Aug. 15, 2009
“But Ruth clung to her.”
Ruth 1: 14
“What We Cling To”
“Open my eyes that I may see,
Incline my heart that I may desire,
Order my steps that I may follow
The way of Your commandments.”
What do I cling to in my life?
How does what I cling to affect me spiritually?
“True religious affections are distinguished from false. Affections that are truly spiritual and gracious, do arise from those influences and operations on the heart, which are spiritual, supernatural and divine.”
“Trust in my affection for you. Though I may not display it exactly in the way you like and expect it, it is not therefore less deep and sincere.”
When I was young and in college, living in a dormitory, our room was often a haven for girls to gather for fun and gossip. As you might imagine, it wasn’t uncommon for the subject of the opposite sex to come up in our conversations. Inevitably, someone would start telling about a recent date or they’d let all of us in on a secret crush they had on some good-looking guy. I’ll never forget telling our little group about someone I’d gone out with and the response was utter shock. As one of my friends observed, “I never saw him touch you. And you weren’t clinging to him. I would never have known you even liked each other.” It seemed that at a certain point in time, if there were no outward, physical evidence of affection, the assumption was quickly made that no relationship, whatsoever, existed.
I’d like to reflect for a moment on this situation because it directly relates to how we, way too often, evaluate our spiritual life and its intensity.
Of all the questions and comments I receive here in Transformation Garden, none is so frequently sent to me as the question, “How do I know that I’m really saved?” Along with this, I frequently receive this comment, “I don’t feel like I’m saved. I don’t believe God loves me.”
With further exploration and the exchanging of emails, the person writing to me usually confides that their assessment of personal spiritual depth in themselves and others is based on how they happen to feel or how others appear to act.
I go back to the outward display of affection we used in college as a way to monitor the relationship between two individuals. Those who seemed to be the closest from outward appearances, shocked us when they broke up in a fit of equal passion. While those who displayed little outward signs of closeness, shocked us when they got married.
This brings us to our text for today. We are told Ruth made a choice to stay with Naomi even though her mother-in-law told her, four times, to return home. Ruth still “clung” to Naomi.
In our modern society, the word “cling” might suggest a dependency which hinders separation and growth. Clinging is seen by some as a pathological quality in a healthy relationship.
But I’d like to offer a different perspective, one I learned as a young girl harvesting peaches at my grandparent’s ranch in the hot Arizona summers. One of the tedious tasks Grandma had my sister and me perform was to take the freshly picked peaches and dip them in hot water to help loosen the skins. Then we would peel the peaches and slice them off the pits as we readied the freshly harvested fruit for glass jars or jam. Grandma regularly referred to the peaches as “cling” peaches and finally one day, my youthful curiosity got the best of me and I asked grandma, “What is a ‘cling’ peach?”
She told me that peaches called ‘clings’ have a stone or pit in the center to which the flesh of the peach adheres very tightly, sometimes making it nearly impossible to remove the pit without damaging the fruit. The uniqueness of cling peaches is that the fleshy, juicy, meaty portion of the fruit is infused into every nook and cranny of the peach pit. The flesh is attached to the pit.
This is what I believe is reflected in the lives of Naomi and Ruth. At first, these two women may have had a friendship of convenience, for Ruth married Naomi’s son. But over time, so much more developed, until a day came where separation was impossible.
You may be wondering how cling peaches and Naomi and Ruth’s relationship relate to whether or not you “feel” like you are saved or whether your outward actions make people think you are.
Well, there’s a huge correlation between our story of Ruth clinging to Naomi and a peach clinging to a pit and you and I choosing to cling to our heavenly Father. What we choose to cling to makes all the difference in the world. It’s not how holy or unholy I happen to feel on any given day. It’s not how I wear my religion on my sleeve, trying to impress everybody. Instead, our salvation is about Who we cling to on the inside. It’s about Who we allow to infuse the flesh of our lives – body, heart and soul. In the words of John the Elder, “Grant us, Lord, to cling to You, not in our outward beings but in our hidden selves, and may we follow You until we behold Your face.”
“Naomi said to me, ‘Go, I have no more sons for you.’
But I said, ‘No, you are my mother, my family, my future.’”
“Lord of the Far Horizons”
“Lord of the far horizons,
Give us the eyes to see
Over the verge of sundown
The beauty that is to be.
Give us the skill to fashion
The task of Thy command,
Eager to follow the pattern
We may not understand.
Master of ancient wisdom
And the lore lost long ago,
Inspire our foolish reason,
With faith to seek and know.
When the skein of truth is tangled,
And the lead of sense is blind,
Foster the fire to lighten
Our illumined mind.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit:www.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.