When I was pregnant the first time, we were enamored with the idea of how to name our child. Names are so important. My Mom named me after a character on General Hospital for crying out loud and I lived for years wondering how I had ended up without dark, curly locks and a smoldering look like Kim Delaney.
I wanted the name for this special child to encompass how thrilled and terrified we were and what kind of person we were already praying s/he would become.
I’m the oldest of four girls. I’ve been around women my entire life. Girls names? In the bag. We hemmed and hawed over whether Esme might be too hard for friends to pronounce, if Violet was too old fashioned, if Cecelia would always make me think of Paul Simon and if Ruby might not be something she could grow old with. Each one had it’s appeal ( and as you know, it was Ellie that won in my second pregnancy due to it’s whimsical nature and it’s solid rooting in a woman we have known and loved) but we were at a loss for a single, solitary boy’s name.
We tossed around the good ole’ names. The strong, biblical ones like Luke and Noah. But they never seemed quite right. We went directly to our hippie roots and threw Arlo and Levon in the mix, but they never fit either. I loved Amos, Rich thought cookies. I loved Rowan, Rich saw Mr. Bean. It was hopeless.
We started researching and reading and pouring over baby name books and it was separately, together, that we came to the one and only boy name we have ever agreed on: Hosea.
Hosea has always been a favorite OT book of mine but I had long forgotten it’s significance.
Hosea was a man who chose to follow God no matter the consequences. He married a woman he knew would be unfaithful to him. What?!?!?!?! And had children with her. What?!??!?!?! It’s meant to have that kind of impact on your heart. Hosea’s love for Gomer was symbolic of how Christ loves his church- an unfaithful, mess of folk- with a relentless, unfailing love free and clear of judgement. He took ALL of her, at face value, just as she was.
Hosea represented everything we prayed for in a son. A man willing to do the hard thing, the often unpopular, even contrary at times thing, to follow Christ. A man who would be faithful to the unfaithful. A man who pushed aside all societal expectations, quieted all others input and listen to God’s voice on the matter first.
Hosea was both rebellious and heroic. Steady and unlikely. He had a heart as big and as deep as a canyon, who kept on loving even after he had been broken time and time again.
We never had the chance to give that child a name. But the man Hosea has stayed with me and I am most thankful for this beautiful, painful reminder, particularly this week.
Sometimes we are called to do the difficult thing. The thing that makes no sense to anyone else- even people we love and value. Sometimes we are called to be brave and heroic in the face of circumstances beyond our control and all we have is a tiny, mustard seed belief that God loves us and we are his.
But, ALL the time we are called to LOVE. Love like Hosea loved Gomer. With a relentless, tenacious love. For people who may not love us back. Who might be unfaithful, just as we are unfaithful. Hosea loved Gomer like Christ loves the church. That’s US.
The unfaithful ones. The prostitutes. The whores. The idol worshippers. That’s ME. And God loves us with an extravagant love so rich and unfathomable it brings me to my knees. The way Hosea saw the dirt and grime from the street where his wife worked and grasped hold of her and took her for who she was. All of it. That’s what He did for me.
How can we not do the same for others?