I recently read a novel called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It's one of the best books I've ever read. The novel is set in California during the gold rush years and is a beautiful love story based on the book of Hosea from the Bible. Though it's a love story between a man and a woman, just as Hosea is, it's also the redeeming love story of God and us, again just as Hosea is.
The reason I say this is one of the best books I've read is because it's stayed with me. The lead male character, Michael Hosea, has almost complete unwavering faith. He's what a Christian should be, and that's what I keep going back to when I think about the book. I've never read a book where I wanted to be like the character, but I want to be a Michael Hosea.
The lead female character is Sarah, a prostitute, who uses the name Angel. She's a broken individual, who has never been able to see God in her life. Because of the terrible things that have happened to her since childhood, she can't fathom what real love is - not from God and not from a man.
Just as in the book of Hosea, Michael seeks Angel because God has told him she's the woman he is to marry. He can't believe God wants him to marry a prostitute, but he has always done what God has told him to do and he marries her. Repeatedly, Angel betrays his love and each time he forgives her. His brother-in-law also betrays him and Michael forgives him too. He forgives because God tells him to be forgiving. Michael gets what God is all about, and he gets what love is all about.
There are four key things about Michael that exemplify what a Christian should be...things all Christians should emulate.
- He reads God's word and lives what he reads.
- He prays for God's wisdom and guidance.
- He listens for God's guidance and follows whatever God tells him to do. He doesn't have to understand why God is telling him to do it; he does it because God tells him to do it.
- He always comes back to God. He might be angry with God. He might stop praying and reading God's word for a short season, but he always returns with a deeper understanding of God's redeeming love.