Night before last, I was up until 4:30am finishing Francine River’s book, Redeeming Love. A friend of mine was concerned that I was using television to get settled into bed at night, so she suggested that I start reading instead. Since reading has never been on my top ten list of fun activities to do on a rainy day, I was skeptical… but then she introduced me to Francine Rivers.
First, she loaned me The Scarlet Thread and suggested that I would be hooked after just a few chapters. She was right. So after getting a taste of good novels, I borrowed Redeeming Love from another friend’s sister and it was love at first page. I have been chipping away at it for a few weeks, but a couple of nights ago, I picked it up before bed with the intention of reading a chapter or two, and it completely pulled me in. Every fifteen minutes or so, I would glance at the clock. I knew I was going to feel exhausted in the morning, but I just could not help it (okay, I made a decision and lived with the consequences ~smile~). I had to know how it ended!!!
Since I want everyone I know to read it, I will not divulge any specific information about it other than to say it parallels the story of Hosea in the Old Testament in an 1800s, West Coast setting. Many of us have heard “God loves you” all our lives, but such love does not always seem real. Francine did an incredible job of creating a story that analogized God’s deep love for His Children. It was a beautiful reminder to me of God’s unfailing, sacrificial, patient love.
At Some Portions
At some portions of the book, I found myself slightly (or completely) frustrated with the main character for some of her foolish decisions, for not accepting how loved she was, and for not acknowledging the blessings she had been given. And immediately after thinking those thoughts it was like the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “Just like you.”
At some portions of the book, I remember thinking, “This is a beautiful story, but no one’s relationship is like this. It is painting a picture that is too good to be true.” And again it occurred to me, it is not too good to be true. This is the relationship you can have with Christ. Eric will fail me at times but Christ never will. His love is endless.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (ESV) If these attributes are proof that we are regenerate and that the Holy Spirit is working in and through us, then it stands to reason that God has all of these attributes – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
For many years, I have struggled with the fear that God would turn His back on me if I was not “good” enough. If someone else came to me with such a fear, I would attempt to put his or her mind at ease with stories of God’s goodness and longsuffering. Yet, I have struggled to believe it in my own life.
Now, having read my innermost thoughts in black and white, it is obvious that I have been an internal legalist. Somewhere along the line, I started saying, “What Christ did for me on the cross is not enough. I have to achieve some sort of perfection or God will drop me like a bad habit.”
Reading Redeeming Love put me face-to-face with my faulty thinking. It was convicting as it showed me areas in my life where I have put idols before God and it was a gentle, yet powerful, reminder of the awesome, all-encompassing, never wavering love of God. He does not weary like we do. When we think, “I’ve been so bad. I’ve made so many bad decisions. God must be weary of loving me.” He is not. He does not get tired like we do. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”(Isaiah 40:28, ESV)
The next morning (well… three hours later), I told Eric that I have never been so thoroughly entertained and convicted at the same time. The book is enthralling, but it also points out areas in our lives that need to be addressed. In fact, I closed this book with the following three takeaways:
1. When you think you have been longsuffering in your marriage, there is still a lot more you can give, and you will never be as longsuffering with your spouse as God has been with you.
2. Idols are sneaky – and if you are not diligently praying and spending time in God’s Word, you will have idols (something you place as more important than God) all through your life (e.g., entertainment, time with friends, obsession with getting married, etc.).
3. God is a lot stronger than we realize. We get caught up in our small box and we try to stuff God into it. But God is far greater, stronger, and more loving than we as humans can possibly comprehend, and He is involved in our lives, even though we do not often recognize Him.
Oh, such a great book! Read it! You will not be sorry. ~smile~
Do you long for unfailing love and devotion?