There’s an old Seinfeld episode where George tries to convince his in-laws that he has a place in the Hamptons. Not believing him, they ask him to show it to them. Knowing they are trying to call his bluff, George nevertheless loads them into his car and drives them two hours away to the Hamptons just because he resents the idea of being called out. The drive is a contest of wills—a test to see who will break first. The problem is that George cannot win because his in-laws see right through him.
In Hosea 10, God sees right through Israel’s pretending. They make promises, but they don’t mean them. They offer sacrifices, but don’t connect their own hearts to them. They are in the process of cutting themselves off from God. They’re working so hard to hold it all together, but they’ve reached a point where everything they’re doing now is just for show. They know it. God knows it. But the pretending goes on. It is like a game of chicken, and Israel is convinced they will be the last to swerve.
But they’re exhausted. Are you exhausted by the effort you put into your shows of strength and self-sufficiency? I get bone tired when I’m putting up a front.
God gives us beautiful prayers in Scripture—words to turn to when we’re weary of pretending to be something we’re not:
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am alone and afflicted.
The distresses of my heart increase;
bring me out of my sufferings.
Consider my affliction and trouble,
and take away all my sins.
– Psalm 25:16-18
Or, simply, Jesus calling to us:
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
– Matthew 11:28
But if you’re like me, in our pride, we often refuse to be the first to relent. We just press on toward that image we’re trying to pass off as real.
But here’s the thing about God: He delights to take us to the end of ourselves. He will often let us drive Him all the way out to the Hamptons if that’s what we’re bent on doing, knowing we have nothing of substance to show Him there.
Why does He do this? Because God, out of love, uses our own stubbornness and futile efforts to discipline us. He brings us to the end of ourselves, and there we find Him ready to take us back.
As we grow, may it take us fewer miles of pretending to embrace that truth.
Written By Russ Ramsey