I have been following the stories of Nigerians who were deported from Libya with great interest. Just the other day I was listening to one deportee relating the stories of their suffering and how “they were treated worse than animals,” she said. I couldn’t help but wonder what makes a human being to treat another human being like that. My interest in their stories comes from the fact that I am familiar with the place; I have spent a season of my life there.
During my stay there, I spent days and nights reading a book by Francis Rivers “Redeeming Love.” I thought this romantic novel was going to help me understand some things about love. Anything that has to do with love sparks my interest. One of my favorite songs in my late teens was by British – American band, Foreigner, “I want to know what love is,” I was also fascinated by Billy Ocean’s “The color of love.” I desperately needed to know love, in its entirety.
“Redeeming Love” is a love story based on the book of Hosea in the bible. God instructed the Prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, not just to marry her but to love her. No matter how much Hosea loved Gomer, she still went back to her old ways. I spent my time reading this book trying to figure out why this woman who was so loved, kept running away from Hosea’s loving arms.
The longing of my heart has always been to be loved. And because of that, I have worked very hard to earn the love, admiration and friendship of others. “If I am to be loved, I have to earn it,” so I thought. Anything that comes freely without my effort has always been suspicious. Yes, Jesus loves me for the bible tells me so. But I have always thought He loves me when I am good.
In Hosea’s relationship with Gomer, we see a wonderful picture of the redemption we have in Jesus Christ. Gomer is a picture of the lost sinner. In spite of how she has hurt him, Hosea still loves her. What an awesome picture this is of the great love of the Father for me.
This love pursued me while I was a sinner, and brought me home where I belong. Once in a while like Gomer, I find myself straying away from this love, but it keeps pursuing my stubborn heart. Always reminding me of what God had said about me in Isaiah 43 v 1 ……He who created you, Octavia, He who formed you, Tavy. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are Mine.”
His love sought me out when I have nothing to give in return. His love found me while I was desperately looking for man’s acceptance, meanwhile Ephesians 1 v 3 -6 tells me that Jesus has already accepted me. His love found me while I was searching for love, meanwhile Ephesians 3 v 19 tells me that I was already loved by God.His love found me while I was searching for my worth, meanwhile 2 Thes 1 v 11 – 12 tells me that He had already made me worthy.
His love corrects me when I am wrong, like the prodigal son, it gives me courage to want to go back home to my Father, although expecting the Father treat me like one of his slaves, because I have messed up. Instead of condemning me or shamming me, He embraced me and reminded me that I am “His Beloved.”
There is a song by Cory Asbury called “Reckless Love”, this Easter weekend as I was meditating on God’s love for me, I suddenly heard my own voice speaking to God through the lines that say:
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me.
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me
Maybe like me you have been working very hard to earn the love and admiration of other people, let me tell you something, this will only lead you on a dead end. But when you know who you are and how much you are loved by God, your longing to be loved and accepted by man disappears.
This Easter you too can overcome your longing to be loved by others, and instead experience the transforming power of the love of God. After all, He paid the ultimate price for you.
He wants you as you are. Broken as you are, He will fix your brokenness. Empty as you are, He will fill your emptiness. Limping as you are, He will hold your hand while you limp, until your limp becomes a walk and your walk becomes run and your run becomes a flight.
In a world filed with pain and suffering, love founded on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the remedy our souls need.