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Friday, January 2, 2015

Where You Go, I Go

This week we're taking a break from our traditional Formation Friday post and instead looking at a person from the Old Testament. -Nate

I hurt a guy once. He was one of my best friends and I pushed him out of my life because he was angry. Granted I’m summing up a deterioration of a close friendship in a sentence, but essentially I didn’t know how to handle his anger or his bitterness, so I let him go. I didn’t really ask why and I didn’t like the reasons he blamed either. He acted out in anger against me for a little bit and I cut him out. His anger brought me somewhere I didn't want to go.

 To this day it’s one of my biggest regrets.

This past weekend I spoke on the book of Ruth. Ruth is interesting story because like Jesus’ story doesn’t start with Jesus, Ruth’s story doesn’t start with Ruth. It starts with Naomi.

Naomi’s husband moves her and her two sons out into enemy territory because of a famine. Well after a series of unfortunate events, her husband and two sons die, leaving Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws to fight and fend for themselves. Her two daughter in laws names were Orpah and Ruth. 

Well they all leave to go back to Judah and Naomi feels guilty half way through the trip. She turns to them and asks them to go home. They both shake their hands and say “no way, we’re with you.” Then Naomi asks again. And Orpah leaves. And they weep.

Ruth continues on the journey and says the famous lines, “where you go, I go, where you stay, I stay.”

Naomi is bitter. Naomi is hurt. Naomi is pained.

She feels that God is against her. The three people she cared most about in the world have left her at God’s doing. And now Orpah her daughter in law leaves her.

She feels that God has taken away everything she loved.

And the sad part is:

She’s right.

Well mostly.

Except for Ruth.

            It’s extremely easy to separate ourselves from Scripture. It’s easy to brush them off as stories and not find ourselves in their pages.

            For most of us grace, empathy, pity, and love are hard. If you have it down, God bless you, but I definitely don’t. I pray for it constantly, but I still struggle with it. I'm assuming Ruth must've struggled with this as well.

            When it comes to compassion: 

The war looks different in the trenches.

            Ruth digs in the trench with Naomi. Ruth says that there is no place too far, even death, that’s too far to go for Naomi’s sake. Ruth makes Naomi the central focus of her life. And she does it for no specific reason and it’s certainly nothing that Naomi has done. It says everything about Ruth and Ruth’s value on Naomi.

            The only way we will know true love is if we dig in and say, “I’m here. No matter what.”

            This points us back to Jesus, Emmanuel. God with us.  

            Jesus says, "I'll be with you, to the ends of the earth." Even if it’s to hell; to heaven; to the streets in Calcutta; to mansions in West Palm Beach; to poverty; to wealth; to the LGBTQ community or to Arizona legislators; to sinners or to saints; to vagabonds; to wanderers; to murderers; to George Zimmerman; to Trayvon Martin; to my friend I hurt, or even to me.

            Jesus meets us where we’re at for not just the sake of our transformation, but for the world’s reshaping.

            I’ll be the first one to say it:

           Grace is confusing. Grace is messy.

           But it all comes down to this:

            There is nothing you can do to make God love you less because God’s love has nothing to do with our action, rather what He has done already.

            If you read that and think immediately of your “sinner” friend and think that I’m encouraging sinning. Really think about it. 

There is nothing you can do to make God love you less because God’s love has nothing to do with our action, rather what He has done already.
            God’s not scared away by our mess. God’s not scared away by our sin. God’s not scared away by our lack of repentance and our wandering. We don’t worship a scared God. God isn’t scared of grace. We are.   

            “Where you go, I go” is a call to die to our selves. It’s a fearless call that demands our full attention, our full lives. It requires we go all in. 

            Go all in. Love abundantly and fully wherever God may take you, not in order to earn God’s love for you, but to begin to grasp His love for you. To know His love means we must love. Love God, love your neighbor intimates that to understand God’s love we must love one another.

            May we love as He loved, love, and loves.

           God's not done with you yet.


Ben Langevin

Is a student intern, speaker, published writer and worship leader from Oviedo, FL. As a creative writing graduate from UCF (Go Knights!), he enjoys creating, discovering, and cultivating life giving environments wherever God leads him. Ben is an avid culture fanatic. His favorite things include Netflix marathons with his fiance Erika, dodgeball with students at youth group, and of course Starbucks. He works at Summit Church in Orlando. 
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