Okay, so I’m gonna get to all that housework, I am.
But last night, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I “reread” a book in my mind that I read over the holidays, and I just had to tell you about it while I drink my coffee. I was home sick with the Duke on the Sunday after Christmas at my in-laws house, and I picked up this book of my mother-in-law’s. It’s called Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers.
This novel is a stunning retelling of the Bible story of Hosea and Gomer. You know that one? God tells Hosea, a prophet, to marry Gomer, a “not-so-former” prostitute. Their story is wrenching, as Gomer betrays Hosea over and over, but he doesn’t give up on her. It is the picture of our relationship with God, how faithless and fickle we, His bride, can be. And yet, His love is unchanging, forgiving, reaching us even when we’ve turned away from Him. God keeps His promises, His vows, even as we are breaking ours. (I won’t tell you how that story ends, because I don’t want to spoil the retelling!)
So, with that Bible story as the basis for this book, we meet Michael Hosea, a farmer in California during the Gold Rush.
“Michael Hosea was a quiet man, but there wasn’t anything soft about him. There was something in his look that made men treat him with respect. It wasn’t just his height or the strength of his body, which were both impressive enough. It was the clear steadiness of his gaze. He knew what he was about even if the rest of the world didn’t.”
And Sarah, his Gomer, his tragic, fallen bride. Complicated, confused, she just can’t be summed up in a single quote. This whole book is an unfolding of her tale, and I will leave it to you. I’ll give you her description of the town they live in, though, as a sample of Ms. River’s stellar literary skill.
“Pair-a-Dice lay in the Mother Lode of California. It was the worst place she could have imagined, a shanty town of golden dreams built out of rotting sails from abandoned ships; a camp inhabited by outcasts and aristocrats, the displaced and dispossessed, the once-pampered and now-profane canvas-roofed bars and gambling houses lined mean streets ruled by unmasked depravity and greed, loneliness and grand illusions. Pair-a-Dice was wild jubilation. It wed black despair with fear and the foul taste of failure.”
It has all the elements of a pioneer tale, you know- that “something special” that made us all love “Sarah Plain and Tall”? But, it also has the depth and suspense of a gritty reality, as we learn how Sarah came to be in such a place of desperation, of darkness. The dramatic scenes are tastefully written, but still powerful and intense. And woven throughout the whole book is a message of hope, of forgiveness, of redemption— that universal theme in our lives. When I finished this novel, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much God loves me. And yet, I didn’t feel like Francine Rivers was forcing it on me. She didn’t have to– because Truth is just there. She let the story tell itself.
A book that does all that, definitely deserves passing along. A book that makes you think, that makes you feel, that makes you meditate on God’s goodness, is a book worth reading.
So, that’s my two cents for the morning. Now, done with my coffee, the day awaits.