Early on in my faith, I fell in love with a book titled “Redeeming Love”. Ever heard of it? I must have read that book at least three times and apparently I was so in love with it that I bought a copy for one of my besties. She reminded me of this fact when I raved about going to see the movie that was recently made nearly 15 years after the book was published.
The plot of the story is that a young man named Michael Hosea prays for God to send him a wife. Well, God has jokes because he didn’t send Michael the pristine perfect Christian girl I’m sure he was expecting. No. Instead, God sent a prostitute.
The story is an illustration of the Biblical account of Hosea in the Bible. The demonstration of Michael wooing his new wife, Angel, is a symbol of God wooing us, his wayward bride.
I have expressed many times on this little blog my faith and relationship with God. As a new believer, I fell head over heels, and the encounter I had can only be described as romantic. God swept me off my feet and gave me a word many years ago, which just so happens to be from the book of Hosea:
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.- Hosea 2:6-7 (NIV)
There were times I loved being blocked by God. I loved being hedged in, surrounded by His intimacy and engulfed in His presence. But as the years dragged on, and the manifest presence of his love was overshadowed with hard things, there were times I felt isolated in that hedge. There were times I felt alone.
In the book, Angel struggles with so many things. She has a history of trauma and abuse. She was sold into prostitution at a young age, rejected by her father, and (spoiler alert) lost her only relative, her mother. She has nothing but the clothes on her back, so when Michael offers her a way out of her prison, she scoffs at him in unbelief. How can there be a way out of the only thing she’s ever known?
In my opinion, Francine Rivers does an amazing job depicting the love of God through these characters. No matter how many times Angel runs away, Michael takes her back. No matter how many times she hurts and betrays him, he stays faithful. I know that is my relationship with God. Over and over I have been unfaithful. Over and over I have betrayed Him. Yet He just keeps on being there. He just keeps on loving me. In writing this, I realize, it is because He is a God of covenant. God is the most loyal being there is. When He says something, He means it. You can take it to the bank. And when He says you’re His.
You just are.
There’s no getting out of that.
It was interesting watching the unfolding of the book on screen because I am so different now than 20-something Nicole who was super engrossed in the novel. This time, I not only saw the parallels to my own relationship with God , but I resonated with the writer. Francine has such a knack for story telling and character development. I’ve read many of her books more than once and that is saying a lot because she writes volumes. But the key thing that she does in addition to her literary enhancement, is that, in my opinion, she pushes the envelope when it comes to creating Christian characters. She doesn’t play it safe by sharing idealized versions of Christians. Instead, she gives you the nitty gritty. Her stories have real, imperfect people, living real lives, who God just so happens to choose and love. That is my attempt with my writing. I want people to see God through humanity. More specifically, through Black culture.
My own faith has been a rocky mess in my opinion. So much so that the perfectionism I once took much pride in has been crushed and discarded in the process. But you know what? I’m grateful it was crushed.
I was speaking with a friend today who said I was “grounded”. I appreciated that. I knew the grounding came from the process. I have been grounded and I have been ground. I have been seasoned like salt that does not lose its flavor. And a lot of that seasoning came from being hedged in.
A lot of it came from being “alone”.
If you haven’t already done so, check out the movie. And if you’re feeling really bold, read the book. I’m sure it’s still a game changer.
Isn’t it funny how God has a way of bringing all things together? Years ago I read that book knowing it resonated with me because of His wooing towards me. But now I can see, it was also His intent to introduce me to a writer who was doing what I now know I’m called too. To tell real stories, about real people, who are utterly, entirely a mess.
But they are His. And He is theirs. And nothing can separate them from His love.
In other news, did you know that I have a monthly newsletter? You can email me if you would like to receive it, or sign up on my website! Just click on “Blog”, go to any blog post, then scroll down until you see “Join Our Newsletter”! I share all of my updates on events I am selling books at and the latest happenings in authorship! You can also view the latest newsletter on my linktree.
Are you on Instagram/Facebook? If so, please reach out! I have started a series called “Word of the Day Wednesdays” where I share 5-10 minutes worth of nuggets that are on my heart, which I hope are encouraging to others on IGTV/FB Live! I have these also posted on my Youtube channel.
Have you read “Stories for the Urban Soul” and are eager to dialogue about your favorite characters, lessons learned, and so much more? Well, now you can download 20 Dialogue questions available on my website to discuss with your friends! Just enter your email in the pop up box and its there!
As always thank you for your support!