“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms … 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 11:3a &4 (NIV)
God interacts with his children like earthly father-daughter/son relationships. Four important truths in these verses touch the deepest places of the heart.
- We have to be taught to walk. (“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk …” Hosea 11:3a)
Just like babies go from rolling to crawling to pulling up to walking, we are called to growth in our spiritual lives. Instead of being content to remain Christian babies, lying on the floor looking cute but expecting to constantly be served, we need to anticipate growth. We’re not born into our new life knowing how to walk, but God wants us to learn. He cheers us on as we exercise our faith in the small, everyday things until our spiritual limbs grow strong enough to stand.
- God doesn’t make us learn alone. (“… taking them by the arms …” Hosea 11:3a)
When we’re stronger, He helps us to stand by “holding our arms” just like the dad did for his daughter in the grocery store. God is a compassionate Father who supports us as we toddle, protecting us from many of the bumps and bruises we would have gotten without His help. Our Father holds our hands, watching our progress with loving delight. His joy isn’t diminished by the imperfection of our steps. We’re learning, and He’s there to catch us.
- He helps us with kindness and love. (“I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.” Hosea 11:4a)
We can become so entrenched in our progress and our own efforts to walk perfectly that we forget to simply enjoy being with our Father. Like a toddler, we internally stomp our feet and declare, “I do it myself!” Instead of holding our Father’s hands and trusting in His strength and direction, we so often try to make our own way. But when we do, we miss it. We forfeit the joy of His kindness and love. Instead, let’s see our own imperfections — our wobbly steps forward — as an opportunity to grab God’s hands, lean into His strength and trust Him for the next step.
- Our Father tenderly cares for us. (“… I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” Hosea 11:4b)
Do you hear the nurturing character and tenderness of God as He cares for His children? If you’ve loved a child, you probably have memories of cuddling your cheek against the baby’s softness or of carefully spooning food into a waiting mouth. As much as we have lovingly cared for a child, God, our perfect Father, has surely set the standard in the way He has loved us. Let’s trust Him for each step and soak in His delight. He is the strong, trustworthy Father who is teaching us how to walk.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 91:14, “Because he loves me, says the LORD, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” (NIV)