'He [Jesus] gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right.' -Titus 2:14I have an excuse.
If you've never read it, I suggest you find a copy and clear out a week of time to hibernate as you will not be able to put it down. Yes, it is that good. Throughout the past couple of years, many of my friends have told me 'You HAVE to read this book.' Taking their advice I tried.
Each time I got no further than the 28 page Prologue. Many reasons contributed to my inability to get past this section; the main reason being Grad school. I also HATED how the first part read-it was depressing, non-attention grabbing, and I could not see anything great about the book. [I have since then been told that it was me who had the problem, not the Prologue. Ha!]
That changed 3 weeks ago, however, when I tired of people telling me that it should be the very next book that I read. I sat down with the determination of a stubborn two-year-old and intended to push through and read it in it's entirety whether I liked it or not.
And I didn't like it.
Not at first, anyways. I literally got sick to my stomach when I read the last sentence of the Prologue, wanting to throw it across the room. But, remembering my determination, I picked it back up the next day and from that point on I was unable to tear it away from my hands until I made it through to the back cover. Somewhere between that last sentence of the Prologue and the beginning of Chapter 1 I got lost in identifying too closely with the main character Angel.
WHY THIS BOOK SPOKE TO ME:
While I have never worked in prostitution, I have often felt unworthy and unclean, just as Angel does in the book. There are many other self-destructive habits that can lead to similar emotional, mental, and physical abuse.
I grew up thinking and believing that perfect was the only way to be. Only way to be accepted. Only way to be worth anything. Perfect was expected. I also grew up hearing and knowing that God forgives and forgets, no exceptions. Of course He can-He's God! But how can that same love and acceptance transcend into a human-especially a man-who is willing to accept me for who I am, the things that I have done, and a past that I so desperately want to forget? I am not perfect. Never have been. Never will be.
There is a particular scene in the book where Michael finds Angel scrubbing her skin so hard-to rid it of dirt, or sin-that she literally rubs large sores all over her body. I have wanted to do that on countless occasions. It is so hard to grasp the concept that God requires nothing so physically painful to receive His forgiveness. Emotionally and mentally, sure, but nothing that will hurt our physical person.
WHY I KNOW THIS BOOK WILL SPEAK TO YOU:
Everyone, guy or girl, has been in Angel's shoes; everyone enters into this world as a sinner. Your story may not be as drastic or your past not seem as 'bad' as Angel's but the Bible tells us that God sees no difference between thinking of sinning and acting upon that thought. Sin is not measured in degrees.
'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.' -Romans 3:23You may also relate to the book's supporting actor, Michael. A believer and God-fearing man, his love for and dependency on God is evident from the very first time he enters the scene. Perhaps you are a Michael: a messed up background, pursued by the love of Christ through another individual, and seeking to pass that love and truth to the person(s) God has placed in your path.
While Michael is still a human like you and me-struggling daily with trusting completely in the Lord's plan-he is a beautiful testimony [through God's help and strength] of what Christ's love looks like:
Paul leaned forward. "You're the one who still doesn't understand, Amanda [Sarah]. There's something I didn't even comprehend until now because I was too stubborn and jealous and proud.... Michael chose you. With all your past, with all your frailties, with everything. He knew from the beginning where you came from, and it didn't make a difference to him. There were plenty of women back home who would have jumped at the chance to marry him. Sweet, sensible virgin girls from God-fearing families. He never fell in love with any of them. He took one look at you, and he knew. Right from the beginning. You. No one else. He told me all that, but I thought it was sex. Now I know it wasn't. It was something else."
"A crazy accident-"
"I think it's because he knew how much you needed him."
That passage is so beautiful; I don't think that it bodes any explanation.-Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, pgs 451-452
Now, before I blog on and on about the reasons why you should be the next person to read this phenomenal book and I get a phone call from my sister telling me that my last blog post was good but toooooooo long for enjoyment, I will leave you with this one, final thought:
If you haven't already done so, go read it now; guy or girl. And, if you have read it, pass your copy on to someone who 1) you think needs to read it, 2) you think would enjoy reading it, or 3) is a human being.
'Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up.' -Hosea 6:1