One of my favorite books is by one of my favorite writers, Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. I have read this book several times. This story is a modern day story of the book of Hosea in the Bible.
If you know the story of Hosea, Hosea (his name meaning Salvation) was a prophet who was instructed by God to marry a prostitute named Gomer. This was during a time of prosperity of a nation, but inwardly the nation was on a moral decline. Throughout the marriage, Gomer kept running back to prostitution and God kept telling Hosea to go rescue his wife. As you can imagine, this was not an easy marriage for Hosea. But, God used this as an example of His love for a wayward people. It mirrors Gods call for repentance to come back to their only salvation.
I suppose one of the reasons I like it so much is because I relate to it, I relate to the main character, Sarah. Not that I was ever a prostitute in a brothel, but I understood what drove her there; worse yet, what kept her there.
Amanda was a girl born to a mother out of wedlock, a product of an affair with a married man. The father kept Amanda and her mother in a cottage, hidden away from everyone, to hide his secret, his shame. She was rejected by her father, cruelly so. As a young girl she would watch how her mother would do anything for the affections and love of this cruel man. Even Amanda would be on her best behavior, wear her prettiest dress, thinking if only “she were good enough” or “pretty enough,” then her father would love her.
Then her mother died, while Amanda was still a child, and a man took her to “look after her.” Amanda would wait, and hope, and search for her father to rescue her. Surely he knew her mother had died and would come for his daughter? But, he never did.
Amanda was sold into prostitution and the middle of her life was worse than her beginning. She changed her name to Sarah, one thing she would not allow anyone to take from her was her name. They could take her body, take her hope, take her freedom, but her name was the one and only thing she held.
Enter the scene, Michael Hosea. Michael is a farmer who happened upon the beautiful Sarah on the street one day while he was in town. Michael was an upright man, a righteous man. God told Michael to rescue Sarah, to marry her, and to love her unconditionally. True to the book of Hosea, Sarah kept running right back into prostitution and Michael kept going after her, denying his own heartbreak, his own pain, he loved her.
As I read the story I witness how the love of Christ can break through any shell of a tough exterior we build around our hearts to protect ourselves. Because love can hurt. It takes a lot of courage to love. In love we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable, open, transparent, trusting, and honest, in order to receive healing. Throughout Sarah’s life she experienced nothing but rejection and pain at the hands of those who were suppose to protect her. She went into hiding within herself, purposing to never allow anyone to reach the deepest part of her heart and break her. But, what she did not realize, she was already broken in the deepest hidden place. Her wound knew no depth.
And it is in the depth of the wounds to our souls that Christ wants to reach. It is His love that wants to restore us to the beautiful innocence He purposed for us.
Each time I read this story I fall in love with the character of Michael Hosea. Perhaps this is why I was so broken over “the name we shall not mention.” After a childhood and years of rejection, I met the man I trusted to love. I allowed myself to be vulnerable, open, giving and receiving. I mistook his knowledge of Gods Word for a heart of God. In so doing, I trusted the wrong one. He did show himself to be untrustworthy. He had his own wounds that needed to be healed, he was in no position to minister healing to mine. As a result, it caused even deeper wounds.
But, I cannot blame him entirely. I should not have been looking to him to heal what has been broken in me. Only God can do that. Yes, God can bring healing to us through the love of others, but my eyes were closed and I expected more than he is able to give on his own.
What I have learned through this, is I have deep wounds. Wounds from my childhood that have never been completely healed. Because like Sarah, in the story, I hid them. I was great at pretending everything was fine inside of me. Infact, I even fooled myself. But the wounds we carry deep inside, hidden our hearts, in the recesses of our mind and memories, they hurt. Not only do they cause us damage, but it wounds others who get close to us.
God calls us His own. We are His beloved. We stray from Him, we hide from Him, we try to cover our own shame; yet He pursues us with the passion of unconditional and undying love.
Before I end this post, I do want to say something to “the name we shall not mention,” (JK) I forgive you and I release you. Whether you loved me or not, I do not know. I do believe you wanted to. Over the 2+ years we were together there were moments of tenderness, where I believe we did connect at the heart level. But the wounds from our past, mine and yours, worked against us. Pride and insecurities were stronger than our strength to trust in God to heal us. I am still processing things and every day is a step closer to complete healing. My Hosea has come, and His Name is Jesus. When my healing has been completed, I will open my heart and love again, and I will be loved in return. I pray you receive your healing, and you humble yourself enough to know you need it. I pray the women you are pursuing on line will not find you appealing until you do receive the healing He has for you, because you hurt people. I encourage you to shut the internet down and get before the Lord and surround yourself with His body, strong men who can minister to you. Then and only then will you be the man He has called you to be. I wish you well. Thank you for the experience, though it has been hell in the ending, I have grown and I have learned and now I am being healed.
I close with this excerpt from the story:
“Amanda, I knew the day I saw you that you belonged with me.”
“Do you know how many times men have said that to me?” She said, wanting to drive him away.
He went on doggedly as though her words hadn’t stabbed him. “I’ve loved watching you grow and change. You’re never the same. I love the way you take on new things, your drive to learn. I love how you work, how you have this little girl look on your face when you finish something you’ve never tried before. I love watching you skip across the meadow with Ruth. I love seeing you laugh with Miriam and hang on Elizabeth’s wisdom. I love the whole idea of growing old with you and waking up to you every morning for the rest of my life.”
“Don’t,” she whispered brokenly.
“I haven’t even started.” He shook her tenderly. “Amanda, I loved giving you pleasure. I loved feeling you melt. I loved hearing you say my name.” She blushed and he kissed her. “Love cleanses, beloved. It doesn’t beat you down. It doesn’t cast blame.” He kissed her again, wishing he had the right words to say what he felt. Words would never be enough to show her what he meant. “My love isn’t a weapon. It’s a lifeline. Reach out and take hold, and don’t let go.”
When he drew her in his arms this time, she didn’t struggle. When she put her arms around him, he sighed, the stress of the past week dissolving. “This feels good, doesn’t it? And right.”
(Redeeming Love, written by Francine Rivers)