A reflection on Hosea 11: 1-11
There is a refrain that we hear in this passage from the prophet Hosea whose echo reverberates through much of Scripture. It is a warning not to lose sight of God. Not to let the distractions and concerns of this world so cloud our perception that we no longer see God and in not seeing, slowly lose interest in nurturing our relationship with the Holy One. In Hosea's lovely and lyrical passage, God laments that God's people "are bent on turning". God's beloved children, who God has raised with the tenderness of a new parent are now distracted by other things of their own making and lose sight of the one who brought them into being and "led them with the cords of human kindness."
I have to admit that I can find this refrain a bit irritating for at first reading it sounds like God is asking that we make an either/or choice between the cares and concerns of this world and right relationship with God, and I for one have far too many responsibilities and commitments that I care about to simply set it all down and walk away.
This dichotomous thinking, however, I believe is erroneous and a misreading of biblical teaching. I believe that God is not asking us to abandon that which fills our days. Instead, we are being warned not to abandon God in the midst of that which fills our days. After all, as the equally lovely "Consider the lilies" passage (Luke 12:22-34) reminds us, Our Father knows what it is we need. God is not out to take this from us only to insist that we do not let the things we need in order to survive and to thrive become the purpose of our living. The purpose of our living is to grow in love of God and of our neighbor.
To do that, we are instructed to go to God even when the clerk in the grocery check-out line is taking much too long; even when worry grips us because it is past our child's curfew and she is not yet home; even when the suffering of the innocent threatens to overwhelm us and despair crouches at our door. If this refrain warns of a choice we must be careful in making, it is not to choose God over the world. Instead, we are to see God in the world and to choose to walk with God through all that fills our days, whatever that may be.
May I walk with God in the midst of the demands of this day. May I ask for help in my pain and may I offer thanksgiving in my gladness. AMEN