“Where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God – not even death itself is going to come between us!”
Ruth 1: 17
The Message Bible
“A Love That Death Cannot Divide”
“Love…is…the only effective counter to death.”
Have I ever experienced a love that “even death” cannot destroy?
What has this type of love meant to me?
“We never leave each other --- when does your mouth say goodbye to your heart?”
Mary Tall Mountain
“Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?...For I am persuaded beyond a doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8: 35-39
I’ve shared with you before the fact that I love old movies. Especially musicals. It’s not only the fact that in so many of the pictures from long ago things turned out “happily ever after.” It’s also that many of the musicals contain songs which are unforgettably beautiful. Such is one of my favorite melodies, in the famed musical West Side Story, entitled, “One Hand, One Heart.” In a tragic moment, Tony sings to Maria, “Make of our hands one hand, make of our heart one heart, make of our vows one last vow; Only death will part us now.” Maria responds in a more hopeful fashion when she answers: “Make of our lives one life, Day after day, one life.” And then together the couple joins their voices in singing, “Now it begins, now we start, one hand, one heart; Even death won’t part us now.”
You might think the author of the song took the words directly from Ruth’s prayer of intercession to Naomi. “I intercede with you on my behalf. Don’t urge me to leave you. Wherever you go, I will be there by your side. We are family, now. Your family is my family and more importantly, the God you worship is my God, too.” And then, like a crescendo reaching the highest point in this prayer, Ruth tells Naomi, “Even death won’t part us now.” Her message to Naomi was one with eternal consequences as she said, “I will be with you forever, for ours is an everlasting love!”
Just imagine for a moment if you had been Naomi, an aging widow who had lost her husband and both sons. You were lost and alone -- heading back to the place you left ten years earlier. Feeling forgotten and disregarded by God, it is your Moabite daughter-in-law who reaches out her arms, embraces you and in the words of a prayer, makes her confession of a love that unites. A love that is everlasting. A love which reflects a oneness of heart and mind and soul.
One of my favorite poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, eloquently described the love Ruth expressed on this dusty road when she penned the words: “Loving For Love’s Sake.”
“If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say,
‘I love her for her smile…her look…her way
Of speaking gently,…for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’-
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee, -- and lose so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou may’st love on through love’s eternity.”
Ruth’s love, which developed over time, as she spent days being infused by Naomi’s love for her heavenly Father, ended up becoming a love that as Ruth so simply put “Even death won’t tear us apart.”
This is exactly the love our Father longs to plant, water and cultivate within each of us. An everlasting love that cannot be torn apart no matter what challenges we face everyday and throughout our lives.
As the Apostle Paul expressed to his friends in Rome, this heavenly love is not destroyed by external suffering or internal pain. It isn’t affected by the tragedies of life and certainly isn’t extinguished by death.
Don’t you want to have this kind of love in your life? A love for your heavenly Father that even death cannot tear apart!
“Because Thy Love hath sought me,
All mine is Thine and Thine is mine:
Because Thy Blood hath bought me,
I will not be mine own but Thine.
I lift my heart to Thy Heart,
Thy Heart sole resting-place for mine:
Shall Thy Heart crave for my heart,
And shall not mine crave back for Thine?
“God’s Love is a Haven”
“God’s love is like an island
in life’s ocean vast and wide
A peaceful, quiet shelter
from the restless, rising tide.
God’s love is like a fortress,
and we seek protection there
When the waves of tribulation
seem to drown us in despair.
God’s love’s a sanctuary
where our souls can find sweet rest
From the struggle and the tension
of life’s fast and futile quest.
God’s love is like a tower
rising far above the crowd,
And God’s smile is like the sunshine
breaking through a threatening cloud.
God’s love is like a beacon
burning bright with faith and prayer.
And through the changing scenes of life
we can find a haven there.
For God’s love is fashioned
after something enduring
And it is endless and unfailing
like His character above.”
Helen Steiner Rice
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