For All Who Are Thirsty


“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within him.” Angel, a prostitute in Francine River’s “Redeeming Love”, learns the truth behind these words.

Rachel McCord, Staff Writer

“I am dying of thirst by the side of the fountain.” Charles D’Orlean’s words ring true in so many of our lives. We are often so overwhelmed by our thirst and the belief that we will never be able to quench it that we do not see the cup in front of us. Angel in Francine River’s “Redeeming Love”, a fictionalized account of the book of Hosea, is a perfect example of this. Angel is a prostitute in California during the late 1800’s. She was sold into “her trade” at the age of eight, and by the time she is 18, a consistent diet of lies and abuse has convinced her that she is nothing more than a soiled dove; a beautiful face born only to be used by others. She believes her life is  the sentence she was given for the crime of her conception.

“I don’t know what I did wrong. I never knew, but I understood from the earliest time I can remember that I was never going to deserve a good life” (Redeeming Love, 315).

There is no escape. “Nothing ever got better. Things only went from bad to worse. It was wiser to adjust and accept and survive” (Redeeming Love, 71). She has spent the last ten years surviving and denying the pain she believes is inevitable with a plastic smile. Just in time, Michael Hosea comes into her life and just as God told Hosea in the Bible to marry the prostitute, Gomer, Michael is led to buy Angel from the brothel where she lives and take her home as his wife. The newly given Hope of feeling clean, of escaping her past and of living instead of just surviving is both foreign and terrifying to her. Even when she is offered nothing but acceptance, she runs because she knows that nothing good ever lasts, and even if it did, there was no way that she could be worthy of a love so pure and unfaltering. Over time she discovers that Michael’s love for her is sincere. However, this only further convinces her that when Michael, white and stainless, looks beyond her beautiful face, he will find nothing more than dirt-stained rags; his supposed rejection would be the end of her, so she refuses to give him the opportunity. She hardens her heart and attempts to clean and purify herself, to forget the unforgettable. “Searching frantically she found soap and ran for the creek, stripping off her clothes and heedlessly casting them aside, she waded in. The icy air and water bit her flesh but she didn’t care. All she wanted was to be clean, to wash it all away, everything from as far back as she could remember. Maybe right back to the very moment of her conception”                          (Redeeming Love, 202).

As she discovers the depth and reality of Michael’s love for her, she tries desperately to make herself good enough, clean enough for him, but finds that she always falls short, and so she runs again and again. Even when she finally accepts Michael’s love, she is not content because she still lacks the understanding that Michael’s compassion for her is only a shadow of Christ’s love for her. “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots.” (Hosea 14:4-5)

 It is not until she is finally at the end of her rope that she discovers the truth; the truth that she is not worthless. She is valuable and treasured and loved, and her beauty goes beyond her perfect features and body. Even though she was stained, Christ has made her white, and now she can be clean. “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.”        (Hosea 13:14)

Francine Rivers writes with such purpose in “Redeeming Love” that it is not only an account of the book of Hosea, but of each of our lives as well.  She began writing “Redeeming Love” a few years after she became a born-again Christian. After she had given her life back to Jesus, she experienced a period of “writer’s block” and eventually accepted that she would most likely never write again (she had been an author prior to being born-again). However, when she and her husband, Rick, began studying the book of Hosea, she felt led to begin writing again. She has written many other books since then, such as “A Voice in the Wind” and “The Atonement Child”. However, she says that “Redeeming Love” was her favorite. “It was my first year as a born-again Christian, my statement of faith, and the most exciting year I’ve spent writing anything. I felt God’s presence throughout the months of work, as though He were telling me His story through thousands of Scriptures.”

Her inspiration is evident throughout the book; it was written, and will be read with many tears, but also moments of joy through the realization that the parallelism between her book and the Bible also exists within our lives. Her book shouts of the depth and reality of Christ’s love for us, and we are reminded that, though life is often a desert, there is a spring of living water available to us, no matter how undeserving we are. Now I see that maybe sometimes the reason for mountains in our lives, where we are left desperate and thirsty, is that we will discover our need for the water of life. “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within him.”