“Then Naomi kissed them and they wept aloud…and Ruth embraced Naomi and held on to her.”
Ruth 1: 9, 14
“The Invisible Lines of Love”
“Love is the hardest lesson in Christianity; but for that reason it should be our most care to learn it.”
How would I define the word “love?”
Has the idea of love lost some meaning as I have lived my life?
“The expression ‘free love’ is a contradiction in terms. If it’s free, it’s not love; if it’s love, it’s not free.”
“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved.”
“I love you truly!” “You are my beloved!” “Love the one you’re with.” “What’s love got to do with it?”
All these phrases were penned by authors of songs that are supposed to give us a glimpse into the emotional element we call, “love.” From the promise to love someone “truly” to the opposite end of the spectrum where we question whether love has anything to do with a relationship at all, I believe we can all agree, love appears to be one of those emotions that everybody’s got an opinion about.
In our modern society, where love is talked about so much yet put into practice so little, having someone say they love you has become so common the words often ring hollow. Especially if you’re on the receiving end of the hurtful side of love.
This morning, I was interviewed on Moody Radio in Chicago about my book, When A Woman Meets Jesus. About half-way through the program, the host, Mark Elfstrand, opened the phone lines asking women to call in. In the short time we had, five of God’s daughters called. Three of these girls had suffered the pain of divorce and one had been physically abused. As I listened to the pain expressed in the voices of these beautiful daughters of the King of the Universe, I wondered to myself, “What does the word love mean to each of these dear girls right now when all they can see are promises broken and lives shattered apart?”
First, we found that in order to build a strong relationship in her family, Naomi accepted her daughters-in-law, girls who others may have said were unacceptable. Instead, she embraced her sons’ Moabite wives. But Naomi also served as a witness to these girls by remaining loyal to her Father in heaven, through thick and thin – even when her own life fell apart. And as we learned, the loyalty Naomi’s daughters-in-law showed her was built from the material they found in Naomi’s life. Her loyalty fostered loyalty in others.
Today, I want to look at what Naomi’s love meant to Ruth and Orpah and what this kind of love means in your life and mine. The best way I know to explain the depth and beauty of the love that passed from Naomi’s heart to the hearts of Ruth and Orpah is to share with you an experience described by Helen Keller, who could neither see nor hear. These are Helen’s words:
“I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word ‘love’…Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into my hand, ‘I love Helen.’
‘What is love,’ I asked… ‘Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out,’ she replied.
‘You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything.’ The beautiful truth burst upon my mind – I felt that there were invisible lines stretched between my spirit and the spirit of others.”
Naomi didn’t tell Ruth and Orpah what love was. She didn’t talk about love. She acted like love. She was love. She created an invisible line between her heart and the hearts of the precious girls who lived within her walls.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Naomi showed Ruth and Orpah that love is “God operating in the human heart.”
I am uplifted by this beautiful description penned by Thomas à Kempis for it perfectly describes how Naomi showered the love of God upon those around her: “Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility…for it thinks all things possible.” I call this type of love – “Naomi love.” And I pray this is the love I will share just as she did.
“O God, the well of love and Father of all, make us so to love that we know not but to love every person as Jesus Christ.”
14th Century Prayer
“Lord, I know
that one of the best ways I can show
my love for you
is by loving other people.
Sometimes this is easy –when I’m with people I like—
please help me when loving is hard,
when people are unkind,
when they don’t understand,
when I just don’t like them.
Teach me to love as you loved
when you were walking about in Palestine—
teach me to love as you love now—
Brother Kenneth and Sister Geraldine
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.whenawomanmeets jesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
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