Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Call Me Anything You Like, but Don't Call Me Unloved

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.  I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
(Ruth 1:20,21)

Are you serious?  Mara?  Who does that?  Who goes around changing their name because they’ve hit a rough patch?  Who wants to be identified as bitter -- defined by events that you can’t control; defined by circumstances rather than character?  Just a little melodramatic, don’t you think?

Perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh, after all, the woman lost her husband and her sons, but these sons were married – really no longer “hers.”  So what of Ruth and the other daugher-in-law?  How should they have felt?  Young, in love, looking forward to years of happiness, lots of children -- GAME OVER!  But Ruth sticks around and listens to that?  And did Naomi appreciate it?  “The Lord has turned against me”  I can just imagine Ruth (well, if I was Ruth, anyway) – “Well, thanks a lot!  I can hear you, you know?  I mean, it’s not like I lost my husband, or anything!"  But maybe not...

Christine's grandfather died only a month or so after her dad and I had separated.  My mother-in-law was devestated on both accounts; I wanted to do whatever I could to help.  I helped her pay her bills, fill out reems of paperwork for assistance and low-cost medicines, did her grocery shopping and took her to her appointments; I saw her several times a week.  If God rewards me based on how many times I heard "Why?" or "I just can't believe this," I will be more bedazzled than Liberace! 

I don't mean to brag, except in Jesus.  He gave me the love I had for my in-laws, even when others might think them unloveable.  He gave me the strength and the desire to "put up with that" even when others might cut and run.  He put the love in my heart and He gave me the oppurtunity to serve my mother-in-law as a vessel of Himself, to show her, through me, what His love looks like.  And True Love defies earthly explanation.  Just look at what Ruth did for a bitter, self-absorbed yente like Mara.  Just look at what Jesus did for us.  

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