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I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, “I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.Hosea 2:6-7

Dear Lord Jesus, I’ve praised you for the fall foliage of western North Carolina; the panoramic wonder of Cape Town, South Africa; everything topographical about Switzerland; the Eden-like echoes reverberating in Butchart Gardens on Victoria Island; and the azure blue waters, kissing the sugar-white beaches of Destin, Florida. But today, I praise you for the gift of thornbushes—prickly, painful providences of great mercy.

Jesus, you love us so much that, when we love you less, you come after us with tenacity and uncomfortable providences. You are unrelenting in your commitment to rescue our hearts from illusions, mirages, broken cisterns, idols, and wannabe lovers. I wish you didn’t have to be, but I am grateful you are so doggedly committed to keeping us from self-destructing.

O blessed and beloved thornbushes, ever block my path when I begin chasing after lesser gods and other lovers. Hedge me in like a formidable fortress—an indefatigable defense against my wandering heart. When I set my GPS for an affair of any kind, cause me to lose my bearings and my way. Frustrate my every attempt to look for more, or settle for less, than Jesus.

Jesus, that you are jealous for us and the affection of our hearts is the greatest compliment you could ever pay us. Who are we that the Lord of glory would make us his bride? Who am I that you would rejoice over me with the festive joy, the impassioned delight, and the desire-filled gaze of a bridegroom?

How I long for the Day when I will never again have to say, “I will go back to my husband as at first.” Until that Day, Lord Jesus, that consummate Wedding Day, keep me sane, centered, and settled through the gospel. Dazzle and enflame my heart, with your beauty, delight—your everything. So very Amen I pray, in your holy and loving name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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