LOVE STORIES

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Sometimes I wonder if youth growing up in today’s world get their ideas of love from the romantic feelings displayed in movie scenes. For example, lots of fairy tales have love themes that begin “Once upon a time” and end with “they lived happily ever after.” These stories leave us with a good feeling that love is the answer to life’s broken dreams and troubles. Troubles do occur in everyone’s life, and I, along with many others, believe love really is the answer for happy endings. However, is what we see in movies true love? If a relationship fails that we thought was based on love, and ends in hurt and separation, I ask myself, Was it truly love those people experienced? The Bible says, “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Naturally, we know love means more than physical attraction and romance, but that level of love is what many do not see.

There is a beautiful love story in the Bible, the book of Ruth, and it gives clues to a deeper meaning of love. It is love like this that results in a “happily ever after” story.

There is a beautiful love story in the Bible, the book of Ruth, and it gives clues to a deeper meaning of love. It is love like this that results in a “happily ever after” story. Ruth 1:1 begins, “Once upon a time”, actually it says, “Now it came about, in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land.” The land was the land of Israel. The days of the judges were awful days. These were days when everyone did what was right in their own eyes and there was no governing leadership in Israel to represent God and lead the people in God’s ways. God’s people continually worshipped false gods and followed sinful pathways. Their corrupt lifestyles opened the door for enemy nations to raid and terrorize the Jewish people. They cried to God for help, but after helping them, they always went back to their Godless ways.

There is something about God’s love lived out through people who know him that attracts others to want that kind of love. Those drawn to that love eventually discover God’s love and learn to love the same way.

Not everyone, however, rebelled against God. Some loved him and remained faithful to the ways he said were good for them. Naomi was one of those persons. Due to the famine, she followed her husband to another country. While there, her husband died, and her two sons married women from families that worshipped false gods. Naomi may have believed it was wrong or dangerous for her sons to marry women who would influence them toward false gods, but she loved, accepted them, and lived her faith before them. When her two sons died, and she heard the famine was over, she decided to return to her hometown of Bethlehem. She told her daughters-in-law that they should return to their families because she would be poor and have no security to offer them. Apparently, Ruth, being drawn to the love and to the God of Naomi, insisted on coming with her. Ruth said, “Where you go I will go, your lodging will by my lodging, your people will be my people and your God will be My God.” There is something about God’s love lived out through people who know him that attracts others to want that kind of love. Those drawn to that love eventually discover God’s love and learn to love the same way.

In Bethlehem, Ruth found a way to support Naomi and their new life. Farmers allowed the poor to work in their fields, picking up grain left after the harvest. One day Naomi asked where Ruth was working and she answered that she worked in the fields of a man named Boaz. Naomi said that he was a close relative and she should keep working his fields. According to Jewish custom, this man could redeem the property of Naomi’s husband and son, including taking Ruth as a wife. The purpose of the marriage would be to have a son who would preserve the family name and heritage of Naomi’s husband and son. Naomi saw this as an opportunity to provide a secure life for Ruth. Love seeks what is best for others.

Boaz heard from reports that Ruth was a woman of Godly qualities. He liked that she lived morally as the Lord God of Israel would have her do. He liked how she did not chase around after men, but was faithful to provide for Naomi’s well-being because of the love and respect she had for her mother-in-law. Boaz took a liking to Ruth and protected her from dangers such as being attacked and abused in the fields. He was kind to her in many ways. Boaz realized Ruth was a woman of excellence. Ruth wondered why he could be so loving and gracious to one who was a foreigner. One day, Naomi told Ruth how to ask Boaz to redeem Naomi’s family. He had grown to love Ruth and wanted to be their redeemer, but there was one problem. A relative closer to Naomi had the right of redemption. Boaz would have to see if that man wanted to buy Naomi’s property and marry Ruth. If so, Ruth would have to marry a man she never met in order to supply Naomi with needed money for a better life, and to raise a child for Naomi’s deceased son. Boaz was an honest man to go to another, when he may have wanted Ruth for himself. Ruth’s love was willing to do what it took to meet her mother-in-law’s needs and desires. Love demands great sacrifice, which Boaz and Ruth were willing to make. In the end, it works out for Boaz to marry Ruth and they live happily ever after.

There is one more love story involved. We are not aware of it until a postscript is added at the end of their story. Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse, and Jesse had a son named David. Ruth was the great grandmother of King David of Israel, but more than that, she and Boaz were part of the lineage that would lead to the heir of the throne of David. This one would be the permanent king of Israel, and ruler of the entire world. Ruth becomes part of God’s love story to redeem the world through his son, Christ Jesus. It was this Messiah, born in Bethlehem to the descendants of Boaz and Ruth, who loved the world, and sacrificed his life, so that all people would have opportunity to become a part of God’s love story and live happily ever after.

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.