‘Redeeming Love’ portrays God’s forgiveness, grace

Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries

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Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries

The music starts, and the anxious groom fixes his eyes on the angelic figure walking down the aisle. It is a short walk that will change their lives forever. The vows are exchanged — vows of unfailing love through mountaintops and valleys, of faithfulness and longsuffering.

There is a reason why wedding ceremonies are emotional. They bear the expectation of a lifetime of unwavering love, faithfulness and endurance — something every human being desires.

Scriptures demonstrate the intrinsic correlation between marriage and God’s relationship with his children. In the 12th chapter of Genesis, God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, which he would never break.

The Old Testament tells the saga of a people too fickle to maintain their side of the covenant. But every time Israel chose to break her side of the covenant, God would pursue her with undying love, ready to forgive, heal and restore.

The book of Hosea is perhaps the best illustration of God’s abiding love for his children. God told the prophet to marry Gomer, a prostitute, telling him that she would be unfaithful. She bore his children but continually left the marriage covenant to chase her lovers. Hosea pursued her and forgave her, time and again.

It is a true love story, transcending the young prophet and his broken wife. God made a covenant with Israel and remained faithful. But Israel, like Gomer, was unfaithful and adulterous, despising God’s love and turning to her desires and serving false gods. But God would maintain his promise, forgive and restore his people, just as Hosea forgave Gomer.

On Jan. 21, the movie “Redeeming Love” was released in theaters nationwide. Directed by D.J. Caruso and based on the 1991 novel by New York bestselling author Francine Rivers, the movie is based on Hosea and Gomer’s love story. It takes place against the backdrop of the California Gold Rush of 1850.

The story centers on Angel, a prostitute who bears the scars of a life filled with suffering until she meets Michael Hosea — a Christian farmer who knows that God wants him to marry her. Filled with self-loathing and pain, Angel does not accept his love and flees the marriage. But Michael’s love is unwavering, and he pursues her, a beautiful portrait of God’s faithfulness.

I had the privilege of interviewing producer Cindy Bond (“Noah,” “I Can Only Imagine,” “Miracle on 42nd Street,” “The King’s Daughter”), as well as Rivers for my YouTube Channel and upcoming podcast show. Our conversation began with how the story of Hosea changed her view of God’s love for humankind when she became a Christian in her 30s:

“Redeeming love was my statement of faith. (…) The Bible is a love story. It’s a romance from beginning to end about how much God loves his people, how he tries to reach us and woo us, and we constantly turn away. And we can certainly identify with Gomer. If there is a problem, we look to friends, to how-to books, but we don’t turn to God.”

Indeed, it’s true. Like the bride and groom, though radiant on the day of their wedding, promising undying love and faithfulness, we often turn away from the covenant we made with God to pursue pleasure, money or status. Hosea’s story reminds us that God is ever seeking us, bringing us back to the safety of his arms.

“Redeeming Love” is a must-read and must-see. For three decades, this beautiful story has reminded millions of people that there is always a way back to a God whose relentless, undying passion for his bride never fails.

Watch Patricia’s interviews starting Monday, Jan. 31, on her blog and YouTube channel.

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger and international speaker. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com