Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Redeeming Love is an intense, heart-wrenching story based on the book of Hosea in the Bible. It is the story of a godly man, Michael, who follows God's leading to marry a woman to rescue her from the brothels and her life of prostitution. It is a beautiful depiction and parallel of God's relentless love and pursuit of us, despite our rebellion and sin. From the beginning of the book, my heart was broken over the affects that prostitution had on the main character of the story, Angel. She was sold into prostitution at the age of 8. The descriptions of her conditions and treatment were graphic and unthinkable. I was given so much perspective into the lives of women and children who are involved in prostitution and sold into sex slavery. Throughout the book, God broke my heart to the point of tears several times over these precious girls. A life of sex slavery affects a person long-term more than we could realize- feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, the suppressing of emotions, and so much more.
Michael loved Angel unconditionally, forgiving her for her past, as well as each time she ran away from him and back to her life of prostitution. He portrayed so many characteristics that a woman desires to find in a husband: quiet strength, courage, righteous anger, unconditional love, selflessness, gentleness, hard worker, provider, sensitive to God's leading, person of prayer, etc. The more I thought about these characteristics, I realized that the reason they are so important and so attractive is because a person who possesses these qualities looks so much like Jesus. "Everything Michael did had purpose." So like Jesus.
Michael loved Angel like Jesus, even though her heart was so far from Him. But, the journey of her life was God's relentless pursuit of her, using people and situations to point her to Him. Only God could fill the void in her heart, remove her loneliness, and give her life purpose. Michael desired for Angel to embrace her new freedom that resulted from his love.
In the same way, God pursues our hearts all the days of our lives. Even when we sin against Him and do our own thing... He still pursues us. He places people and situations in our lives to draw our hearts to Him. The very thought leaves me in awe. What a wonderful God. There is no person who is beyond the reach or grace of God. We cannot give up on people. He never gives up on someone; He never gives up on us. "Oh, God, it's not the way I planned. But then, what of real, lasting value ever is?"
This book was very intense... I would honestly not recommend it for someone younger than myself because of the graphic content... and it would probably be better for someone who is married. My life has been changed because of this book. And, with knowledge and awareness comes great responsibility. I am not exactly sure what God wants me to do with this knowledge, but I will be sensitive to His direction moving forward. I have been left in awe of God's love and pursuit. He truly does restore, heal, and give our lives purpose. I am excited for God to use me in this process in other peoples' lives. If you choose to read this book, ask God to give you an open heart for how He would desire to change you because of it.
"Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them." Hosea 14:9 NIV