She sat in her usual place and watched his approach.
It was nothing new to see a man approach her with intent to solicit her services.
It was the women who avoided her, casting glances of disdain in her direction and willing their husbands to look the other way.
But there was something different about this man.
He was striding purposely toward her, not casting furtive glances side to side to make sure no one was watching him. His eyes were fastened with steady gaze on her face but instead of lust gleaming in his eyes there was something else. Something she wasn't familiar with, but it stirred her deep within.
What did he want ?
She did not have to wait long.
He stood before her and respectfully addressed her by name.
It was not unusual that he would know her name, but what he asked of her was.
"Gomer, I want you to be my wife and mother of my children. I want to marry you and love you."
What kind of joke was this ? Was he drunk? Mad? She could do nothing but stare at him, her mind racing ... Was she in danger? Who was this man ?
But softly he spoke again repeating his question .... "Gomer, my name is Hosea and I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?"
She thought quickly ... what did she have to lose? A roof over her head, food to eat, what could he do to her than what other men had not already done.. over and over again.
She stood to her feet and nodded her assent.
He smiled and motioned her to follow him.
Strange, he didn't seem to be bothered by the open mouthed, stares of the people he passed as he led her away. their shock and disgust obvious.
As they walked through the city following the dusty road, Hosea, considerate of her slower pace, slowed his to match hers.
Casting furtive glances at the man a step or two ahead of her, she wondered if she could ask the questions burning in her mind but decided to wait . Finally, Hosea turned to her and said, "We stop here... come, let me show you your new home!"
It had been several weeks since Hosea had made her his wife and he had been nothing but gentle and kind to her, treating her with respect and never making any references to her former life or 'profession'.
Gomer was sure there was something she was missing. No decent man would even think to marry her, what was Hosea's angle? What did he want?
Something just didn't make sense. She felt a tension within her, she just could not accept that Hosea really did love her. How could he? She was a prostitute. No man could love a prostitute! Was he simply using her as every other man in her life?
Time passed and she gave birth to three children. It was a strange feeling to know that she was a mother and her heart stirred with love for her children but she was tormented with thoughts of what they would think of their mother when they heard the gossip of who she really was. Could she bear the love in their eyes turning to scorn ?
Maybe it was better she just leave them and go back to her former life.
Yes, that was the only thing that would give her peace.
One day she simply left, with money she took from the clay jar where Hosea kept his coins.
It was easy to fit back into the life she knew so well and understood.
Then the day came when she could no longer ignore the fact that she was out of money and her clients were no longer paying enough for her to get by. Younger women were more desirable.
What could she do ? Beg? Degrade herself even further ?
Choking back her tears she raised her head and looked with some alarm at the door, her ears picking up a subtle rustling sound. She waited, listening , but heard nothing more. It was long after dusk, who would be at her door? Half frightened, half curious, she crept to the door and slowly opened it a crack. No one was there. But wait, what was this ? A large basket of supplies - food, clothing , everything she needed ! Who could have left it ?
She glanced up and down the street trying to discern any shadows moving in the moonlight. Nothing.
Gratefully, she took the basket inside and made herself the best meal she had had in some time.
The baskets came regularly, just at the time she was in need again. Who could be supplying so generously for her?
Though her physical needs were being met, Gomer sunk lower and lower into despondency. Despair, sadness and isolation drove her into a very dark place. The men no longer desired her, the women hated her, children cast wide eyed glances in her direction, wondering what made her so bad that their parents made sure that they knew to avoid her !
What if whoever was sending the baskets decided enough was enough and stopped ? Whatever would she do then ?
Just when she thought things could not get worse, she was sold as a slave subject to the wishes and demands of a hard-hearted man.
The day Hosea came to find her, she did not hear him enter the house, but she instantly recognized his voice. She barely discerned his softly spoken words. "Come Gomer, you are my wife, I forgive you, I have redeemed you, I have bought you, you are mine but you shall not call me Master, you shall call me Husband!"
She stared into his love-filled eyes and melted. It could not be possible but Hosea had come for her, to save her. Could it be that he really loved her? Her mind struggled but she could come up with no other answer, Hosea, her husband loved her. She had left him, played the harlot, committing adultery.. and yet he never stopped caring for her. The baskets were an expression of his continued care even as she sought the attention of other men.
With a heart wrenching cry, she rose and placed her hand in his ! Hosea said... "I will love you and you will live with me until death do us part. I will be faithful to you and you will be faithful to me."
This is an unusual love story about a man named Hosea and a woman named Gomer, but it is much more than that. While the story has many layers of meaning, there is one message that speaks the deepest to me.
Come back in a day or two to find out what it is.