When I Stray
"I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them." Hosea 11:4 (NIV)
How could I have messed up, falling for that same old trap? I didn't mean to. It wasn't like I purposefully tried to make her look bad. Yet, once again, I didn't think before I spoke about a mutual friend during lunch. My careless words cast my friend in a negative light.
I felt awful and questioned if I'd ever be who I wanted to be: a woman who guards her words wisely. Though I purpose each day to live in a way that brings honor to God, some times I stray from His ways. And that was one of those times.
Later that day I threw myself into busyness to push down the shame of my conversation. But no matter how much I vacuumed, carpooled or read, the only relief I could find came through prayer.
Prayer should have been the first place I turned. It's in conversation with Jesus that He leads me away from my unwise choices and whispers, "I forgive you." He invites me to accept His forgiveness. When I mess up, Jesus' tenderness and love draws me back to Him and His ways. As Hosea 11:4 says, love is the "cord" He uses to bring us again into fellowship with Him.
God has a lot of experience when it comes to drawing back runaways. In fact, God's people, the Israelites, strayed from Him by choosing sin and walking apart from His commands. Time after time they left their Lord and time after time He pursued them... with love, as seen in Hosea 11:4. "I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them" (NIV).
God contrasts His gentle guidance with that of a farmer bringing back a runaway animal. The farmer, frustrated with the heifer's action, might drag the animal back to the pen with a heavy rope. Unlike the firm hand the farmer may have to use to lead the cattle, the Lord tells us that when we run from His best, His hand leading us home is tender and kind.
After asking for forgiveness of the friend I'd spoken with, I was glad when I discovered my words hadn't altered our relationship. The grace I received from my friend, and God, has caused me to be more careful. God's kindness makes me want to be like Him, extending that same gentleness in my words and relationships.
Some days, our sin weighs us down and leads us far from the Lord. Yet, God is there, waiting to lead us back, with love, to Him. Today, instead of being stubborn or unresponsive, let's follow God's gentle pull back to His heart and His ways.
Dear Lord, thank You that YOU don't throw me in the pit of my own mistakes. I love You for the way You love me ... so perfectly! In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Write Hosea 11:4 and have it in a handy place to remind you of the care and tenderness of your Father.
Do you resist following the Lord's lead of love? Sit in prayer today, asking Him to give you a heart of obedience.
Leviticus 26:13, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high." (NIV 1984)
Jeremiah 31:3 "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" (NIV 1984)
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