Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Get Under His Wings!

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Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. (Ruth 1:16,17)

These words that you’ve likely heard read at several weddings were actually spoken by a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. Both found themselves at new low points of life in widowhood. Both were searching for some security and purpose. Both had unanswered questions and unfilled potential. Is anything like that going on in your life? 
Naomi had decided to go back to Bethlehem. The famine had subsided. Her family was there.  Although she figured she was too old to remarry (vs.12), she still longed to go back to the place where people knew her (vs.19). She was looking for a comfort zone.
Ruth, though, was a different story. Her own mother lived in Moab. Her childhood acquaintances were there. Her husband’s grave was there. Moab was her comfort zone.
And yet, we see in Ruth a fierce loyalty to Naomi. What is it in the dynamics of this relationship that prompted Ruth to promise to partner through this life with her mother-in-law?
First, we have to credit Naomi as we read between the lines of Ruth chapter one.  She had the hearts of two foreign daughters-in-law whose husbands were no longer in the picture. That is no easy feat!  Problems with in-laws always makes the top five in any expert’s list of common marriage problems.  It’s easy for moms to resent the girls who “dethrone them” in the hearts of their sons. It’s easy for wives to resent the positive comments that husbands make about the great dumplings Mom made (especially if the wife doesn’t even know what a dumpling is!)  or the way Mom brought Dad his slippers when he came home from work.  There are just some hidden, but very deep potential pitfalls in the relationship of in-laws, especially female in-laws! The applied teachings of Christ can navigate us to harmony in these relationships. Naomi had obviously been good and kind to and protective of Ruth and Orpah.
Secondly, it had to be the case that Ruth was devoted, not only to Naomi, but primarily to Naomi’s God, Jehovah.  She was leaving her mother’s house (vs.8), her most logical (from a human standpoint) prospects of marriage, and ultimately her sister-in-law, Orpah. I believe it was the case that Ruth was already in love with Jehovah God and His people. 
Next Sunday, one of my dear sisters in Christ is getting married to a faithful gospel preacher. Having grown up in a non-Christian home, Terri doesn’t get a lot of support from her family as she determinedly lives for Christ. She has asked me to be the matron of honor in the wedding. I tried to politely decline and suggested that she ask her own sister to attend her. I said, “Don’t you think it’s important to include your family?”
Her response was “I am including my family….You are my real, forever family.” I have to think Ruth was thinking along these lines.  We too should grow to think of our family in the Lord as our truest kinship. I often see congregations struggle through the cliquishness of little family groups within the church who are constantly planning all of their activities together to the exclusion of those who may not have any relatives in the church. Sometimes I see new Christians spending lots of time alone because their old friends don’t fit into their new Christ-like lives and, sadly, their new Christian family is unconsciously keeping them at arm’s length.  If you are blessed to have your blood family members in the congregation with you, please work to have an outward focus. Eternity is not all about your blood kin! (Or maybe it is about Calvary- blood kin!)  It’s all about your family in Christ. There will be no private banquets in heaven. We will all be around one table…the Master’s table.
We have a new brother named Phil in our congregation at West Huntsville.  Phil looks like a stereotypical homeless person. His hair is kind of long and scraggly and he has an ill-kept beard. His face is somewhat disfigured and he is tall and very lean. But Phil is not homeless; he is just all alone in his home.  Phil is a very hard worker.  His job is not glamorous, but it pays the bills. Shortly after Phil was baptized, we learned that he has no physical family. I was touched to find out that one of our couples in the congregation included him in a large family Thanksgiving gathering. This good woman who made sure this meal happened is related  to no less than 20 people in the congregation. But she has an extended view of family and it’s a view we all should adopt.
Ruth, like Terri and Phil, had grown to understand that, in Jehovah, there was a family that, although still largely unknown to her, was the eternal family. She was willing to take big risks to be a part of that family. Boaz later described the amazing metamorphosis in Ruth’s life. He credited her decisions to her trust in the Lord.
It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust (Ruth 2:11,12).
May we all get under His wings and trust!
(Largely from Women of Troubled Times, Cindy Colley, Publishing Designs, Huntsville, AL)
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