I just finished rereading Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love. It’s a historical fiction based on the Old Testament book of Hosea, which tells of a prophet and his prostitute wife, Gomer. Not necessarily your Friday night rom-com. Hosea’s faithfulness to his wavering wife is used to represent God’s commitment to His nation Israel, and the same is true in Redeeming Love for Michael Hosea and his wife, Angel.
I’ll be completely honest with you. This book made me cry raw, purifying tears. Because I could see the different ways and reasons why we resist the love of God. And I could see the ways that His love is overwhelmingly unearned and undeserved on my part. I wanted to share my initial thoughts of the read while it was still fresh on my heart. Seriously, I just finished reading it like an hour ago ha! Here goes:
The first time Angel left Michael was because she wanted to go back to her old way of life. It was something she could understand. His kindness and deep love for her, however, made her uncomfortable. She actively warred against it, not knowing that in her attempts to destroy him, she was destroying herself. Like the relentless man he was, he pursued and rescued her in the middle of her sin. Literally. She then warred between being relieved and angry of his rescue, but she eventually began to learn and become familiar with his ways, even if she wasn’t fully ready to receive it.
The second time Angel left Michael was because she realized she was falling in love with him. She realized that he was different from anyone she’d ever known, and it scared her. His love for her felt good, but she wasn’t ready to admit her surrender, so she ran. And although she found a life better than how he’d found her, his love followed her. It lived inside her. It was Michael’s friend who sent word of where she was, and like the relentless man he was, Michael pursued and rescued her in the middle of her longing. She submitted to his love, flourished in it even. But she was aware of her lack, and thought it an inconvenience for it to become his.
The third and final time Angel left Michael was because she realized she could never give him what he longed for: children. An evil act stripped her of the possibility, and it was enough to cripple her out of his love. Though endangered and tempted to return to her old life, she found herself living the way Michael had taught her to live: in the fullness of light and truth. Once rescued, she became a rescuer. Once delivered, she became a deliverer. Once oppressed, she became an oppressor of darkness. She began to see the ways that it had been God all along. Moving through Michael, and now moving through her. She surrendered to and received God’s love. It launched her into her calling. It was her own enemy [Paul] who beckoned her to return home to Michael. Paul begged for her forgiveness, something she’d extended long ago. But she remained trapped by her lack. “Your first obligation is Michael,” Paul said. And though full of fear, she obliged, for like the relentless man he was, Michael said he could not be the one to make her come back this time. She had to return on her own.
Angel’s return to Michael was full of joy, authenticity, and freedom. As she walked toward him, she removed the anger, bitterness, and shame long held onto. She fell at his feet, and he picked her up. He covered her in his love and lifted her to the sky. Similar to the way God lifts us when we come to Him. I suppose some resist the Lord because they can better understand their way of life. And some resist for fear of opening themselves fully to His immeasurable love. And still some because we are trapped by the reminder of our lack. We say to ourselves: “this person can do this much better for God, that person can do that much better for God,” but God chooses us. Yes, as mankind. But more importantly, as individuals. If there was one person on earth to bridge back to the Father through Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, He would’ve died still. He doesn’t shy away from our lack; He steps into it and fills in every crack and crevice of every lie. And then He tells us to come as we are and teaches us to trust Him with the rest. Surprisingly enough, Michael’s and Angel’s prayers were answered and they had four children. A barren woman made fruitful. And I can’t help but wonder this question for those who hunger and even myself: cannot the same be true for me?