Aug. 7, 2009
“So she left the place where she was, her two daughters-in-law with her, and they started on the way back to Judah.”
Ruth 1: 7, Amplified Bible
“The Best Sermon Ever Preached”
“A good life is the best sermon.”
What is the message I’m sharing with others, especially those who are closest to me?
“People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.”
“If Christ lives in us, controlling our personalities, we will leave glorious marks on the lives we touch. Not because of our lovely characters, but because of His.”
Not long ago, I read a quote I just loved, penned by Douglas Jerrold. I have changed the gender for the daughters of God in the garden: “(She) was so benevolent, so merciful a (person) that (she) would have held an umbrella over a duck in a shower of rain.”
This type of kindness is a perfect description of my mother-in-law, Zoila Valcàrcel. She succumbed to the vicious demon – cancer – several years ago. When she was in her late thirties, she was told by her doctors that the lump in her breast was “nothing to worry about.” Unfortunately, a year later, after her doctor decided to biopsy the lump, she was given the ominous news that she had breast cancer. What made this diagnosis even more frightening to a young mother with four children to raise was the knowledge that both her grandmother and mother had died of breast cancer, as well. After having radical surgery, my dear mother-in-law asked God to give her time to raise her children – and her prayer was answered for she lived to be 83-years-old. How thankful I am I had the blessing and influence of this Godly woman in my life. And while she finally lost her battle with cancer in the end, God gave us the privilege of having the benefit of her gracious kindness infusing our lives every day she was alive – and even now, not a day goes by when I don’t think of the radiant light she left in all our hearts. Those who were fortunate enough to know her felt the touch of heaven in their lives – for this is the legacy she left.
As I read our text today in Ruth 1: 7, I thought that Naomi sounds a lot like my mother-in-law, Zoila.
I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on the information the Bible gives us in Ruth 1: 7. First of all, Naomi’s sons married girls from Moab. They didn’t marry Jewish women. These girls were considered “heathens.” In Christian circles today they might be referred to as “unbelievers.” Moabites weren’t part of “the chosen.” And when you’re not part of the clan, it can be easy to treat people with disdain or snobbery. This is not what we see happening in the case of Naomi. After discerning that the voice of God was calling her back to Bethlehem, she shared the news with her daughters-in-law, who both agreed, at first, to go to Bethlehem with her.
Just think about this decision and the impact it would have on the lives of these two girls. They were walking away from everything they found familiar. They were going to a land where the people wanted nothing to do with “Moabites,” with the “heathen.” They were leaving family and friends. They were turning their backs on culture and customs they’d lived with all their lives.
And they made this choice, not because some big name evangelist came to town and called them to repentance, but because their precious mother-in-law had lived a life of kindness in their presence. Naomi’s love drew these daughters, not only to her side, but to her God.
I love these words penned by Mother Teresa, “Spread love everywhere you go. First of all in your own house. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” This is the way Naomi treated her Moabite daughters. With love she embraced them and soon they embraced what she loved – the God of heaven and earth.
I must tell you, when I hear people who call themselves Christians tagging others with nasty labels and claiming that we’re right and you’re wrong – then turning around and living a life in direct contradiction to the words they speak – I shudder. And I wonder, “What influence does this meanness have?” Usually, none at all. Instead, this unkindness drives people away from Jesus.
Author George Adams noted, “It’s what each of us sows, and how, that gives to us character and prestige. Seeds of kindness, goodwill, and human understanding, planted in fertile soil, spring up into deathless friendships, big deeds of worth, and a memory that will not soon fade out. We are all sowers of seeds – and let us never forget it.”
Every day in Moab, Naomi planted seeds of kindness and when God called her back to Bethlehem, she found her garden was filled with blossoms of love. May we do the same, for the kindness we sow today, we can be assured will fall on fertile soil and our loving behavior will be the catalyst for a destiny we could never dream about or plan for.
Naomi didn’t journey alone, because this mother-in-law understood that kindness and love draw others while hate and fear repel.
“Let us preach You, Dear Jesus, without preaching…not by words but by our example…by the casting force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You. Amen.”
A Mother-in-law’s Psalm
“My God, You are with me always.
My life is in Your hands.
When my child left
my hearth and home and
went with one
who would claim them
You taught me how to graciously share
that birth bond
then gave me my children’s children
to comfort my empty arms.
I give thanks for Your maternal presence.
My heart overflows with joy,
for my blessings indeed
and my faith in You abides.
Yet who can know Your plan for us
or understand Your ways?
You call us,
and we answer,
no matter what the consequence
or the cost.
Blessed are you Who dares to promise
a happy ever after.
You heal our ills
and calm the fears
and fires that rage
Help us to faithfully follow You
and to serve You
every day of our lives.”
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.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit: www.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.