I am on a Ruth kick right now. It has to be one of the books of the Bible that is the most dear to me. It was the first book I read all the way through…the book I read just before I surrendered my life to the Lord…the first thing associated with God that ever touched and moved me…and it is such a sweet story…such an example of faith, godly virtues and hope…and, of course, I would feel very blessed to find favor in the eyes of a man like Boaz. Yes, it is very special to me. I especially love hearing John Piper expound on this little book. Though I have heard wonderful messages by Mark Dever and Alistair Begg as well…Piper just has a take, a perspective that is so unique and touching and rich. I listen to it and find myself letting out heavy sighs every now and then. It’s just so wonderful.
Anyway, in his set of messages on Ruth, he highlights what he gleans about the character of a godly woman from the character of Ruth. He even goes so far as to call these the 4 Traits of the Ideal Woman. They are:
Faith in God that goes beyond the circumstances
Freedom from the need for security and comforts
Courage to venture into the unknown
Radical commitment in the relationships the Lord has provided
That is a pretty tall order…and I can think of many times when I wasn’t even trying to be any of those things. At the heart of that list, I think, under girding it is a desire to honor God and to hope in Him above all things. Which reminds me of a quote from another Ruth message…this one by Mark Dever. He quotes Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, which says:
“No fear can stand up to hunger. No patience can wear it out. Disgust simply does not exist where hunger is. And as to superstitions, beliefs or what you call principles, they are less than chaff in the breeze.”
How true. What or whom we seek to honor and hope in is revealed when hunger takes over. Hunger for something…someone?...can make platitudes of our faith. In those moments we see who God really is to us and are left with a choice – repent and submit our hunger to the only one who can truly satisfy it…or let conviction blow away like chaff in the breeze and go about the business of getting what we want. I know I’ve been there...and it is no fun. I remember a time not so long ago, where I convinced myself that my stalking was God’s will. It wasn’t until I’d exhausted all possibilities, had a zillion doors slammed in my face and finally took my hands off of my ears long enough to hear Him say “Let it go” and then did…that I realized what a weight…what a destructive thing the object of my hunger had become. And how sinful the whole thing was. My motivation in seeking after it wasn’t to honor God…it was to get what I wanted. That was a moment, realizing that truth! Whew!
What I’ve seen is that when my hunger is greater than my desire to honor God, it is a good signal to stop, make sure my ears are open and wait on Him. I can also see that when my hunger is ruling me…I will not exercise the faith and hope exemplified in the 4 traits above. I will not know faithfulness or freedom or courage or commitment to anything but myself.
Lord help me to see things this clearly the next time my hunger rises up…help me to hear you over my inner rumblings and walk in obedience…not for my gain but your glory!