The Mercy of Being Torn (or, Goats Eating Grass)

I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue… until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me. Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 5:14-15; 6:1-4,6

Wildfires blaze and ravage, licking up property with voracious hunger until stopped by barren land, food and fuel source cut off, by… goats, who have eaten the grass. So much rending, all the stripping away of what matters to us, tears at our hearts over and over until the mercy of God steps in and says, “Enough.” His limits are perfectly measured, His intentions always redemptive. He Who overseas the raging destruction, He Who tears us into exile away from everything we deemed worthy of our worship, is He Who appoints His Spirit to convict and awaken and pierce the heart, (the goats to eat grass) until we are restored. His tearing is a mercy, an invitation. (Romans 2:4)

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Unless we are torn, we cannot be healed; unless we fall, He cannot pick us up. We must recognize our captivity and sickness in order to cry for rescue and healing. Death to self must come before we can live again, in and for Him. It is in the dying we gasp for real life, and can receive His gift with open arms. Before Him, when our shroud of self-importance falls away and we see ourselves soberly, when our charms and masks are removed, we understand that His requirements are not so many chosen-by-convenience ‘offerings’ of our own conjuring, but earnest seeking, steadfast love, a growing, deep knowledge of Him. (John 12:24-25; Romans 12:3)

When areas of my life begin to unravel, my hopes for a child or my future are rent by poor choices or circumstances, a cut stings so badly I’m consumed with the pain, would I look not to escape, but for God’s mercy in it? He will give eyes to see, and the will to persevere, as He does His purifying, sanctifying, restorative work. The process, not the alleviating of the pain, is what brings about His intended result that we know Him as our Redeemer and be formed in Him. (James 1:2-4)

Thank You, Lord, for the mercy of Your tearing, and for sending goats to eat the grass to stop the fire at Your appointed time. May I learn to yield to Your redemptive hand and daily press on to know You better.

 

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