Pursuing Love

Published on Apr 15th, 2015 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0
Pursuing Love

Pursuing Love

Did you ever want to change your name? As I kid I was always coming up with some kind of cool name that would describe who I was at the time. I remember Tornado Man! Very cool super power unless you jump off a three foot rock, spin in the air, and sprain your ankle. Then your brother and sister give you another name…Doink. As an adult, I haven’t had too much of a desire to change my name. In the book of Ruth, Naomi decides that she has had enough and she tells people to call her Mara. Mara means bitter. Naomi’s family had made some poor decisions that involved not trusting the Lord to provide. They left Bethlehem for Moab in order to try and find some food. While living there her husband died, her sons married foreign women, and then both her sons died also. Now Naomi was stuck in a country away from her family and is a widow with no sons to support her. She decided to go back to Bethlehem and live out her remaining years in a bitter pity party. God, though, had other plans.

I would encourage you to take the time to read through the book of Ruth. Ruth was one of Naomi’s daughters in law who made a commitment to stand by Naomi. Although Naomi tried, she could not convince Ruth to leave her. Ruth’s love and loyalty to Naomi results in better decisions, a prince charming for Ruth, provision for Naomi, and a bitter heart turned loving toward God. We may have a tendency to simply look at Ruth but the Bible makes it clear that this whole story is an example of God’s pursuing love of Israel.

Isn’t that something incredible to think about today? I know that taxes are due, work is a hassle, the family is not as together as you would like, and life is squeezing you again, but Paul always encourages us to “set our mind on things above”. So thinking about the incredible pursuing love of God is a worthwhile exercise today. God would just not let Naomi go. She not only tried to push Ruth away but she worked very hard at pushing God away also. She wandered from his care when her family moved from Bethlehem to Moab. She did not trust him to provide in the midst of difficult times, so she ran to the nearest one who could meet her needs. I know that I have done that at different times in my life. When God brought things into my life that I did not like I looked for others that would give me what I wanted. Why didn’t God just simply let me go? Why did he continue to pursue me? God’s pursuit of us is not always pretty to us…Naomi’s family died. It is easy to imagine that Naomi had not given God too much thought as she lived in Moab. After all, they were in survival mode. Maybe when her sons were about to take foreign wives she might have remembered the law of God but what were they to do? But now, alone, she turned to God. In anger…but she turned to God. Why didn’t God simply shout back that she got what her disobedience deserved? Why did he move Ruth’s heart to show her great love and loyalty? Why did he provide the means to go back to Bethlehem? Why did he remove the famine from Bethlehem? Why did he bless Boaz with having so much so that he could provide for Ruth and Naomi? Why did he direct Ruth to pick Boaz’s field to glean in? Why did he move Boaz’s heart to be attracted to Ruth? Why did he harden the other kinsman redeemer’s heart to not want to take on the added expense? Why? Because he is love. And as I look back upon my life I can see his pursuing love all over my life. Being raised in a godly home by godly parents. Surrounding me with friends who had committed to following him. A phone call here. A timely verse there. A godly wife. So many examples of his pursuing love. I can even see how he used the tragedies in my life to pursue me with his great love. It is incredible to not only think of his great love but that he pursues me in that love is overwhelming.

I look at Naomi and I see her bad choices, I see her hard life and maybe I can justify her anger, but her unwillingness to see Ruth’s love, her desire to remain bitter, causes me, in my human impatience to write her off. I would have a tendency to shake my head and admit that you can’t help someone who does not want help. Naomi enjoys her bitterness and does not want to do the work necessary to find joy. Until she’s ready…we have to move on. God does not see it that way. He continues to pursue Naomi. He continues to show her great love. He overwhelms her heart with his love. In the same way, God continues to pursue a relationship with me today. That is simply amazing. I am grateful for his patience with me. So, yes, the taxes are due, life can be consuming, but God’s pursuing love is something that outweighs them all and gives me a great excuse to have joy today!

Here is an old hymn that helps us think through these amazing thoughts.

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

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