“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk.”
The tender image of such a father leaped off the page into my heart. I happened to turn to Hosea 11 the other night and my eyes fell to the beginning of the chapter, where God is speaking to His people through the prophet.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk.
I turned it over in my mind a few times, each time stirring up the precious memories of my own children taking their first steps.
The excitement of the days before they actually walked on their own, knowing they were getting closer and closer to a moment when their life would change forever in the best way.
The encouragement offered as they wobbled from one parent to the other, iron grip on a single finger, unwilling to let go until their feet were steady beneath them.
The patience for fall, after fall, after fall…
And now I understand a little bit more of who God is.
The Hosea passage goes on to talk about how even though God was the one fathering the nation of Israel, they turned away from him. My children are still small, still longing for the comfort of their parents and still hanging on the words we pour into them.
I haven’t known the pain of parenting a wayward child, but I know those who have.
I have witnessed their anguish over the shattering of a most treasured relationship. My heart has grieved and prayed with them as they wait on their knees for their precious one to return home.
All through the Word we see the story of a father’s heart, calling his wayward children back to himself; the very same father who taught his beloved children to walk only to have them turn away, even launching a campaign against him.
And yet, in His perfect love He forgives and restores, making a way for His cherished children to return to the place they truly belong, even though it is a costly way that leads through the death and resurrection of His only Son.
We forget, don’t we? We see God as this vending machine in the sky, or worse, we don’t think of Him at all. And yet, this stunning picture of God as a tender father awaits us in the middle of a book of the Bible that most of us have never looked at for more than a devotional verse here and there.
We are precious children. We were taught to walk by a loving Heavenly Father who has stopped at nothing to call us back home, to bring us out of our sleep and open our eyes to His powerful, life-giving, unending love.
“Come, let us return to the Lord.” Hosea 6:1a (NIV)