Brennan Manning was an amazing man of God who said, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” The Bible is about this kind of radical love. In the book of Hosea, Gomer was loved despite all the ways she hurt her husband and God. Hosea was instructed by God to marry a woman he knew would betray him. What courage, what obedience. But even greater is how God uses this story to tell of His love for His beloved people, Israel. He gave them everything and they betrayed Him for the lust of other lovers. Many of us know the hurt and pain unfaithfulness causes. In the midst of this betrayal, God shows love and mercy. Reading Hosea 2:14-23, God makes an amazing declaration for Gomer and Israel then, and more importantly to us today:

“Therefore, I am now going to allure her;

I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards,

and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope.

There she will sing (respond) as in the days of her youth,

as in the day she came up out of Egypt (slavery).”

Where is there for Gomer, for Israel? Where is there for us today? Where is God taking you to know and hear His tender voice, redeem what you once had, and find a door of hope from the trouble you face? There was a desert for Gomer, Israel and Jesus. But there they get back the vineyards, hope and an opportunity to respond to the One that provided the mercy and love to get back what they once had–a relationship with radical love.

The desert is a dry place where thirst and hunger are not satisfied. It is hot, and without provision death comes fast. It is not a place of vineyards and hope. But there was where God was and he was at work to draw back a people, not His people, to be His beloved. He loved in the midst of His pain, as they and we chose other lovers.

Maybe your desert place, your there, is the very place God is drawing you to renew your true identity as radically loved by God? It is in desolation and desert places of the heart that God desires to speak tenderly to you and draw you back to what has always been there – God the Father’s love. God goes on in these verses to declare His commitment to an undying relationship in an unbreakable covenant of love for Israel and for us today: 

“I will betroth you to me forever;

I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,

in love and compassion…”

Jesus Christ has fulfilled this promise and has betrothed us to Himself. He is the Bridegroom and we are His beloved Bride, the Church. He has given us everything. In this season of love may we all be willing to go there with our Lover. Let God satisfy our true longing with His radical love because “beloved by God” is our true identity.

(Please play “Love Like This” by Lauren Daigle. Let’s celebrate True Love today!)