Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

True Friends

Ruth 1:16

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.

profileAs a pastor’s son – I grew up in several different places. My dad had long stays at most of his churches – long by the standard of his day when most pastors moved every 4-6 years (sooner if the church and pastor were not a good match). Growing up we stayed 9 years at one church – 5 years at the next and 11 years at another. During the years I lived at home I knew 3 church families and 6 different schools before going off to college and beyond. Finding true friends – lasting friends was not easy.

I still know folks from 1st grade but I don’t have any real friendships with them. I do know some folks from my first church as a child – and know some of them very well and feel close to some of them – but that might have been heightened by the 24 years I served as pastor of that church 18 years after my father left (dad followed my grandfather serving that church – after my grandfather’s death). You might say it is a family church for the McDonald family (some family members are still there).

My children graduated from High School with some of the same children they went to kindergarten with and for a pastor’s family – that is amazing. I will always cherish that the denomination left me there for 24 years and allowed my family such a blessing (and for the church putting up with me for so long). I will always feel close to that church family.

With all of the moving we did as a child and the moving my wife and I have done – I can count on one hand the number of true friends I have that would go to war with me at the drop of a hat (just a figure of speech folks).

Finding someone as loyal as Ruth was to Naomi is not easy yet everyone’s desire I believe. Let’s read today’s passage in partial context. Ruth 1:6–18 – 6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. 8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!” 14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. 15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

Do you have anyone in your life as loyal as Ruth? I have a few – like I said earlier – my wife being number one in my life. She recently reminded me – something like what Ruth said to Naomi – she said we were in this life together – for the good and the bad – the ups and the downs – to the very end. She had told me that before but it still sounded good to hear after nearly 34 years of marriage.

Life would be so different if I felt alone I think. Even if we didn’t have someone like Ruth or a supportive spouse – we are not alone if we have Jesus (you just knew I was headed there – didn’t you!). Jesus wants to be there with us – through the thick and the thin – through the good and the bad – to the very end of life (Matthew 28:20 – And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age). Jesus/God promised He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 – because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”).  Jesus is a true friend – His love for us has no limits (John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.)

This week we are reminded of how true a friend is Jesus. We will be reminded that His love was so great for us that He sacrificed His life for ours – paying for our sins with His death on the Cross of Calvary. If you don’t have this friend – please simply reach out to Him – He would love to be your True Friend as well!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

April 14, 2014 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , ,

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