The last few months have been a whirlwind. Everywhere I look on social media, I see people complaining about how bad this last year has been. From a highly controversial and contested presidential election to major unrest in Syria and much of the Middle East, I know that many people have been exhausted by the overload of strife and tragedy experienced at home and abroad.
Many of my musings on this blog have centered on sorting through how the American church has been handling many of these issues, the 2016 election in particular. The majority of my posts on that subject have been rather bleak, but I stand by them, for the most part.
One thing that I came to notice over the last several weeks, however, is that many of my readers got tired of reading my various posts on the subject. I either sounded like a broken record or, amidst the noise of the innumerable voices speaking on such issues, people simply got tired of hearing about them and needed a break. I hope it was the latter, and if it was, I can certainly understand that sentiment.
I have been fairly quiet on this blog over the last few weeks. The end of a semester found me too busy to focus on any extracurricular writing. While I did appear on a couple of episodes of a friend’s podcast, I mostly haven’t spoken out much about this crazy world in which we find ourselves.
In taking that break, I noticed a little something about myself. Whenever I spent time in God’s Word, I felt as though my time there had become shallow. I would read a chapter or more a day and check it off the list. It had become meaningless and arbitrary. So, I realized that I needed to do something to change up my approach. I started journaling and commenting on what I was reading.
This, as you might imagine, made my time reading much more challenging and frustrating. I would only make it through a few verses a day, and writing alongside reading simply made the task more difficult. Yet, it produced more fruit. I had to actually stand face-to-face with the text and spend more time allowing it to challenge my assumptions (as opposed to allowing God to get in some glancing blows that never really settled in to my spirit in order to affect a deeper change). In simply reading a chapter or so a day and moving on to the next task, the Word did not have as much time to sink in.
I suppose I should mention precisely where this journey started for me: the prophet Hosea. In reading through his words, I have come to realize that the voice of the Old Testament prophets may be ones that desperately need to be reintroduced into our own day. As I have wrestled with God’s Word as it was spoken to Hosea, I have learned a lot and been challenged to the point where I have wanted to give up and go back to reading the text as I had earlier because it was not so spiritually arduous and confrontational.
After several weeks of this process, I started to wonder if it might be a good idea to share some of these thoughts, insights, and challenges that have arisen during my reading of Hosea. I feel that Hosea’s message is relevant for our time. The warnings and exhortations are ones that the church needs to hear today.
So, at the start of the new year, I will begin posting some of those thoughts in what I’ll call a series of “devotional commentaries” on Hosea. The funny thing about going into the past and studying Hosea, I’ve found, is that we may find writings and proclamations that may tell us our future.