Fool Me Once, Shame on You… Fool Me Twice? Kingdom Hearts 3 and Wrestling With Reconciliation (Hosea 1-3)

I’ve really tried to move on.  Trust me, I have.  I’ve had it with the sleepless nights, the churning pit in the bottom of my stomach, the uneasy glances… I really just want to put the past behind me and make this relationship work.  But I can’t.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t accept what they have done to me. I accepted their first misstep gracefully, knowing they meant well.  The second time hurt a little more.  Now, it’s reached the point where we can’t even look at each other because I am certain they are inflicting this pain intentionally.  Of course, I’m talking about Square Enix and their continual flaunting of Kingdom Hearts 3 in my face.

I accepted that they wanted to make their little bizarre card game style spinoffs on handheld platforms, and even when they made the frustrating choice to support a dying device like the PSP I chose to understand and show grace because I’ve made some poor decisions with the best of intentions too.  But to continue to apply resources that could be giving us Kingdom Hearts 3 to instead re-releasing the original games for the THIRD time now is just too much to take.  Now they are just rubbing it in.

Obviously, the tone of this is meant to be facetious, but there is a serious challenge I would like to explore that deals with these very same and very real emotions.  Let’s start with forgiveness.  I will confess to a large amount of angst over this wonderful word throughout my life.  At various times I have struggled with forgiving others, forgiving myself, or accepting forgiveness from the Lord.  On truly special days I use a buy two get one free coupon and struggle with all three simultaneously.  In our modern society we espouse phrases such as “forgive and forget”, and many of us are aware of the guidance from Christ to forgive seventy times seven when someone commits an offense against us.  But the concept we are about to dive into carves even deeper into our heart than the simple act of giving grace to someone who has wronged us.  As Hosea is going to show us, forgiveness is merely the welcome mat in the doorway of reconciliation.

Marriage is one of the most sacred institutions the Father has given us.  Intended to be a decision to align your life with another in the pursuit of God for the remainder of your time here on earth, it is fair to say that few choices we make in life will be as impactful as our selection of a mate.  Many of us take years to reach a point of decision, others act impetuously… but I can’t imagine too many of us were assigned our life partner in the manner that Hosea received his.

Hosea was a prophet of God during one of the worst periods in history to hold such a job title.  Surrounded by idolatry and paganism within the very nation the Lord had established as His own, Hosea had a day job that meant he would endure a great amount of hostility on a daily basis.  You would think it would be fair that he could at least have the benefit of a loving and supportive spouse who shared his mission and his outreach to the doomed congregation he was burdened with reaching, but his story is about to diverge greatly from that thought.  Hosea’s life was about to become a living allegory of the relationship between God and the people of Israel.  Fair warning… we are exiting out of your “Andy Griffith Show” family setting and into something a bit more “Pretty Woman”…

The chapter starts off with a bang as Hosea is given a command from the Lord to take a wife.  So far, so good… this may have even seemed like good news for the lonely prophet until the bombshell drops. In this critical and beautiful decision for this man of God to choose his soul mate he is given only one requirement… she must be a prostitute.  Bam.  Put down the bridal magazines and stop agonizing over flower arrangements… your bride will be a woman who literally makes her living in the debauchery you have spent your life preaching against.  I can only imagine what Hosea must have felt as his life was about to become performance art, and his very special act of matrimony to become a canvas on which the Lord would tell His story.

After the initial shock of this command settled in, I can see Hosea finding a way to rationalize this and work his way through acceptance.  While Scripture simply records his act of obedience and his selection of Gomer as his blushing new bride, as a fellow flesh-and-blood man I can imagine that he swallowed his desires for a pure and chaste woman dressed all in white, broke the news to his parents in what had to be a three tissue box minimum family meeting for momma,  and decided to make the best of this arrangement.  And after three children it would seem that this unconventional start would have a happy ending after all.  Until she left him.

We don’t receive any context on why, we simply pick her story back up in chapter 3 where we find her even worse for wear.  In order to regain her as his wife Hosea has to PURCHASE her, meaning she had found her way from his loving arms into a life of both infidelity and slavery.  This is indicated both by the statement of adultery in verse one as well as the purchase price in verse 2, which was the rate for a slave.  Hosea’s wife, a woman he chose to love in spite of her sordid past, left him and he still went and found her and reconciled with her.  I’m going to let you process that and then we will begin to unpack it.

Are you ready for a deep dive into the incredible grace shown by Hosea as he moves past forgiveness and into the sacred ground of reconciliation?  It seemed like everyone in this experience was gripped by loss… Hosea lost his wife, their children lost their mother, Gomer lost her freedom, and all of them together lost innocence that could never be replaced.  But in spite of all of this losing, Hosea sees the reflection of both himself as well as the nation of Israel in Gomer’s self-destructive behavior.  I see myself too… every time I have chosen to run from the God who wants to restore fellowship with me, each time I am offered a chance for reconciliation but spurn it because I am still angry or upset, or in all of my selfish choices that damaged countless others as I pursued earthly lusts.

I wish I could relate to Hosea here…. but in my life I have been Gomer and it has been the promiscuous and reconciling love of Christ that has pursued me, not the other way around.  My choices that resulted in so much damage and loss has not dampened His love for this prodigal son, and I am so endlessly thankful that He not only forgives me, but has chosen to reconcile with me and restore me as His son.  And if you can relate to that feeling, then welcome to the survivor’s club because He searched for you amongst the castaways and reconciled with you too.

But if this was a tale about how blessed Gomer was to have a husband like Hosea, we would only have half of a story.  Christ has committed to each and every one of us the “ministry of reconciliation”.  We must pay this forward, both in our own lives as well as to seek and save our fellow Gomers in this world.  Hosea CHOSE to lose here… he forfeited his chance to woo and win a woman who shared his piety, and then punted on the chance to divorce her by purchasing her and restoring her to full standing as his wife.  There is a deep allegory here in regards to our relationship with Christ, but for Hosea this was his real life and his one and only wife.

Our losses can oftentimes be our chance to show the reconciling love of Christ the same way He demonstrated it for us.  It is through offering this gift, not only of forgiveness but of a genuine reconciliation that eliminates the misdeeds and foregoes justice in favor of grace.  By giving this freely as Hosea did, we move not only ourselves but also the one who offended us out of the Loser’s circle.  I don’t know how the love story of Hosea and Gomer ended, but despite its messy start and horrendous middle I believe the Lord allowed this relationship to continue to demonstrate His relationship with us.

He chose us, and despite our failings he purchased us while we were slaves to sin.  He reconciled our past and gifted us a future by removing our sins as far as the east is from the west.  Not because we deserve it, but because His love for us extended past our failings.  And like the servant in Christ’s parable about the man who was forgiven a great debt and then had the opportunity to forgive a much smaller one, we have opportunities each day to offer reconciliation  to those who have hurt us, those who have wronged us, and those who have betrayed us.  It is not weakness to choose reconciliation… it is a refusal to allow those losses to remain in your account.

I have been Gomer more than I want to admit, but I have opportunities now to be the Hosea to those who cross my path.   Do you have someone to reconcile with?  Show them the grace we have all freely received.  Sometimes losing grants us the opportunity to show the mercy of God to others who don’t deserve it.  God has gifted us the ministry of reconciliation… but oftentimes the reconciliation of God to one of His lost children does not occur until there has been the reconciliation of one human soul to another.

I accept that Square Enix will continue to slowly release beautiful screen shots of Kingdom Hearts 3 that taunt me with the knowledge of what could be while continuing to give me everything I didn’t ask for.  I have faith that one day, maybe this year, maybe next, they will make good on their promises from so many years ago. But until they do, I will show grace to their dalliances in undesired behavior and keep our relationship intact.  I know what they are capable of, and one day my patience and long-suffering will be rewarded.  Life is too short to hold onto pain, and it is through making the decision to reconcile even when I’ve been hurt that I am closest to following in the footsteps of my Master.

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