When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Yet I was I who taught Ephraim to walk…” Too bad they didn’t have bicycles in Hosea’s day. Because parents hardly “teach” kids to walk; that miracle kind of happens on its own. But riding a bike? Dad or Mom running alongside, offering encouragement, teaching us to keep pedaling, patching up skinned knees, and reveling in our successes? Hosea’s inspired imagery portrays God as doing what great moms and dads do: teaching, fostering, stooping down to heal, drawing a child close “with bands of love.”
Take a moment today to recall the qualities manifested by your own mom or dad during episodes of great parenting: Hosea is telling you that our God likely manifests those very same qualities. I’m thinking of the way my Abba taught me how to ride a bike; what are you thinking of?
—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.
Lord, help me to see you ever more clearly. Strip away whatever false images I have, and help me to understand you as the God that Hosea describes. And help me to be an ever better child of yours. Amen.