The Commitment of Ruth

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Ruth 1:11-17

Mother’s Day is the third most celebrated holiday in the world. Only Christmas and Easter are more popular. This big day started in the heart of Anna M. Jarvis, one of 12 children and one of only four who lived to adulthood. After her mother’s death in 1905, Miss Jarvis dedicated the rest of her life to carrying out her mother’s wishes for a special day to honor all mothers. Anna Jarvis made speeches, wrote thousands of letters, traveled countless miles, and spent a fortune on the Mother’s Day idea. On May 10, 1908 she organized the first Mother’s Day celebration at the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. The service ran from 8AM until noon and included the fourfold purpose of Mother’s Day:
1) To honor our mothers
2) To bring families together
3) To make us better children
4) To brighten the lives of good mothers

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday in May, (the Sunday closest to Miss Jarvis’ mother’s death) should be celebrated as Mother’s Day. I finally found a Mother’s Day card that expressed my feelings for my mother in real terms. It said, “Now that we have a mature, adult relationship, there’s something I’d like to tell you. You’re still the first person I think of when I fall down and go boom!”

A girl’s parents were appalled by her new boyfriend. The young man was dirty and had tattoos; various body parts were pierced. The mother took the daughter aside and whispered, “We’re concerned about your date, dear, he doesn’t seem very nice.” The daughter replied, “If he wasn’t nice, would he be doing 5,000 hours of community service?”

A man came home to find the house in shambles. The beds weren’t made, the sink was full of dishes, clean clothes covered the couch and dirty clothes lined the bathroom floor. Toys were scattered throughout the entire house and no dinner was waiting on the table. In amazement, he asked his wife, “What happened?” She simply replied, “Nothing. You’re always wondering what I do all day so take a look. Today I didn’t do it!”

A house is a house is a house — until love comes through the door, that is.
And love intuitively goes around sprinkling that special brand of angel dust that transforms a house into a very special home for very special people: your family. Money, of course, can build a charming house, but only love can furnish it with a feeling of home. Duty can pack an adequate sack lunch, but love may decide to tuck a little love note inside. Money can provide a television set, but love controls it and cares enough to say “No” and take the guff that comes with it. Obligation sends the children to bed on time, but love tucks the covers in around their necks and passes out kisses and hugs (even to teen-agers!). Obligation can cook a meal, but love embellishes the table with a potted ivy trailing around slender candles. Duty writes many letters, but love tucks a joke or a picture or a fresh stick of gum inside. Compulsion keeps a sparkling house, but love and prayer stand a better chance of producing a happy family. Duty gets offended quickly if it isn’t appreciated, but love learns to laugh a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it. Obligation can pour a glass of milk, but quite often love will add a little chocolate.

John Wesley wrote, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.” Train up a child in the way he should go…and go there yourself once in a while. Here are some numbers that cannot be ignored. If your parents worshipped with you regularly while you were growing up, you have an 80% chance of worshipping regularly as an adult. If only your mother worshipped regularly with you, your chances of regular worship as an adult are only 30%. If only your dad worshipped regularly with you, there’s a 70% chance that you will worship God on a regular basis as an adult. Regular family worship is a priority that cannot be compromised.

Percentage of households in 1995 with children that are headed by one parent: 30.8. The pollsters at Gallup learned that 51% of the 13 to 17 year olds they surveyed in 1993 do not have an adult role model they want to be like. The other 49% were more likely to cite their parents rather than sports stars or entertainers as the adult role model(s) they hope to emulate. The void of heroes can and should be filled by parents.

Ruth was a Moabitess, first the wife of Mahlon and then of Boaz, and an ancestress of David and of Christ. After the death of her two sons, Naomi resolved to return to her own country and kindred, and Ruth determined to accompany her, notwithstanding her mother-in-law’s entreaty that she should follow her sister-in-law and return to her own people. Ruth answered her in beautiful and earnest words: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. In Bethlehem Ruth went out to gather information for the purpose of procuring support for herself and her mother-in-law, and in doing so came by chance upon Boaz, a relative of Naomi. We think it odd how Ruth gets Boaz as a husband. Boaz to act as her redeemer (chap. 3) appears, according to our customs, to be objectionable from a moral point of view; judged, however, by the customs of that time it was not. Boaz, who was an honorable man, praised Ruth for having taken refuge with him instead of looking for a husband among younger men and took no offense at the manner in which she had approached him and proposed to become his wife.

Not until I became a parent did I understand how much my mother had sacrificed for me; Not until I became a parent did I feel how hurt my mother was when I disobeyed; Not until I became a parent did I know how proud my mother was when I achieved; Not until I became a parent did I realize how much my mother loved me.

If someone were asked to sum up your life in three words, what would they say: “She dressed well”? “He worked hard”? or maybe “He loved life”? Those things aren’t bad, but the Bible speaks of one man whose life could be summed up in three amazing words, “He pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). That was the banner statement of Enoch’s life. “Once upon a time there was a guy, who walked with God every day. And one day he kept walking and walking. He went very far from his home. Finally it got to be so dark that God said, ‘You’re already so far from home and it’s so dark, why turn back? Just come home with me.’ And he’s been with God ever since.”

The secret to pleasing God is to keep in step with Him; to walk in harmony with Him as Enoch did. It comes down to being committed to God. We live God. We breath God. Somehow, we become better parents! Even with all the odds against us, we are better parents.

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