What Do I Live For?

We were discussing poetry in class a few days ago, and I had my stdents bring in song lyrics that they found to be “poetic.” The results were varied and interesting, and one student brought in a song called “Hosea’s Wife,” by one of my favorite Christian artists, Brooke Fraser. I have her album, so I’ve heard the song multiple times, but that day in class when the student read them aloud, it was as though I was hearing them for the first time. Here are the words:

Hosea’s Wife

I just spoke silence with the seeker next to me
She had a heart with hesitant, halting speech
That turned to mine and asked belligerently
“What do I live for?”

I see the scars of searches everywhere I go
From hearts to wars to literature to radio
There’s a question like a shame no one will show
“What do I live for?”

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using people like ladders and words like knives

If we’ve eyes to see
If we’ve ears to hear
To find it in our hearts and mouths
The word that saves is near
Shed that shallow skin
Come and live again
Leave all you were before
To believe is to begin

There is truth in little corners of our lives
There are hints of it in songs and children’s eyes
It’s familiar, like an ancient lullaby
What do I live for?

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using bodies like money and truth like lies


We are more than dust
That means something
That means something
We are more than just
Blood and emotions
Inklings and notions
Atoms on oceans

The question “What do I live for?” jolted me, and the chorus of the song has been in my head ever since. I have felt as though I’m living a sort of stagnant Christianity, one that knows the Word but doesn’t truly live it or know God. My head is full of scriptures, but my heart is full of laziness and pride and vanity and cynicism. My Christianity is primarily one of knowledge, not of experience. It’s not enough for me to read or hear of how God works in the lives of others; I want to be more aware of and experience His work in my life. And I know He’s working, but I’m not looking for it.

To borrow a (slightly altered) line from a Li Young Lee poem, how do I take what I love inside? How do I make the knowledge in my head translate into action? How many times do I have to read the words in Matthew 6 that encourage me not to worry about tomorrow but to store up treasures in heaven before I actually start doing that? What do I live for? Most days, I feel as though I live for myself, but I know that true life is found in Christ, and I want that. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. I want to be found in Him, and Him alone.

I don’t want to squander this life.

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