But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16)
I read a good book Paul Miller wrote about the book of Ruth called “A Loving Life.” Miller shows that a study of the book of Ruth can shed light on what Christian love really means.
Throughout the book, Miller exposes and deflates the obstacles that stand in the way of Christian love. Today, I’ll delve into just one obstacle he mentions: when we disagree with what God is doing in our lives. Today’s Miller quote is “We have to hang in there with the story that God has permitted in our lives.”
Basically, he’s saying that love won’t grow if we avoid dealing with what we don’t like about our lives. The two chief ways we avoid are to become embittered about our lives or to use escapism to get away from our lives.
Presently, I don’t have any major complaints about my life, yet I still can disagree with God’s story for the day. I often prefer a path that’s easier to walk on than the one that God gives to me. I admit, I have grumpiness with God when things do not go my way ……this can even be over something that is pretty minor—-say a computer issue arises that keeps me from doing my work on my timetable.
Then I become just embittered enough that I am not growing in my ability to show love. That kind of grumpiness can be subtle. I mean I’m not fighting with people or anything…. And sometimes I am not even consciously aware of complaining, and, instead, watch an extra hour of TV…. Some TV is fine, but what happens when I start to binge and add an extra hour of it….or two…or three???
Miller shows how Ruth’s life is a kind of sneak preview of what true Christian love is like. She makes quite a sacrifice, deviating from the path that would have been easier for her, to simply remain in her homeland. Instead, she leaves her own land to go with Naomi to a foreign place. Yet there is such liberty in what she does—-Ruth’s declaration of “where you go I will go” to Naomi surely does not have the grudging quality of “oh all right; guess I have to be a martyr; I will do it”. Ruth was a Gentile, yet she had an amazing inpouring of grace from God and even became part of Christ’s geneaology.
Her story is a wonderful picture of what we are called do in our lives in grace in Christ.
Miller argues, and I agree, that often it’s Ruth’s kind of deviation from the easy path that we would prefer to take that can mold us, shape us, and change us more into the image of Christ.
I may like to think that I am the author of my own story, but that is wrong. Because God is the real author. When God says that my own story needs a rewrite, do I resist its author?
Prayer: Lord, when things don’t go my way, may I grow in quickly giving up escapism and bitterness, and grow in accepting what you are permitting in my life.