No matter how much you care…

…you don’t get to choose repentance for them.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15a,c, NIV

I remember sitting in a sermon series with a pastor–i.e. Pastor Dom of Calvary Chapel in St. Cloud, MN–teaching on the book of Hosea. His teachings illustrated how Gomer chose over and over to leave Hosea. It came to a point when even her lovers did not want her.

That’s where we see her in chapter 3. She’s stripped naked being sold on the slave block spurned by lovers who have used and abused her. Unwanted. Rejected.

Now, Hosea is told to buy her back by God. This is a special revelation to him. Hosea does this. And he insists she remain faithful to him going forward (see Hosea 3:3).

This is no free pass for ongoing adultery.

The whole story struck me at the time. Of course, this story is about how God takes us and loves us even when we feel like we are worthless. He looks at our naked and used up bodies…then He says, “I want that one!”

And He pays the price in blood.

Christ’s blood.

For you and me.

You see, we are very precious to Him.

Back to the issues regarding infidelity. We do not live in a day where we can compel reconciliation like Hosea did through buying back Gomer on a slave market. Each person is free to leave. And that left me with a haunting question:

What if she never comes back?

My heart wanted my (now) ex-wife to return to me at the time I heard this sermon. And it broke–as I suppose God’s heart breaks–over people who would rather continue a life of infidelity than return to His loving arms.

God understands the pain of a rejected lover.

Some people never come back to Him.

God’s love and care for us is perfect. Yet that is not enough to ensure everyone returns even to Him. His love is a love that does not compel. And it is a jealous love–like Hosea’s even–that will not accept any other loves in our lives!

So, if you find yourself in the valley wanting your adulterous spouse to repent and return, remember that you do not control that decision. The only decision you control is whether you will accept this ongoing infidelity or move forward.

I chose to move forward (after a season of waiting).

You may have to do so as well.

Repentance cannot be compelled. It must be chosen freely by the sinner alone.