The Return.

If you grew up in a typical youth group in the 2000s, then I’m sure you heard of Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. You may not have read it, but you probably heard of it. Oh, you didn’t? It was only MY youth group that was full of girls obsessed with this book? Doubtful. Well, if you haven’t heard of it or read it, then here’s a quick synopsis. It’s a modern-day (and by modern-day, I mean 1800s) version of the account of Hosea. A guy named Michael Hosea, who is a farmer in California, marries a prostitute. She leaves him, she sleeps with his brother-in-law, she leaves him again…you get the point. The ending is different than the book of Hosea, but the whole story is about, you guessed it, redeeming love.

I first read this book when I was in 7th, maybe 8th, grade. I was young, for sure. This book is intense, and as I’ve recently re-read it (for at least the fourth time) almost 10 years later, I wonder what I was thinking when I first read it. I was (and still am to some degree) very naive about sexual relationships. This book is ALL about how God redeems someone who has seen sex as nothing more than a job, not the beautiful gift God intended it to be for husband and wife. But, more than that, this story is about the return. It’s about a woman’s return to her husband, and it’s ultimately about man’s return to the Lord.

Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth. – Hosea 6:1-3

I love this book. I’ve always loved reading about people’s redemption stories. I love seeing how people return to the Lord after weeks, months, years, decades away from him. I’ve always enjoyed hearing about stories like this and all that God does in the hearts of those who return to him. In September, I read another one of Francine Rivers’ books about this same topic. Again, I was so drawn to it. I love redemption stories. Over the past few months, I’ve even begun to pray for my own redemption story. I wanted it, but I didn’t do anything about my sin. I didn’t try to confess it, ask for forgiveness, or even act differently. I just wanted a redemption story.

In the last week, I’ve had to deal with some of the sin that I try to constantly hide and tell myself isn’t a problem in my life when in reality it totally is. I’ve had to confess that I DIDN’T follow the “rules”, and here I am, dealing with the consequences. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I love rules for the sake of rules, and I can relate more to the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin than I can to those who dropped everything and followed Jesus. Grace just doesn’t make that much sense to me, and I’ve been scared to literally return to the Lord because I’m waiting to be punished.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more; – Romans 5:20

He gives us grace. Transgression increases because of the Law, but because of that sin, HIS grace abounds all the more. He gives us grace. He doesn’t walk away from us in our time of need, nor does He punish us just because He can. There are no strings attached in this return to Him. Just like the father in the story of the prodigal son, our God, our Father, runs to us to embrace us when we return. He even pursued us as we walked away from Him. The return to Him is full of grace and love and more than we could ever imagine or give because it only makes sense for Him to give it.

We lay ourselves at the feet of our Redeemer to accept His will. We are sometimes on the cold, hard ground of life, putting our reputation at risk, waiting for our redemption. Our Redeemer does not recoil in horror. He does not reject us. He looks at us, small and shivering, and gathers us close to Him. He loves us. – She Reads Truth

How beautiful is this picture? He doesn’t reject us. We can put every single bit of ourselves out there–all of our nasty sin, all of our flaws, all of the things we try to hide behind the mask we so carefully put on each morning, all of us, and He doesn’t reject us. And just not that, He LOVES us. He continues to love us each day as we go through our redemption process. It isn’t easy–and He doesn’t promise that it will be. But, His love is ENOUGH. Enough to make it through the days where nothing seems to make sense. Enough to cover all of the past sin, the current sin, and the sin you haven’t even committed. Enough to be content in the place, job, city, etc. He has you in now. Enough to trust in the fact that He has a big, incredible plan that you could never come up with on your own. His love for us is ENOUGH.

So, friends, I invite you to return to Him. It’s scary and hard, and your sin is fun and enticing and right there waiting for you to turn back to it. But, don’t let Satan win. Return to your Redeemer, because His love is enough.

 

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