Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Redeeming Love: Part 1


"The prince of darkness is a gentleman." -Shakespeare
  - Sin doesn't take hold in our lives aggressively and all at once. It creeps, seduces, and gradually worms its way in until we can't remember what life was like before. Satan may be a charmer, but he will turn on you faster than you can believe.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. - Romans 7:19
  - Ever find yourself doing something you know is wrong, and yet you continue anyway? You may even think you know the consequences and feel no matter what happens, it's worth it. Prayer is a powerful weapon against a circumstance like this. We must pray for awareness of what we shouldn't do and the will-power to not continue down the wrong path.

"I am dying of thirst by the side of the fountain." -Charles D' Orleans
  - No matter where we go or what we do, God's love is constant. I love this quote because it's an excellent reminder that it is a choice to starve yourself of God's love. He never takes it away from us. All we have to do is turn to Him and accept His perfect love.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest. - Jesus, Matthew 11:29
  - This verse reminds me that while the world wants to pile heavy burdens on our shoulders, God offers a lighter option with love and rest. This doesn't mean we get a free pass with nothing to worry about, but that the weight we do carry will be manageable with God's love.

Redeeming Love is a story that I like to read once a year around Christmas. With all of the hubbub going on around me about decorations and gifts, I like focusing in on the true meaning of Christmas: How God LOVES us so much that He sent us the greatest GIFT of all, His Son. His perfect love is an immense blessing that we sometimes (ok, all the time) take for granted. Michael and Angel's story may be set in a different era than our own and may be the extreme of many of our struggles, but there is so much to be learned from the way God moves in their lives.

This novel is mirrored after the book of Hosea. We encourage you to read the original account as well as Redeeming Love so that you can truly understand how deeply God's love ran to and through the characters. Let's take a look at the Prologue-Chapter 11.

The beginning of the book takes us through Angel's childhood. We see glimpses of her experiences and start to understand why she is in her current situation. The many horrors she faced for the majority of her life begin to define and shape her. Tragically, this is a life that all too many women either have or currently experience. While some of us can never understand being forced into a cruel, demeaning world at a young age, we know what it's like to feel out of control. We've been in a situation where it felt like there was nowhere to turn but to ourselves, no one to trust but us. But just like in Angel's case, God can use people to turn us back to Him.

Michael is a man after God's own heart by every definition. He follows God's will down a path that removes Angel from a desperate place to one where God can use him to restore her soul. We end this week's reading with Angel filled with doubt. Instead of trusting a God she doesn't believe in, she leans on her own understanding. What will she do next? Will Michael be able to convince her to stay or will she always feel the need to leave?

I'll end this discussion with a few questions (found at the end of the book) for you to think on:
- Which character do you identify with most and why?
- Describe a time when you were rejected or betrayed. To whom did you turn and why?
- When you have faced rejection or betrayal, was God calling you? What good has He worked in your life in relation to those circumstances?

Next week's discussion will be on Chapters 12-23.

God Bless,

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