Tender Words of Love

Seaside wildflowers at Glass Beach, California

Seaside wildflowers at Glass Beach, California

We talked last week about how God speaks tenderly to us in the wilderness (Hosea 2:14).  When He speaks to us, it heals the scars on our hearts; it renews and revives us.

Mt. Baker from the Canyon Ridge Trail

Mt. Baker from the Canyon Ridge Trail, Washington

One of the things that I’ve discovered about God’s tender voice in the wilderness is that His voice is always full of love.  Even in correction, He’s full of love.  Even if we have failed Him, He’s full of love.  And He’s still willing to speak tenderly even in those situations if only we will listen.

Dundee Creek, Wyoming

Dundee Creek, Wyoming

That’s the context of the passage in Hosea.  The people wouldn’t listen, so God took them someplace where they could hear Him.  As soon as they were willing to listen, He didn’t say, “Good, now you’re listening, so I’m going to judge you and give you what you deserve.”  Instead, He said, “I will speak tenderly to [you]…I will betroth you to me forever… and all will lie down in safety.” (Hosea 2:14, 18, 19)

Meadows beyond the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail in the Mt. Baker Wilderness of Washington

Meadows beyond the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail in the Mt. Baker Wilderness of Washington

It’s one of the things that we have trouble understanding as children of God.  We’re very used to the idea of sowing and reaping – we’ve sown failure and disappointment, so we expect God to be disappointed with us and judge us.  We know it’s what we deserve, and sometimes, sowing thorns does reap thorns.  But just because we are reaping thorns, so to speak, doesn’t mean that God is angry with us.  He’s still willing to speak tender words to us in the wildernesses of our lives.

Early spring hiking in Abraham Lincoln Park, New York

Early spring hiking in Abraham Lincoln Park, New York

We see it over and over again with the children of Israel.  Reading through the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament, it’s the same story over and over again for the people God loves: “You won’t listen to Me, you won’t repent and turn away from your wicked ways, I’m going to have to judge you.  But even yet, if only you’ll turn back to Me with your whole heart, I’ll relent.”  In the darkest wickedness of Israel’s sin, God was ready to forgive them and restore them in His love – to speak tender words if only they would turn their hearts to Him.

Misty views from the Jewell Trail on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

Misty views from the Jewell Trail on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

One of the incredible things about the tender words of God is that fear vanishes when they are spoken – His love not only replaces fear but drives it out (1 John 4:18).  Fear is not God’s perfect plan for you.  So He comes in love and speaks tender words to you in the wilderness so He can fellowship with you and work His perfect plan.

Poppies near Glass Beach, California

Poppies near Glass Beach, California

Sometimes we fear God’s judgment – but it’s His love that casts out the fear.  In the wilderness, He will speak tender words to us and restore us in His love.