Several years ago, a dear friend of mine recommended a set of five books to me and graciously loaned them to me to read. It was called The Lineage of Grace Series and was written by Francine Rivers. Each book told the story of a different woman within Christ's genealogy. These five women are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheeba, and Mary. I was instantly hooked. She had taken characters and stories from the Bible, and written a work of "fiction", which gave me the opportunity to discover what these people had possibly felt, experienced, etc. It's easy to forget that these people were real, or that they had emotions, and all the circumstances surrounding their particular situation. She had taken these real people, and put them in perspective, if you will. It gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for these women, and Mrs. Rivers instantly became a favorite author of mine.
This past spring, I finally got around to reading The Scarlet Thread, which I devoured in about a week. And, over vacation, I read Redeeming Love in about three days. (Seriously, I must warn you. You cannot put these books down. They pull you in and you will find yourself staying up til the wee hours of the morning to finish one more chapter. Okay, consider yourself warned.)
My sister had previously read Redeeming Love as had several college friends. Many said, "It will change your life." Now, I can't say it "changed my life", but I did thoroughly enjoy it, and it paints a BEAUTIFUL picture of God's amazing grace and the work He does in His children's lives. It is a powerful retelling of the story of Hosea from the Bible, set in the 1800s, I believe. If you are unfamiliar with the Book of Hosea, I'll give you a short summary. Hosea is a prophet who was instructed to marry a prostitute. God talks to Hosea about what he goes through each time the children of Israel rebel against him. If you think of it this way, we are the bridegroom of Christ, and we continually turn our back on him to run to our other idols and things of this world. To put it plainly, we go whoring after the world, when we have been redeemed completely from it. Yet, he continues to love us, and always will love us. He wants us to find complete fulfillment in Him, and not in anything else. God talks to Hosea about how Israel has valued the things of this world and runs to those things, when he is offering something so much better. In Redeeming Love we get to know Angel, who has been mistreated since she was young, and sold into prostitution at a young age. We travel West with her, where Michael Hosea meets her, and takes her from the brothel to come and be his wife. And from there, well, you'll have to read it!
When you finish it, you will continue to think about it for some time. It's just one of those books. I highly recommend it, along with any of Francine Rivers' other books. Next on my list... And the Shofar Blew.