The next passage that allows us to write our own ending is found in Hosea 14:9. ‘Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” God’s Word reminds us that we all have a personal choice to make, a choice between two opposing ways of living. We can pray for God’s wisdom and walk in His righteous ways, or we can go through life in rebellion against God’s love for us, making up our own values, and stumbling over the very things that God has provided for our benefit.
Some people are like the lady I heard about on the radio. She was in a store and tripped over a small child at her feet. She was slightly hurt, and so she sued the store. It didn’t seem to matter to her that the child she had stumbled over was her own child; it was obvious that the store was at fault!
Hosea 14:1 says, ‘Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall!” You see, even when we trip over something good, something that may even be of our own making, when we fall it is through our own sin. That store did not push the lady to the ground. She stumbled over the fruit of her own life. And that is too often the case with many of us. We take a course of action, decide on a particular road to take, and then, when life goes sour, we look for somebody else to blame. If it is not a store that allows children to play on the floor, it is a fast-food restaurant that serves hot coffee which, when we spill it on ourselves, becomes their fault!
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it (James 4:1-3, The Message).
Hosea tells us that we can either walk in the righteous ways of the Lord or stumble over them. The Lord’s way of righteous living is the same for everyone; it is simply up to us whether we go through life walking or tripping. ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
I find it interesting that the Book of Hosea concludes by offering us this simple choice: Walk in the righteous ways of God or stumble over a sinful life of our own making. Hosea was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel and prophesied during the final days before the Assyrians conquered the kingdom. He had an unfaithful wife named Gomer, who produced children through her adulteries. But even Hosea had a choice. He could continue in the righteous ways of the Lord by forgiving and taking back unfaithful Gomer—a foreshadowing of God’s forgiveness of unfaithful Israel—or live in rebellion and stumble over the sin in his presence. Hosea chose to forgive Gomer and take her back as his wife.
I pray that every day we will all choose to walk and talk in the righteous ways of the Lord. When we do, we will still have one more choice to make, one more ending to write. And that is found in Mark 16:8.