Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Unexpected Place Of Refuge

All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!
Ruth 2:11-12
Where do we go when we look to find shelter? When we want to be safe? When we want to be secure? We usually go to a place we know, a place we are familiar with.

When Ruth decided to leave her hometown of Moab in order to go back to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi after Naomi's husband and two sons had both died, she was leaving everything that she had ever known. She was leaving everything that she had ever been familiar with. She left what she knew--father and mother and native land--to come to what she did not know--a people in Bethlehem.

This is how the Scriptures, spoken by Boaz, describe what Ruth has done in going from Moab to Bethlehem. But there is another description the Scriptures give of what Ruth has done in going from Moab to Bethlehem: she went to take refuge under the wings of the God of Israel.

One action, traveling from Moab to Bethlehem, is described in two ways. Ruth leaves the known for the unknown. Ruth goes to take refuge under the wings of the God of Israel.

And the conclusion I arrive at is this: refuge is found in unexpected places. If Ruth had held on to what she knew, she wouldn't have found her refuge under the wings of the God of Israel.

Faith is a funny thing. It calls for obedience. And it does so in such a way that when we walk this path of obedience we really don't know how things will turn out. But could faith be any other way? If we know how things are going to turn out, then faith wouldn't really be faith, would it?
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1
And yet the path of obedience is the only place of sure refuge because this is where we know for certain that God will reward us. We just don't know what form that reward will take in this life. We only know that ultimately the reward is God Himself.

We are people who find our security in knowing. When we know, we feel like we can manage. We feel like we have control. And we enjoy that. But let us not confuse what it is to know with what it is to be certain. Even when we know that things are what they are, we can never be certain that they will stay that way. But we can be certain that when we seek God in obedience, He will reward us because He says so (Hebrews 11:6).

When we trust God, though our visible reward is unknown it is never uncertain. When we trust ourselves, though our visible reward is known it is never certain.

So let us go against the impulse within us to find comfort in what we know and instead seek refuge in the God who knows all as we walk the path of obedience wherever it may lead. It feels risky. It feels dangerous. It even at times feels foolish. But, in the end, it is the only place of certain refuge.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8

1 comment:

jenchilee said...

Thanks for this, Chris. It DOES encourage me :)