But I will fence her in with thornbushes.
I will block the road to make her lose her way.
Hosea 2:6 NLT
Instead of asking God for exactly what you want, have you ever instead simply asked him to keep you from what he DOESN’T want? A friend of mine prayed like that for me once and I have been doing it ever since. It makes my relationship with God a lot less “Santa-ish” and it’s actually helped me almost completely stop worrying about making the wrong decisions in life. (Now I just worry about how I’ll botch the RIGHT one… Haha.) But in all seriousness, the really awesome thing about asking to be kept from the wrong thing/decision/event is that it keeps my focus on asking God to 1) keep me from evil AND 2) leave what is good open to His interpretation, not mine.
But I’ve still wondered for quite some time how exactly God would keep me from making the wrong decisions. It’s not like life in the Old Testament when I can just hike up a mountain and have a face-to-face with him. I’ve had some ideas about how it might work, but then, just this past week, God gave me the coolest answer to my wondering as I started reading Hosea.
In chapter two of the book of Hosea, a prostitute named Gomer is bound and determined to make a very bad decision. She has decided to continue sleeping with multiple partners even once she is married to the prophet Hosea. Then one day, even without her asking for God’s help, he steps in and protects her from walking through a dangerous habit “door”! Check it out:
“Their mother is a shameless prostitute and became pregnant in a shameful way. She said, ‘I’ll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and water, for clothing of wool and linen, and for olive oil and drinks.’
For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes. I will block her path with a wall to make her lose her way. When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think, ‘I might as well return to my husband, for I was better off with him than I am now.’ “(Hosea 2:5-7 NLT)
So, notice what he uses to redirect Gomer (and us today?):
- “fence her in with thornbushes“: God knows what a powerful deterrent pain can be. I can think of several times in my life where I made a right decision simply because the wrong one was more painful.
- “block her path with a wall to make her lose her way“: Ever lose your train of thought mid-sentence? Could that be God nudging you to find another train?
- “she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them“: When I put my best efforts into something but am still unable to succeed, God might be telling me to stop and put that energy into another direction.
- “she will search for them but not find them“: Sometimes the opportunity simply ceases to exist before you can even pursue it.
In short, it sounds as though we should start thanking God for some of what we might refer to as our greatest failures. When life is changed by pain, loss, decreased ability or lost opportunities, that could be the hand of God keeping us from a dangerous or ultimately sinful path.
This month I’m going to make it my focus to thank God each time I experience pain, loss, failure or any other type of “closed door.” I might even put up this Bible verse on one of the doors in my home as a reminder. A reminder that a closed door might be one of the most tangible expressions of God’s love for me in my life today.
Dear Lord, you can see far beyond what my simple eyes can. I ask you – with your perfect vision – to close all the doors in my path that you do NOT want me to walk through. Remove temptations from my way. I want to stop wishing and whining about missed opportunities when YOU are the best opportunity. Thank you for your protection and grace. Amen.