
Thus says the Lord, “And feel with me
The grief and pain of harlotry.
Her father’s name is Diblaim;
He makes fertility with cream
And raisin cakes. He will not see
Her go without a price, for she
Has brought him profits from her trade.
Now go, and let her price be paid;
And bring her back and let her bear
Your son. Call him Jezreel. For there
Is coming soon a day when I
Will strike and break the bloody thigh
Of Jehu’s brutal house, and seal
With blood the valley of Jezreel.

And after that, though she’s defiled.
Go in, and get another child,
And make your tender face like rock.
Call her Loruahmah and lock
Your heart against all sympathy:
`Not pitied’ is her name. No plea
From faithless Israel will wake
My sympathy till I forsake
My daughter in the wilderness.

Now multiply once more distress:
Hosea, go beget a son,
For there is yet one child to shun,
And call him Loammi, in shame,
For `Not My People’ is his name.”

Hosea used to walk along
The Jordan rim and sing the song
His father Beeri used to sing.
Sometimes the tune and truth would bring
Him peace, and he would pause and look
At all the turns the Jordan took,
To make its way down to the sea,
And he would chant from memory:

Think not, my son, that God’s great river
Of love flows simply to the sea,
He aims not straight, but to deliver
The wayward soul like you and me.
Follow the current where it goes,
With love and grace it ever flows.

The years went by, the children grew,
The river bent and Gomer knew
A dozen men. And finally
She left and traveled to the sea,
And sold herself to foreign priests
Who made the children serve at feasts
Until they had no shame.
And then
The God of grace came down again,
And said, “Hosea, go, embrace
Your wife beside the sea. And place
Your hand with blessing on the head
Of Loammi, and raise the dead
Loruhamah to life in me,
And tell Jezreel that I will be
For him a seed of hope to sow
In righteousness. Hosea, go,
The gracious river bends once more.”

And so the prophet loved these four
Again, and sought them by the sea,
And bought them with the equity
Of everything he owned.
That was
The memory tonight, because
Hosea loved beyond the way
Of mortal man. What man would say,
“Love grows more strong when it must wait,
And deeper when it’s almost hate.”

Jezreel spoke softly for the rest,
“Father, once more let us be blessed.
What were the words from long ago
That gave you strength to love us so?
Would you please bless us with your rhyme,
And sing it for us one more time?”

“Think not, my son, that God’s great river
Of love flows simply to the sea,
He aims not straight, but to deliver
The wayward soul like you and me.
Follow the current where it goes.
With love and grace it ever flows.”

“And children,” Gomer said with tears,
“Mark this, the miracle of years.”
She looked Hosea in the face
And said, “Hosea, man of grace,
Dark harlotry was in my blood,
Until your love became a flood
Cascading over my crude life
And kept me as your only wife.
I love the very ground you trod,
And most of all I love your God.”

We’ve been SO busy.
It’s fun, though!

On the 15th, Lydia fell out of a buggy at Target (I’m a HORRIBLE PARENT!) and ended up in the ER.  I think it was one of the scariest moments of my life… carrying her limp little body!  She wouldn’t talk or cry.  She was WHITE and then started vomiting!  It was TERRIBLE!  What made it worse is that Daddy wanted me to go to the ER… NOTHING is EVER a big deal to Daddy… so if he’s sending you to the ER, you know it’s a big deal!  THEN he said to go to the CLOSEST hospital, which isn’t HIS hospital!  He didn’t even want me to take the extra 5/10 minutes to go to his… so then I was REALLY worried!  Lydia mustered a brave smile, though, when she heard me say, “Pop”.  She’s fine… she’s back to her old shenanigans.  I’m glad that’s over and I never want to go there EVER again!  That night, after all was said and done and Lou rested a bit, we went to Granny’s and Pop’s.  Lydia did well until we were getting ready to leave.  She was sitting near the grand piano, playing on the floor with something and she got up and conked her head AGAIN!!!  She became very clingy and then on the way home started throwing up all over the car.  It was terrible AGAIN!It’s over and done now. 

No more, God, PLEASE?!?  EVER!?!

On the 18th, Noah turned 5 and I couldn’t turn off the tears!  He’s so big!  He’s so GREAT!  I don’t care what anyone else thinks or says… he is truly the greatest boy on the planet.  His conversation is WONDERFUL!  I love to just lay across the bed, TALKING with him about all sorts of things.  God, rockets, the world, friends, toys, ideas, stories… EVERYTHING!  When he saw me tear up, he said, “It’s okay, Mom.  I’m always going to be YOUR little boy!”  He is SO intuitive!

Other than that, we’ve been getting ready for Christmas.  Parties, presents, food… lots of food.  Why is it excusable to be a glutton at holiday time?  I know to God it isn’t… but it seems the world winks at it.  Help me, God, not wink at it.  Give me self-control!

I have been reading more… by myself.  Usually, my reading is to the children… or in preparation for Sunday school… or reading my bible and books about the bible and books about theology and ethics and books about dead people and all kinds of stuff that is good and healthy… but it’s been so long since I’ve read a NOVEL!  Not a great piece of literature… not Charles Dickens or William Faulkner… not Virgil or Tolstoy or Kafka or Boccaccio… but just a paperback! 

After finishing Infidel, I started Hitler’s Willing Executioners (determined to make reading a part of my lifestyle again)  I put it down, though, when my friend Robin told me to read “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.  It’s a paperback novel that puts a spin on the Hosea and Gomer story… it’s set during the California gold-rush… and, since it was seeing Christ and the mercy of God in that very biblical account that God used to redeem ME… I said SURE!  I also LOVE Robin and wanted to read it because SHE loves it! 

So… I read it.  I didn’t get anything done for days… I sent my children to play with blocks and read books (which they do happily) and I didn’t get a thing done!  My laundry is a mountain, now!  At any rate, it was WONDERFUL!  Not great literature… but OH!  Oh!  My heart, even now, swells at the thought of it! 

Read it, if you can!  Husbands… READ IT!  Wives, READ IT!  Single girls and guys, READ IT!  Widows and widowers, READ IT!  It’s a quick read (unless you cry the way I did… makes for some difficulty when the words blur on the page). 

Charles reaped some fun benefits from my reading it.  Of course… I DID mess up once.  He walked in the door, pulled me to him and kissed me and I looked up at him and sighed, “You’re not Michael Hosea.”  I am such a CRAP wife!  Everyone knows that Charles is so much BETTER than Michael Hosea… and besides… it wasn’t Michael Hosea who was so great… READ it and you’ll see! 

When you read it… you can’t help thinking that Michael’s love for “Angel” is just a drop in the bucket compared to Christ’s love for ME!!!  And when you think about how gross “Angel” is… you realize how much worse you are… even if you aren’t a prostitute… you see the blackness of your heart… which while no one around you may see… the God who made you sees it… 

I could go on forever… but I must shower and get ready!  Je dois aller à l’église.

More rambling later!  Read the book and finish more in love with Christ than ever! 

Be romanced by the King of Glory!!!  Woohoo!!!  YES!!!

Okay… I’m really done, now. 

©PortCityPrincess 2007
All Rights Reserved

Currently reading :
Redeeming Love
By Francine Rivers
Release date: 09 May, 2005
Fun speech made (a year ago) by my hero!
:o)

My mom had a fun point.  She said, “Little does she know that it’s Christianity that is the foundation of the Ladies’ First mentality, certainly not feminism or atheism.”

Anyhoo… enjoy this fun tidbit!  It left me saying, “Whoa!  Right on!”

Ladies First

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Posted: Thursday, January 18, 2007
SPEECHES
Congress of Racial Equality  (New York)
Publication Date: January 15, 2007
Bigotry has not been eliminated, but a great deal of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has been achieved in America. In large part because of the energy and activism of groups such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). But also, importantly, because the battle was being fought in a culture where individual rights had come to be understood and actively defended. A culture that values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Dr. King, if he were alive today, would be delighted to see that little black children and little white children often go to school together, sit down together for meals, and play together. He would see it as his dream come true that black and white Americans are friends, colleagues and spouses.
 
But if Dr. King were alive today he would also notice that segregation still exists. Oh, he would feel the thrill of success to learn that there are no legal barriers in the US that put black people in a position of disadvantage. But he would notice that demolishing legal barriers between citizens is only half the battle. Nothing illustrates this invisible segregation better than what happened in New Orleans last year and how the nation in turn responded–or did not respond.
 
Dr. King’s dream for equality went beyond blacks and whites. The Jewish community, for one, can relate to it through their own struggles. Sixty years ago it was the Nazis in Europe who were bent on exterminating them in the name of racial purity. Today it is a global network of radical Muslims who call for a holocaust in the name of their faith. 

On a global level Dr. King Jr. would be pleased to note that Nelson Mandela is free and that apartheid was brought to an end with the minimum of violence. But he would be deeply distressed by the combination of slave trade and genocide that continues, day after day, in Darfur, Sudan.

***

What has all this got to do with me? I have only just arrived in America and I have never been a victim of racial prejudice. By the time I was born, the part of Africa I grew up in–Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya–was independent. The white man had gone home.

The generation belonging to my parents and grandparents talked of oppression by the white man. But when the white man left, he clearly didn’t take the oppression with him. Almost all the bigotry and persecution in Africa nowadays is committed by blacks against other blacks. Proof yet again that just as virtues of kindness, generosity and inclusion transcend skin colour, so do vices of cruelty, greed and exclusion.

I am being acknowledged here today because CORE wants to take Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream beyond racial inequality. CORE wants to be a platform from where the greatest inequality of our time, perhaps of all time, can be battled.

This is gender inequality: an inequality most obscene, expressed through acts such as mutilation, beatings, rape and murder–and almost all this aggression is justified in the name of culture and creed. Atrocities committed against girls and women in the most intimate setting of all: in the home; by dad or mom; by a brother or a sister; by a husband or his mother. The sort of persecution I talk about is one in which the religious leaders, the politicians, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, all share the staunch belief that girls–that women–are born of a lesser god.

I was born into this culture. And I stress my emphasis on the word “culture”.

When I first came to a Western country, I was astonished to find men who said, “Ladies first”–yes, ladies first. I was amazed because I was born and raised in a culture that put me last because I was born a girl; where I was confined, because of my gender; where all the burden of what is considered good sexual conduct was for me to bear because I am female.

Whereas here in this culture, where men say “ladies first”:

  • I saw how couples often struggle together to carry the burden of parenthood.
  • I saw how parents prepare their sons and daughters equally to learn the skills of securing a livelihood.
  • I saw how schools and even governments coach boys and girls in understanding and restraining their sexuality.

If I allow myself to be inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., then my dream is that those lucky enough to be born into a culture of “ladies first” will let go of the myth that all cultures are equal.

Human beings are equal; cultures are not.

A culture that celebrates femininity is not equal to a culture that trims the genitals of her girls. 

A culture that holds the door open to her women is not equal to one that confines them behind walls and veils.

A culture that spends millions on saving a baby girl’s life is not equal to a one that uses its first encounter with natal technology to undertake mass abortion simply because baby girls are not welcome.

A culture with courts that punish a husband for forcing his wife to have sex with him is not equal to a culture with a tribunal that decrees a young woman be gang-raped for talking to a boy of an allegedly higher caste.

A culture that encourages dating between young men and young women is not equal to a culture that flogs or stones a girl for falling in love.

A culture where monogamy is an aspiration is not equal to a culture where a man can lawfully have four wives all at once.

A culture that protects women’s rights by law is not equal to a culture that denies women their alimony and half their inheritance.

A culture that insists on holding open a position for women in its Supreme Court is not equal to a culture that declares that the testimony of a woman is worth half of that of a man.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of racial equality has become a reality for some and remains a dream for many. It has become a reality for the few people privileged enough to live in this culture that values the human individual regardless of race or gender. It is this culture that provides me with the vocabulary, the legal tools, the material resources, the platforms, and most of all, the opportunity to meet like minded individuals who will stand for the rights of those fellow girls and women who haven’t been as lucky as me or you.

It is within this culture that it pays to fight for equality.

Unfortunately, it is this culture that is under threat today. Many of those born into it take it for granted–or worse, apologise for it.

So dear men and women of colour, and dear women of all colour: Let’s join together to protect this culture of life, this culture of liberty, this culture of “ladies first.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a resident fellow at AEI.

Related Links
Related speech on western versus Islamic values
Related article on women and Islam
Related article on the veil and Islamic women’s rights
Also by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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Infidel

Source Notes:   A slightly adapted version of this speech was delivered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Ambassadorial Reception and Awards Dinner, hosted by the Congress of Racial Equality on Monday, January 15, 2007, in New York.
AEI Print Index No. 21149
You can find this online at: http://www.aei.org/publication25476
Currently reading :
God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
By C. S. Lewis
Release date: October, 1994

Infidel

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Read it.  Please.  You really need to.
Then call me, or email me. 
We’ll have coffee and talk.

©PortCityPrincess 2007
All Rights Reserved