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Real Love

I have had a bunch of people ask me questions about what women should look for in a future boyfriend or spouse. Which I find quite comical since I am single, however, I have been doing a lot of praying and reading a lot in the book of Ruth, and I have a few answers for you guys. First of all, every girl dreams of their wedding day, and of finding Mr. Right. We all want that movie romance that we see on every screen. A romance like the movie The Proposal, or The Longest Ride, all the Nicholas Sparks books….But the book of Ruth in the bible is a real love story that I want to share. It is a love story that directly points out things you should look for in a future relationship and points out what real love looks like.

I am not going to type the entire book of Ruth for you, but I will give a summary and encourage you to go read it. It is a very short book of the bible so if you have time, I highly recommend it, it is one of my favorites. Ruth, a Moabite woman, married into a family that followed the one true God. Shortly after her marriage her husband died, along with her father in law and brother in law. In this time and culture, when this was to happen, the daughters in law would return home in hopes they could find another husband. Naomi, Ruth’s mother in law, tells Ruth and her sister in law to go back to their home land and try and find new lives with new husbands. Ruth’s sister in law, after arguing for a hot minute ends up leaving Naomi and going home. Ruth however, chooses to stay with Naomi despite the fact that she could get very little from her life with Naomi. Not only that, but she chooses to leave her homeland, her family, her gods, and everything familiar to follow Naomi and remain loyal to her. In chapter two verse 16 after Naomi keeps urging Ruth to leave the bible says, “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.'”

This brings me to my first point in the story. Real love stays. Ruth demonstrates amazing love by staying with her mother in law after her husband’s death. She had to make a choice between her old life and the gods of her people or her husband’s family and their God. Ruth must have seen something different in her mother in law and in following her began to serve the one true God. But not only that, she showed such a deep love for Ruth by sticking with her through thick and thin. Real love will never leave you. Real love never fails to stick around. When looking for someone to give your life to you need to keep in mind that real love stays. Real love is someone that will not flee if you were to get sick and need help getting around. Real love is someone that will not leave you because your appearance changes. Real love is someone that will be with you in times of laughter, times of grief, times of plenty, and times of little. Member Ruth, and how she stayed, even though she had little to receive from Naomi, she loved her enough to stay. Ruth commits to Naomi and taking care of her for the rest of her life. This loyalty that Ruth demonstrates toward Naomi is the perfect demonstration of the type of covenant love that God shoes his people.

Now back to the story. Naomi and Ruth make their way back to Bethlehem, where Naomi is from. In Bethlehem, Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man that was in good standing, in other words he had good money and good land, whose name was Boaz. Now Ruth decided one day to go out into the fields and pick up the leftover grain. Of course, she ends up working in the field that is owned by Boaz. As soon as Boaz lays eyes on Ruth his interest is peaked. He says “Who does that young woman belong to?” When he discovers that she is the woman that is taking care of Naomi he tells her that she should use his field whenever she needs and that she can use his water whenever she needs and that his men will protect her. Boaz recognized what Ruth had sacrificed to stay with Naomi and found favor in her. In Chapter two verse twelve Boaz says, “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” It then later says that Boaz cannot stop showing his kindness and helping Ruth and Naomi.

This brings me to point number two. Real love serves. It puts the needs of others before itself. Boaz allows Ruth to use his field, use his water, and even use some of his men. He ends up lavishing food on her and giving her and Naomi anything they could possibly need to live comfortably, and he does all of this before Ruth does anything for him. He does it without expecting anything in return. In doing this Boaz shows great faith and integrity and demonstrates such a selflessness. He serves her as a source of protection for her as well. When looking for someone to date ask yourself if they are someone with a servant heart. Someone who puts the needs of others before themselves. Someone who will be a servant lover to you, a servant to your children, a servant to the home, their church, to the Lord. Serving is like a muscle and if they are not flexing it right now, then it will not be a strong component of your marriage or relationship.

Again, back to the story. After Ruth has had this encounter in the field with Boaz, she goes back to be with Naomi. As she tells Naomi about this man and all his kinds Naomi starts to wonder about him. When Ruth tells her his name Naomi realizes that Boaz is a relative, and at this time he was a potential family redeemer. In this time a “guardian – redeemer” was someone who acts as a protector of family rights and can provide and heir for a deceased relative. In other words, Ruth still had a chance to get married and provide grandchildren if Boaz were to take her hand in marriage. So naturally, Naomi goes into full on matchmaker mode. She begins to make plans to make this relationship happen. Ruth goes back every single day to the field in hopes of catching his attention. Then one day Naomi comes up with a plan and tells Ruth to get herself cleaned up and put on her nices clothes and perfume and tells her to go over to Boaz’s house. Naomi tells Ruth to go and pull the covers off of Boaz’s feet and lay there at his feet, and when he awakes Naomi tells her to basically propose. Her going under his feet like this was like a sign of submission. Boaz wakes up in the middle of the night wondering who is under his feet and Ruth responds that she is his servant Ruth, and basically she proposes to Boaz. She says man if you like then go ahead and put a ring on because I am ready for you to be my Bo, my Boaz. But then he realizes there is a closer family relative that is in line to get married before him. So he goes to him and tells him about Ruth and basically tries to talk her down and then asks if he wants to marry Ruth. He basically says no and that he is not interested and Boaz is super excited and head home and the get married. Then after they get married they have a son, and Naomi has a grandson. And all worked out well for them and the Lord blessed them.

Another component of real love for us. Real love sacrifices. Boaz sacrificed money, time, his inheritance, his future, at significance cost to him. He gave up his field, he said that he would take care of both Ruth and Naomi for the rest of their life, and he had to decide that he was going to have half Jewish babies. She was a foreign woman, and he sacrificed his inheritance and his land and gave it to children that were not fully Jewish, which was a huge deal back in this time. He chose to sacrifice those things because real love always sacrifices for one another. Just as Christ gave up his life for you, you and whomever you have a relationship should be willing to sacrifice things for you. It means that they will die to the things they want to do. Real love will sacrifice going on a vacation to the rocky mountains to take your other half to the vacation they want. Real love will sacrifice going to their yoga class to take the kids to soccer practice so that you can get things done. Real love does not exist without sacrifice because without sacrifice the love is selfish. You put things aside for the sake of the relationship, for the sake of expressing real love. Relationships will not last without sacrifice. You cannot have a Godly relationship if you always choose yourself.

To recap the three things I have said so far. Real love stays. Real love serves. Real love sacrifices. I cannot take full credit for this blog because I was inspired by a podcast that I heard on the way to work, however, these three components all add up to one massive component that you need to look for when looking for a future spouse. Boaz’s love for Ruth is a picture perfect image of the way that God loves the Church. He takes notice of her, redeems her, lavishes grace upon her and places her within the community of faith as her guardian-redeemer. You need to look for someone that loves like Jesus loves. Someone that centers their life on the Lord. Not only this, but in order to find someone that embodies all of these components you need to embody these as well. You need to stay, be constant, be willing to make a covenant. You need to serve others and put others needs before your own. You need to sacrifice the things you want and the things of this world for others and for the Lord. And most importantly, you need to center your life on the Lord and love like Jesus loves before you begin the search for someone. The Lord knows the desires of your heart, and if you simply place your life solely in his hands, he will deliver those desires to you.

First Corinthians chapter 13 is known as the love chapter. To end this blog I am going to list what it says love is.

1 Corithians 13:4-8

” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love Never Fails.

A close friend of mine once said that when you can place your name every time it says love in these verses, then you are ready to open up your heart to another. This is Real Love, the love of Jesus. Now I have a little humor to add to this blog since it was long winded and a little bit heavier then most. It is a picture at the bottom that I saved immediately after I saw it. The thing I hope all of you to remember is that you should never have to settle. If you don’t feel like the person you are with stays, serves, sacrifices, and demonstrates love and compassion like Jesus then move on. Wait for your Boaz, because I promise he is out there somewhere.

Beauty Behind The Waiting

Have you ever ordered something online and been so excited to get your package that waiting for it is almost torturous? For me, I am not a patient person, and waiting for something that I really want is absolutely horrible. However, once the package finally gets to my house, I realize the waiting was worth it because now I have what I have been wanting. The same concept is true in life, just on a much deeper level. Waiting on answers from God can be like waiting for rain in a drought. Whatever stage of life you are in, you could be waiting on different things. For example, a high school graduate could be waiting on God to tell them what they need to do with their life. Or a college graduate could be waiting for God to tell them which job offer to accept. Or if you are like me, and you have been single for over a year, you could be waiting for God to bring that special someone in to your life, and trust me regardless of the situation, waiting is hard.

I actually decided on this blog post after a church service I went to this week when the pastor preached this very message. He used Psalm 40 as his main passage, but I am going to use all of the passages he mentioned.

Psalm 40:1-5

  • I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you, were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

I know that was a lot, but bear with me. David shows a remarkable example of obedience through troubled and difficult times. These struggles he faced caused him to be solely dependent on the Lord, Yet, through the struggle and pain David always made sure to show God that he had delight in doing God’s will over his own. So did Christ in the new testament. In this season of waiting, it is essential for you to depend on God, and trust that he has a plan and a time for everything. My mom has always been very adamant on making sure that I was raised confidently that I didn’t need to be dependent on a man/boyfriend and his view of me. Now, I don’t agree with the “I am a strong independent woman and I dont need a man”, because my mother has always instilled in me that I do not nee to become a strong, independent woman, but a strong, dependent on God woman. That is something I feel like a lot of people forget. In season’s of waiting, all you can do is wait, so take advantage of the waiting period.

The waiting period is an opportunity for you to grow in your faith and in your relationship with God. In the verse you just saw, verse four says “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord”. I know waiting is hard, but you have to fully depend on God and trust that he knows what is best, The pastor I heard this lesson from said that God’s timing is sovereign, not fast. He will answer when he wants to answer, and deliver when he is ready to deliver, and you have to be patient and trust in Him. And you have to be willing to accept every answer that he gives you, because I guarantee you will not always like the answer he gives after waiting for so long.

Lamentations 3:25

  • The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

Isaiah 40:31

  • Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. they will walk and not faint.

Waiting can take a lot out of you and cause you to be exhausted, but that is not how it should be. Waiting is a time to lean on the Lord, to trust in his plan, and let him take the wheel. Sit in the passenger seat, enjoy the ride, and grow in faith. Waiting develops your trust in the Lord, develops your faith and can deliver wondrous blessings, if you take advantage of the waiting period. For a while after my last relationship ended I felt stuck. I knew that I had done what God had asked of me and felt that nothing had come out of it. Well, that is because I did what God asked and then stopped being connected to God. I went on with my life. I wasn’t taking advantage of the wait. In order to do that you have to keep you relationship with the Lord. You need to read the word, the living word of the Lord, and put it to use. Pray more, listen to worship music, whatever helps you develop a stronger relationship to God, do it. You are probably in a season of waiting because God knows you are not quite ready for what he has for you. I know for me personally, I am taking advantage of this waiting period and drawing closer to God and praying for my future husband, because I am not ready for being a wife, so it is good to be in this waiting stage. God is preparing me and my heart for who he has planned in the future, and I will be ready in God’s time.

In this season of waiting, depend solely on the Lord. He longs for that relationship with you. Trust in the Lord and be patient. Take advantage of the waiting season because there is most likely a reason for it. The is beauty behind the wait.

Dear Lord,

Please allow me to trust in you and your plan and timing. Help me to be solely dependent on you, and take advantage of this season of life that I am in and use it to grow in my faith and relationship with you.

Amen

Proverbs 3:5-6

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

Fear

Fear is something that a lot of people struggle with. I know for me personally, I let fear control my life at times, and honestly let it keep me from doing things that I regret not trying. Fear can take control and leave us feeling hopeless. To give you an example of how I let fear run my life, I am going to tell you a story. I was a gymnast. Being a gymnast, you have to be fearless. You are throwing your body through the air, which it is not made to do, and trusting yourself to land every skill. Well, I was not fearless. For a while I was and I did very well in improving my skills. Then I fell, and I fell hard. One day while attempting to throw my body in the air, I stopped, mid flip, and my body fell to the hard ground. I landed on my face, and although I was not hurt, I was terrified that it would happen again. From then on out I hesitated every skill. And in gymnastics, hesitating is exceptionally dangerous. More dangerous than stopping mid flip. I became terrified to throw any skills and eventually quit.

Years later I got back into tumbling classes to make varsity cheer, and I was doing good again. I was fearless. I made varsity cheer and was training with a colligate cheer team to possibly become a college cheerleader at my university. Then guess what happened…I fell…again. Now, I should have learned by now that falling is just a part of gymnastics, just like it is a part of life. And once you fall, you get back up, dust it off, and try again. But I was not like that. I let fear control my life. And I stopped tumbling again, and lost the change to be a cheerleader for my university. Now, while I have found peace with not being able to cheer in college, I still hit myself at times for letting the reason I didn’t cheer be fear. 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse seven says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.” So of course I was mad at myself for letting fear control my decisions, I AM NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE AFRAID! I let Satan win.

The thing that we need to know about fear is that God has already conquered fear. He has already overcome what we are so afraid of. The way we can defeat fear, is by trusting that God has already won the battle, and we need not worry. A good story in the bible that represents how God wins over fear every single time is David and Goliath. I know this might seem like a crazy story to put with fear because the main characters are neither one fearful. But bear with me, I have a point. You see in this story the Israelites, God’s chosen people, are at war with the Philistines. On the front lines, in order to intimidate the Israelites, the Philistines put forth their best soldier Goliath. Goliath was a huge giant of a man. In first Samuel it is said that he was a champion that stood at nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet, and wore a coat of bronze amor that weighed close to 80 pounds and his spear was heavy, with the head alone weighing over 15 pounds. This man was HUGE. Just his size was scary enough, and then he goes and challenges the Israelites and basically tells them to send their best soldier forward, and whoever looses will become the subjects of the winning side. This made every Israelite shake in their boots. They all trembled with fear. Did you see that? FEAR. Every single Israelite was afraid, and not a single one of the would come out and face the giant. They hid in their tents instead. Even the King hid away, and refused to even be on the front lines. Now the King sent David to see his brother on the front lines, and when David arrived he was amazed at how no one would stand up to this giant. David was a wee little man, just a young boy that had barely grown into his feet. You see David realized that this battle was not a human battle, but God’s battle. And seeing as the Israelites were God’s chosen people, David knew that they would win. So he offered to fight. He says in 1 Samuel 17:32 “Let know one lose heart, on account of this Philistine, Your servant will go and fight him.”

Upon hearing this, Saul said that David could not go. To the naked eye, it was clear who would win the fight, and for all those watching the odds were not in David’s favor. However, David argued and Saul caved and let him go up against the giant. In order to protect him, Saul placed his armor over David. David was not used to the armor, and refused to wear it because he could not move freely. So now we have this little dude, with no armor going up against a giant with a 15 pound spearhead. To top that off, David chooses his weapon…and it is a sling and a stone. He is really making us wanna root for him huh?

When David was on the front lines across from Goliath, he was taunted. Goliath would not stop shouting insults at how small and pathetic the Israelite’s champion was. But David says “you come against me with sword and spear, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” And with that he slang his stone and and the stone sank into the forehead of Goliath, causing him to fall face down, almost as if he was bowing down to the Lord. Kind of ironic isn’t it? Then David cuts off his head and shows the Israelites that the battle is won. David had no fear, because he knew God was on his side, and with God for us, nothing can stand against us.

So here is a question for you: The next time Satan throws fear your way, are you going to be like the Israelites cowering in the tent and let the giant win? Or are going to be like David, fearless, knowing that the battle is already one, you just need to trust in God? Personally, I believe life is better when you live without fear. Not to say I dont still become afraid or anxious at times, but when this happens I rebuke fear in the name of Jesus, and let it go. Fear does not control you. Fear is not within you. Fear will not win. Repeat this again. FEAR WILL NOT WIN. The next time you are afraid remember David. Don’t let your giant win. Instead, trust in the Lord and watch your giant fall.

Here is a prayer for you:

Dear Lord,

I pray that you take all my anxious thoughts and cast them out. Do not let me be afraid of something you have already overcome. Help me to remember that you did not give me a spirit of fear, and that if you are for me than what can stand against me. Free me of the bondage that is fear. Allow me to live, knowing that I have nothing to worry about. In Jesus name,

Amen

Isaiah 41:10
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
For more reading on fear, my favorite is Psalm 46

Running

Running from Jesus, when I should have fallen into his arms.

Have you ever heard of Roger Bannister? Roger Bannister was the first male to successfully run a sub four minute mile. For those of you who are unaware of what this means, it means that he ran a mile in less than four minutes. His exact time was three minutes and fifty nine seconds. Up until this point no one had ever accomplished this task, and therefore believed it impossible. However, right after Roger Bannister ran the sub four minute mile, people began achieving this goal like crazy. It was like the spread of a wildfire. All they needed was for one person to do it, and bam, they figured they could do it too. In high school, I was a runner. Not a very good one might I add, but I enjoyed running. I did cross country and track and ran for fun (I know that sounds awful, but bear with me). Although I was horrible at running physically, I was an expert at running spiritually. I set every record in running away from God and letting my problems fester.

When I was a junior in high school I got this boyfriend. I was super excited because he was the star running back of my school and I was a varsity cheerleader so naturally, I thought we were going to be a power couple. The issue was, we did not believe in the same things. We had two separate ideas of who Jesus was. Now for a while, it wasn’t a problem. He was a great guy and he treated me very well. My dad liked him, my mom liked him, and my little brother adored him. which only made it that much easier to fall in love with him. Knowing that eventually we would have to end our relationship, I let myself fall head over heels for this boy.

About eight months after we started dating we got into a few arguments regarding religion. I was stubborn, and so was he. Neither one of us was going to budge on what we believed. So we fought and then would kiss and make up. No big deal right? Wrong. After about a year I knew God was telling me that I had had my fun and it was time for me to move on and grow in my faith. Of course, being the expert runner that I was, I took off. I wanted nothing to do with God. I wanted him to change my boyfriend’s mind on his beliefs so that we could believe the same things and all would be right in my world. But that didn’t happen and I was so angry. I figured God can do anything so why didn’t he change him? Why didn’t he fix the problem? So I ran.

After many months of being exhausted from running, I finally sat down and prayed. I cried and let all of my emotion take over. And I mean it was an ugly cry. God allowed me to realize that maybe I was just a part of his life to plant a seed. Sometimes you plant the seed, but don’t necessarily get to see it grow. And although it was hard, I finally was able to accept that it was time to be done. After this I knew it was time to end my relationship. So I did. And it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Of course what didn’t make it any easier was the fact that when I broke his heart he said “I hope that one day you find someone that can give you the world because you deserve the world.” And I walked away. Yet, for months I still felt empty. I had let this boy take over the hole in my heart that is reserved for Jesus and when he left, instead of turning to Jesus I busied myself in everyday life. Or went back to the boy for comforting words. I chased a friendship that wasn’t healthy. I was still running.

Finally, after months of running I collapsed into the arms of Jesus. And let me tell you, it is the best decision I have ever made. The bible has many stories about people that run away from God only to realize that he is there every step of the way. Take for example, the prodigal son. For those of you that do not know this story I will summarize it. Basically the father of two sons has inheritance money for each son for when he dies. The youngest son, rebellious as ever, asks his dad for his full inheritance so that he can go into the world and live it up. As sad as it makes him, the father gives it to him anyway. The son goes out into the world and parties, and feasts, and parties some more. Until he basically has nothing left. By the time he has spent all of his money, he ends up getting a job feeding pigs. He is so hungry that he eats the slop that he is supposed to feed his pigs. He finally comes to the realization that even his father’s servants live better than this so he leaves and makes the trek home. While on his way back the father sees him and comes running at him with open arms. The son is in awe. He apologizes and to his dismay the father tells the servants to prepare a feast and bring the son his best robe and throws a party. The father says words that pierce my heart every time. He says , “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is now found.” (Luke 15:23-24 NIV)

You see, even when we run so far away to where we believe we can never be forgiven, the Lord is waiting, watching, for us to get home. And the minute we turn around, he will not stop for a second to meet us halfway. We are not running alone. He is there, always, Waiting for us to return home. It took me forever to realize this and I exhausted myself running away from the one thing that could bring me rest. You see psalm 32 says “when I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long…Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” While we run, and while we wait our bones waste away. They cannot handle the pound against the pavement day in and day out. All you have to do is stop and allow Jesus to give you rest.

No matter how badly you have sinned, or how far away you have run, it is never to late to stop running and fall into the arms of Jesus. Let him carry you when you are too tired to even walk.

A prayer for you:

Lord, please carry the burdens I have held on to for so long. Please give me rest and comfort and peace in the fact that you are there, that you have always been waiting for me to come home. Lord I am ready to come home. Take my heart and make it new, so that I may know that your grace is sufficient for me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Many blessings to you all! Hope this is fuel for your week!

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Isaiah 43:2-3 (paraphrased)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…For I am the Lord your God.