My favorite fictional book ever, one that I’ve read eight times now, is called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers . The four hundred and sixty-four page book is based very loosely around the story of Hosea the Bible prophet who marries a prostitute named Gomer, simply because God asks him to. Gomer then becomes symbolic of the people of Israel as she runs away from the love of her husband and returns to her old ways time and time again. Each time, God tells Hosea to go get her back, and each time, she runs away again.
In Redeeming Love, Hosea is Michael and Gomer is Angel, and the story isn’t set in the times before Christ, but after – 1850s California. Today, Hosea is the Author of Love, the Lover of my soul, God Almighty. And I, I am Angel.
Angel, who’s heart was crushed as a child as she realized that her own father would have preferred her never to have been born. Angel, who watched as her mother suffered in agony because of the heartless man that was her father. I am her.
Angel, who learned to feign indifference and disdain to hide the soul that was rotting within her. Angel, who walked with her head held high, giving a middle finger to the world and pretending to be in control. Angel, whose tongue was a sharp knife, dissecting her victims. I am her.
Angel, who when faced with a way out of the grave, refused to take it because of her pride and her inability to hope. Angel, who chose death over life. Angel, whose closest companions were the voices in her head telling her that she wasn’t worth a penny, and would never be able to escape her present hell. I am her.
Angel, who couldn’t comprehend the idea of grace – that someone would love her and bathe her and clothe her and feed her and nurse her back to health without wanting something in return. Angel, who bathed herself daily in shame and refused to accept the love that was staring her right in the face. I am her.
Angel, who left love’s side to return to the filth of her old life. Angel, who shattered his heart by refusing his offer of a new life and instead chose to return to hell. Angel, who let the dark voices be louder and stronger than the quiet whisper. Angel, who was far too terrified by the vulnerability and nakedness that came as a result of falling in love, so much so that she ran away from love itself. I am her.
Angel, who was brought back into light by one who fought with all his might and rescued her from Hades. Angel, who placed a man before God, who worshiped him as though he were her Creator. Angel, whose goal in life was now to become a woman that was pleasing to a man, instead of pleasing the One who made that man and holds his heart. I am her.
Angel, who realized that she couldn’t pretend her way into truth; that although she seemed whole on the outside, she was still that heartbroken little girl who wasn’t even given a chance to prove that she was worthy of love and affection. Angel, who still didn’t believe that she was indeed worthy of love and affection. Angel, who finally began the journey of discovering herself. I am her.
Angel who, many miles from home, found herself face to face with her true Deliverer and Shining Knight, and couldn’t resist His love. Angel, who began to discover, from the safety of His everlasting arms, that she had been made worthy, valuable, beautiful in a way that she’d never been before. Angel, who let His love mend the pieces of her broken life and illuminate His purpose for the pain – a deep sense of empathy and an even deeper desire to bring those with histories like hers out of the darkness and into the light. I am her.
Angel, who returns home to the man who no longer is her god, stripping herself of her pride and bitterness and distrust and self-doubt with each step she took towards him. Angel, who presents herself to him – not perfect – but completely naked, willing to let him see everything about her that reeked of death and desolation, but had been turned into a garden of Life and vibrance. Angel, whose first love is Him who saved her. Angel, who doesn’t fear love but embraces it with her whole heart. Angel who stops running and plants her feet firmly into the certitude of the Rock of Ages. I want to be her.