“Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers, a more modern telling of the book of Hosea, tells the story of a woman who was born to a single mother as a result of her affair with a married man. At seven years of age Sarah had already learned just how harsh and cruel this world can be. Her father did not want her and her mother, fighting poverty, resorted to prostitution to make ends meet. When Sarah is eight years old, her mother dies, leaving Sarah in the care of her “Uncle Rab” who sells her into prostitution.
Fast forward to age 18. Angel, Sarah’s new name, is living in Pair-A-Dice, California. She has experienced several failed attempts to escape prostitution but has now landed herself in the employ of the Duchess and her bodyguard/enforcer, Magowan. Having been in this profession for 10 years, Angel has become hardened and exhausted. She wishes that she could just end her life, but lacks the courage to do so.
Enter Michael Hosea. One day, during one of Angel’s daily walks, Michael Hosea is selling his produce to the local store and happens to catch a glimpse of this beautiful woman. Immediately he hears in his heart, “This one, beloved.” Knowing that the Lord has spoken, Michael begins asking the merchant questions only to find out that Angel is a prostitute. Surely he has misunderstood the Lord. After a lot of soul searching, Michael Hosea knows that he has heard the Lord and that Angel is to be his bride. Using all the gold he has earned selling his produce, Michael spends several nights trying to talk to Angel and woo her to no avail. Finally frustrated and angry that nothing is working, Michael heads home. For days the Lord will not leave him alone about Angel and Michael fears that something is terribly wrong. Once back in town to sell more produce, Michael finds out that Angel has been beaten almost to death. That night he convinces Angel to marry him and takes her home to nurse her back to health.
During her recovery and for months after, Angel does all she can to push Michael away. He’s getting to close and if she lets him in she’ll fall apart completely. Michael continues to try to plough through her defences. Though by no means perfect, Michael desperately wants her to see how much he loves her and wants her to be whole and free. Each time Angel runs away, he brings her back. Each time she pushes, he tries desperately to show her love instead of anger. Overall he’s tender and patient and accepting and begins to slowly work to climb the walls in Angel’s heart. But just when Angel’s heart begins to soften, she begins to feel unworthiness and fear and she continues to run. When she is finally able to let go and heal, it is because she finally feels the love of the One who will never let her go no matter what she does. Then, and only then, does she finally accept the love of her husband and is able to let him in completely; once again becoming Sarah, wife to Michael Hosea.
I have to say that when I read this story; I was completely overwhelmed by the images of how much God truly loves us in the words and ways of Michael Hosea towards Angel. In preparation for this review, I have thought through about my life again and again. I can still identify with Angel so much. No, not in how her life has played out or what she chose to do to try to survive, but in her feelings and emotions and thought processes. I too have felt, and still sometimes do, that I am unworthy and afraid; that I am not doing anyone any good. There was a moment in my life when I felt the desire to love someone as deeply and fully as Michael loves Angel. I have also felt that desire with God and, though I know from Scripture that He does love me this way, it is hard to reconcile that to life when you’ve been through thick and thin here on earth. But all through this book, I saw nothing but God…His love for us, His grace, His mercy…Nothing but God!
There are some sentences in this book that immediately stand out to me. I hope these touch your heart as much as they have and continue to touch mine.
“Michael caught hold of her. “I’m right here.” He felt her shaking and drew her into his arms. “I’m not going to leave you in darkness.” He tipped her face up and kissed her gently. “When are you going to understand I love you?””
This line reminded me so much of what God says to us sometimes…”When are you going to understand I love you?” He sits patiently and wonders when we will finally get it. When we will finally see that He loves us, no matter what we do or what we say, He loves us.
“Look, mister, if you knew even half of what I’ve done, you’d have me headed back to Pair-A-Dice so fast-“
“Try me. Go ahead and see if it makes a difference.”
Do you hear God in that? Go ahead, tell me all your dark, dirty secrets and see if I care. See if it makes me feel any less about you. See if I love you any less or want to cast you out. Go ahead try me. The answer of course is that it won’t make one bit of a difference, but wow, what a picture.
If you haven’t read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, you are missing out on a great picture of who God is. I recommend you look for the book and read it.