When interpreting Scripture, it’s all too easy to impose our own ideas onto the text, rather than drawing out what the biblical author and the Holy Spirit intended to convey. Sound biblical exegesis is all about getting back to the original author’s intent so we can faithfully apply the text to our lives, and the lives of those…
When Jesus is asked to sum up the law, he responds with two commands involving love: In both commands, the English translation “love” translates the Greek verb agapao. Partly because agape is one of those Greek words that many theologically literate Christians know (along with logos, christos, doulos, and a few others), Bible readers often…
Paul. He just couldn’t let his brother-in-law be happy with this woman. He pitied Michael. He wasn’t sorry Michael hadn’t found Angel. He was sorry Michael was torn up about losing her. She wasn’t worth grieving over. She was coming between them.
Paul is set on avoiding Miriam’s attention. Yet his heart would jump when she would visit. He thinks she would be perfect for Michael.
“I’ve got no right feeling this way about a girl like her”
Angels words ran through his head,
“I know what I am, mister, but our call yourself his brother?”
He should just go the nearest brothel for his desires but the very thought of it sickened him. Life was empty and meaningless with out Tess.
He would make it up to Michael by leaving Miriam alone so that when Angel would leave him again there would be a decent girl waiting for him.
He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t stop thinking of Miriam. A year ago, he hadn’t thought the pain of losing Tess would ever go away. But then, a year ago, he thought he would never fall in love again…
Miriam confesses she loves Michael but she loves Amanda too. She dreams of marrying some day and knows finding a man a good and wonderful as Michael will be hard. Michael mentions her interest in Paul and Angel gives him a NO Way NO How. But he drops it with
“Leave it to the Lord”.
“They look good together don’t they”
Paul taunts Angel as Miriam and Michael dance together as the Altman’s party. Michael reminded her to be patient with Paul. She would swallow her pride if need be. For Michaels’s sake, she would take whatever Paul had to throw at her.
Angel watched the two people she loved most in the world dancing together and laughing and wondering if Paul wasn’t right about everything. Would she stay put or run and hurt Michael again?
Poor Angel, such a beautiful night of love the night before, but that’s the reason she has to leave. She’s falling in love with Michael. But love doesn’t last. It’s not enough. They all leave eventually and so would Michael. So she had to go now.
She was being protected over by her Heavenly Father but she didn’t know who He was yet. She got a ride with an older man, a traveling salesman who wasn’t very good at selling or peddling his wares. The men in the camps were cruel and mean to him.
This time to pay for her ride, she helped him sell out of all his wares. He was very pleased. He said she had talent for sales. That’s a first, a talent for something other than pleasing men.
Sacramento, getting dark and no where to go. There is her Heavenly Father once again in the darkness giving her a beacon of hope.
Hochschild’s General Mercantile
Joseph was so happy to see her. She would stay with him and work for him. She had been told she had a talent for sales so now on her own she would have a place to stay and a decent job she was good at.
Joseph sent word of course and told Michael she was there. Why not, they were friends after all and he know Michael would be out of his mind with worry.
Once again, Michael her Savior, was standing in the doorway. Oh how her heart skipped a beat, love, happy to see his face again but then fear and panic. She tried to get free of his grip but she really was putty in his hands. She resisted but he knew she was not fighting him but fighting loving him.
“You want to know what love feels like to me? It feels like you’re ripping my heart out.”
When he drew her back into his arms again, she didn’t resist. He loved her and she knew now she loved him.
“You make me hope, Michael. I don’t know if that’s good or not.”
Michael agreed that Joseph let her stay as a favor to Michael. He also know God had His hand on her when she walked in that door that day.
“It was pure luck that I found Joseph when I did, Michael.”
Angel didn’t want to think of what might have happened if she hadn’t found the storekeeper. She was so weak. It was a loathsome thing to face about herself.
“You saved me again, Michael”
“I’m only a tool, beloved. Not your savior.”
Back home again felt right. She went right back to work helping her farmer husband by being a good farmers wife. She loved working with him, getting her hands dirty. Took pride and ownership in her work. She was loving becoming a farmer.
Angel admits to her new best friend, Miriam the he only has to look at her and she melts.
Paul has spoken to Miriam about how Angel has hurt Michael and he thinks she will run again. Miriam gets angry and defends her but little Ruthie overhears and tells Angel.
Angel could be angry and lash out at Paul but instead she honors her husband and defends Paul, not wanting Michael to know Paul is still badmouthing his wife. After all, its the truth.
As Angel compares herself to Michael, he confesses to her that he has many things he is ashamed of also and not deserving of this blessing they have together. He tells her:
“Don’t you see, neither of us deserve this. Every Blessing comes down from the Father, not in payment for good done, but as a gift.”
God, she believed God was wrath and that He would continually punishing her for living a life she was forced into by a seedy old drunk who didn’t know what he was doing. God was unmerciful and enjoyed inflicting pain.
“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 be good enough to deserve a decent life. I take away the decency of others just by being near them”
“Oh God, if you are there, why have you done this to him?”
“For you, Beloved!”
Each chapter now holds so much emotion. So much hope. So much despair.
Surprise, the Altman’s will be their neighbors. Angel helped with all the working of pulling off a great surprise. It didn’t matter though if the Altman’s moved to Oregon or just 2 miles away, Angel felt all alone again.
She began withdrawing. Seeing the baby growing in Elizabeth was a constant reminder that she couldn’t give Michael a baby. Not just him but she wanted one also now. Someone to love with out expectations. Miriam would be a better wife for Michael. Another reason to not stay. She was back in her own cabin again but felt all alone. Falling more in love with Michael every day. Which scared her to death.
Seems like every time Angel visits the Altman’s in their new home Paul is always there. Sneering at her. How she wished he would just let it go and accept she wasn’t going to hurt Michael again. She was staying. She was falling in love. Michael’s touch was beginning to mean everything to Angel. His touch could melt her.
How long before would she lose Michael like she always loses anyone that she cared for. Michael fed her hope but Duke says hope is deadly. She could hear Duke say:
“Love is a trap, Angel. Stick to pleasure. It doesn’t require any great commitment.”
Angel now falling deeply in love confessed the worst of all that she has done. Michael is appalled, they had the biggest fight ending with her slapping him. He wanted to slap her back but with God’s help he finds his way back to her even more compassion and love.
“Do you ever get the feeling Dog is playing some horrible joke on you?” She asks Michael.
Why would God do such a terrible thing like this to Michael, Angel questions him. Michael admits he has asked God the same thing himself. But he knows the truth. He tells Angel,
“To strengthen me. I’m not strong enough for what’s yet to come”
Before leaving Sacramento, Michael stopped at a small building. He intended to go to church. He missed the fellowship, singing with others and the sermon. Angel tried to sit and enjoy it like Michael was but the preacher was looking right at her and she felt all eyes were on her, so she bolted.
Michael left her to sit alone in the wagon while he went back in to worship. Angels idea of God was a great eye in the sky waiting for a chance to squash you like a bug. Oh, mom had been Catholic but in Angels mind God had no forgiveness for mom or her. Angel had not forgiven anyone either.
“Amanda, what are you afraid of?” Michael ask again, “Did anyone ever say anything nice to you?”
“What do you see in the mirror Amanda?” Michael asked “my mother” Angel said.
Michael opened up on the ride telling Angel about his life with his father and an old slave he loved very much. He told how his father gave him over to that slave, took all his inheritance, family, everything away from him.
“You must have hated him.” Angel said, but Michael smiled and said, “No. I loved him, and I’m grateful he was my father. Without all that, I might have never come to know the Lord, and in the end, my father had more reason to hate me. I left and took my sister Tess and Paul, her husband, with me.”
Angel felt a soft warm feeling curling in side her. She wasn’t feeling threatened nor used with this man. When he smiled at her she found herself smiling back.
The Altman family were stranded on the road and Michael insisted on helping them get their wagon wheel back on and he invited them to stay with them for the winter. Angel couldn’t believe it. He even told them they could have the cabin and he and Amanda would stay in the barn. The Barn?
The Altman’s said she was an Angel of Mercy. Angel took care of that quickly by informing Mariam how Michael had met her in a brothel.
Miriam wasn’t rude or shocked or anything. She asked if they could be friends. Angel hadn’t been friends with any good girls. What would they have in common.
Angel watched the Altman’s and Michael as they all got to know each other better. Mrs. Altman made dresses for Angel out of the material they had purchased in town. She said a newlywed needed nice undergarments too so she gave them to her as a special gift.
Angel couldn’t understand this kindness and affection for a complete stranger. She was guarded but did like having someone to talk with and help with the chores and all.
At night they played games while dad played the fiddle. Sang hymns of God and His love. No way was Angel going to sing praises to God for anything.
“Not yet” Michael said as he held her in his arms. She could feel him touching deep inside her fanning the spark into a flame.
Little Ruthie never left Amanda’s side. She started calling her Mandy. She tried to tell them her real name was Angel and Michael called her Amanda. But they all said they thought Mandy fit her better.
Miriam and Angel were becoming closer and talking about men and love. Miriam was interest in meeting Paul, Michaels brother-in-law who lived near by. Miriam shared that she could only dream of having a man like Michael love her. Paul wasn’t that man.
Angel was settling in yet she kept hearing the Duke’s words:
“Everybody wants something Angel. Nobody gives you anything without expecting something back.”
Angel closing her eyes, said “I don’t believe you anymore, Duke.”
She was going to pretend that she was pure and whole and not let the nightmares of the last 10 years destroy it for her. Not this time. Not if she could help it.
I pretended also when I first came to church, no way was God going to forgive for the ugly things in my life. I was content just watching Him from a distance. I didn’t deserve Grace, that was for the Good People. I can relate to Angel in so many ways. Can you?
Staring at the Palace, Angel felt fear once again. The Palace was gone. Burned down nothing left but charred rubble. Why, why did she leave the safe, soft arms of Michael to chase a dream of getting her gold and settling down in cabin of her own.
Smoke, the dream was now all going up in smoke just like the Palace.
Angel was soon back in business. Paid the owner, Murphy, with the only thing she had to barter with. Her body. He wanted it all. Her, for himself and a large cut of the action.
She had no gold, no clothes, no food, no place no friends. She was right back where she started in San Francisco. Except it was winter now and snowing. That voice in her head is saying what she knows now in her heart.
“There is never going to be a cabin, nothing is ever going to change. I should have stayed with Michael“.
The days ran together. She was right back where she started so long ago, numb, existing but not living. Long ago, really has lived out life in only a year and a half.
Angel sat on her bed eyes tightly closed, she made no sound, but the room was filled with silent screaming waiting for the next young miner. He smelled of fresh soap. Hurry up, lets get this done.
“Michael! Oh, Michael” Angel had never seen him so angry. He had never been this angry. He could fight off an army if he had to. He had to save Angel from herself!
“Anyone else want to come between me and my Wife?” Angel trembled with fear.
After a while they stopped the wagon on the way back to Michaels home and Michael tried to talk to Angel begging her to tell him why? But she became angry, at him, at the world, at life, and lashed back at Michael with all the fear and hate she had bottled up inside. Broken in piece right before his eyes.
When she finally stopped hitting him, he pulled her into his arms and held her tightly. He could feel her whole body shaking violently. He could feel the fear radiating from her. His rage frightened him. If he had hit her back once, he would have killed her.
He had almost gone out of his mind when she left him. Afraid he had lost her.
After trying to wash her life and sins away in the cold creek with gravel she finally let her guard down and started telling Michael about her life. From birth until present day. Michael confessed to Amanda how he wanted to kill her. He too was a sinner and in need of God’s grace and forgiveness.
Michael now sees her, instead of a harlot he has rescued, as the nameless child who had been broken and was lost. Michael starts to see she needs a new life, new clothes and a change of scenery. He takes her to Sacramento as a way to start fresh for both of them. Angel is allowing him in little by little. Some boys in town call her lady and for the first time she sees that maybe, just maybe she could be a lady.
“You are not a prostitute anymore, Amanda. You are my wife.” Michael smiled. “You can love me as much as you want and feel safe.”
Falling in love meant you lost control of your emotions and your will and your life. It meant you lost yourself. And Angel couldn’t risk that, even with this man.
Oh, how many times have I felt that I couldn’t let go and let God. Was He all He said He was? I was so afraid until I finally let go and trusted HIM!
Angel woke up Dreaming about Duke.
“You can’t get away from the Duke, the Alpha and Omega. Four thousand miles was far enough, yet here I am”
Had it really been a year? Seemed like only yesterday. She knew he was still looking for his property. For now it is only in her dreams that Duke finds her.
Michael took her up to the place high on his property to see the stars. Like the night sky, full of bright shiny stars against black velvet, her reality would soon fade as the night sky turned back to day and the stars would fade. Bright hope would fade as daylight returned to her life.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape the truth. She was guilty of being born.
Four months and she was still walking wounded. That’s what Michael said as Angel moved about. She had seen the stars, he was offering her hope for the future but she was “walking wounded”.
I think I have “walked wounded”, unable to move on past the pain and hurt. I think it has taken me years, lots of therapy, love from my husband, many self-help books to finally see all I really need was to allow God to work in me and forgive myself. God has already redeemed me just like He is redeeming Angel but if you don’t walk in the Spirit you might be walking wounded.
Michael was not only hearing God’s voice but he was starting to hear a dark and powerful one.
Angel didn’t like the emotions that Michael was stirring up in her. She had never been treated like this before in her life. He complimented and encouraged her. He had a sense of humor and made her comfortable with her mistakes. HE GAVE HER HOPE.
Yet the same dark and powerful voice Michael heard was talking to Angel.
“You have to go back to Pair-a-Dice, get your gold, get a place of your own. Oh sure you can repay Michael first with chores and help him around the farm, but you must go back”
Michael could see some softening even though they had a huge fight, she was finally opening up some. Letting him in a little. He gave her another name now. Amanda, softer and happier name.
Finally admitted on that terrible last night at the Palace, she had wanted to die and Michael ruined it for her by saving her life. Now she was trapped as his wife.
Michael wanted desperately to show her the love between a husband and a wife. Finally with God’s help he did. Some unknown and unwelcome emotion opened deep inside Angel. Something hard and tight began to soften and uncurl. As it did, the dark voice arose.
“Get away from this man, Angel. You’ve got to get out of here! Save yourself and flee!
Paul is home. Michael’s brother-in-law.
I can’t believe how he treats Angel. Michael was a little naïve thinking he would accept Amanda, knowing the odds were good that Paul would have been to the Palace himself. Like a tattling little brother he runs to tell Michael all about the woman he loves and how she is no good for him. Michael wasn’t having it. I am glad. He should have hit him a few more times.
Michael forgave Paul but sent him on his way. Little did Michael know that Amanda would catch up with Paul and ask for a ride back to Pair-a-Dice. Hell more like it.
Paul didn’t think Angel was good enough for Michael. But he got his price for the ride. Then informed her she wasn’t worth more than two bits.
I loved her reply:
“I know what I am. I never pretended to be anything else. Not once. Not ever!.”
“Here you are, borrowing Michaels wagon and horses and his gold and using his wife….And what do you call yourself? His brother“
Michael talked with God often. They seemed to have a good relationship until this point in Chapter 5 and now in 6 when he started questioning God and doubting himself.
“Lord, you said to do Your Will and I am trying. But does it have to hurt much?”
I know how Michael feels. I can’t tell you the times when I definitely know I am in God’s Will. Often with it comes painful humbling, resentful repentance, not sure why, If He loved me; would He make me crawl like this?
I did it but wasn’t always happy about it.
Michael left Angel in Pair-a-Dice physically but he couldn’t get her off his mind.
That’s how it feels when God is asking you to step up and do what He says. You know in your heart He never lets you down and it always works out when you follow His Will. Yet you hold back, you rebel, you postpone. I have anyway, how about you?
He was hesitant to go back but He followed God’s Will.
I am so glad Michael went back and listened to God’s nudging. Michael said to Angel as he carried her out of her room at the Palace: broken, black and blue, barely alive:
“I want to marry you before we get out of town.” What choice did she have? Angel said, ” I would marry Satan himself if that will get me out of the Palace… By the way, my name isn’t Mara. It’s Angel.”
His face hardened.
“Angel was a prostitute in Pair-a-Dice, she doesn’t exist anymore. You are my Wife .”
Ever wanted to change your name?
Sometimes my friends and I would change our names but more to escape. But here in our story, Angel is getting a new chance at a new life if only she could see it. Right now she still hurts and needs Michael help to do things but soon she will get her own place and get out of the business.
Michael had left all of Angels things when they left. She had nothing. He said he would provide all she needed. Our heavenly Father tells us that. Are we satisfied knowing that?
Are we like Angel as we say with a forced smile,
“I will forever be grateful for this bounty” mocking Michael as he gives her his sisters old clothes to wear.
Angel doesn’t know a thing about Michael, farming, doing chores or cooking. Michael with such patience is trying to teach her. I just can’t help seeing over and over the Fathers Love for us as Michael loves the wife God gave him.
How sad that Angel thought the only think “right” she could do was offer pleasure to satisfy Michael. That was all she knew how to do. It wasn’t working though.
Yet Michael was in love with her without a sexual component.
I have been there. Being the life of the party I was very popular in more ways than I care to share. I eventually realized that they only wanted me in the bedroom not to take home to mom or go on nice places. It took me several years to figure that out. All my teenage life actually.
I hope Angel sees Michaels true love for her and God as we read the next 5 chapters together.
Don’t forget to “Follow” me so you won’t miss out on a post and reply with your comments too, as we continue to read Redeeming Love.
ps. thanks for your patience as I have finally worked most of the bugs out on this blog.
Am I going too fast or too slow? Let me know where you are in the book.
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her.
15 “Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the valley of Achor as a door of hope.
And she will sing there as in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
16 “It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord,
“That you will call Me Ishi
And will no longer call Me Baali.
17 “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth,
So that they will be mentioned by their names no more.
18 “In that day I will also make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
The birds of the sky
And the creeping things of the ground.
And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land,
And will make them lie down in safety.
19 “I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.
21 “It will come about in that day that I will respond,” declares the Lord.
“I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,
22 And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil,
And they will respond to Jezreel.
23 “I will sow her for Myself in the land.
I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,
And I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’
And they will say, ‘You are my God!’ ”