If you are staying at home on Sunday morning because your church is temporarily closed down or you don’t attend a church at all, here is a great sermon for your listening pleasure. I say, “listening” because it is not a visual video, as many that I put on my blogs, but simply a recording.
This message is given by Thomas Whartenby, who was brought up as a Roman Catholic… has been the minister of Galax Presbyterian Church for forty plus years and is a Vietnam veteran. His wife, Mary Elizabeth, is the church organist and choir director. Their ministry is in a small community situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, USA.
I was privileged to include him in my book, Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge.
Why is it important to hear Dr. Whartenby’s message?
As a people and a nation, we are extremely self-centered. Yes, there are many caring people among us, but as a culture there is much to be improved. I can only speak for our country, but I would guess that it might be the “new normal” for most of the world. Of course, included in this, is the added pressure of isolating and how to take care of OURSELVES when there is such a need to reach out to others. We are warned nationally and locally about “distancing,” which only makes self-centeredness more prevalent. It is hard to know when to think of SELF as far as health is concerned and believe that we are doing it for others. The problem is that the “others” don’t know that our standoffish actions are for them.
As we look at history, much of “what’s in it for me” has come about with the industrial revolution, increase in technology, ability to hear and see through the media an emphasis on having more and more. Life has become a rush to acquire, get ahead, and forget about what is really important. Patience is a long-lost virtue.
We want things and service NOW...no waiting! Almost everything we do is “How does it effect ME?” In some cases, it is how can I get something for nothing? Our young people and children, unfortunately, are modeling these behaviors and attitudes.
The Holy Scripture has something to say about this problem. Dr. Whartenby, “Tom”, gives a fresh understanding of why we want self-gratification. He puts in modern terms thoughts that make sense to all of us.
It will be worth your time of 30 minutes to listen. I am including this link for those who believe that we all need a new look at what this title means….IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT US.
What does it take to love someone so much that one will leave one’s own country and family to follow that person to a people unknown even if it means being homeless and not certain when one will eat the next meal?
We have an example of this in a love story that makes one think that there may have a purpose in some twist in the road that we know not of. We, in the modern world, may even learn a few things from their experience.
I’d like to introduce you to two people.They will be familiar to some…and perhaps not know to other readers. This saga started when the men of the family died, leaving two women, Ruth and Naomi, alone and destitute. Today it would be like a family having no money in the bank; no one to pay the mortgage and not even food stamps would make things the way they used to be. I’m certain at this moment someone is thinking, “I know that feeling for I’ve been there. I even had children that I had to support. “
It may have been a different time in history and these women may not look like you or dress like you, but suffering is the same regardless. The feeling of hopelessness,however, did not mean that there was not faith. Faith was one thing that was abundant in their lives. It is the stepping out on that faith that is the hard part. It is somewhat like wandering in the dark, but believing that there is a Hand that guides.
Decisions had to be made. These two women had a special relationship. Naomi accepted the fact that Ruth had a loyalty and love for her that began when Ruth married her son. They lived in a culture that expected the men of a relative to stand in the gap for the women in their lives. There was no such thing as “women’s lib”. If a brother died, often another brother would take her to be his wife. It was a matter of keeping the family together and the name to continue. The women were dependent upon this custom, which may have led Naomi to take Ruth and return to her own homeland. No one had told Naomi that they would care for her. Ruth also knew that her decision was a difficult one to go with Naomi, but because of her love she was willing to make this choice. Being a foreigner, Ruth could be subjected to all types of prejudice. In essence, she and her mother in law were homeless.
(The lesson…we often have to make decisions even when we do not know what those decisions will lead us into.)
Being a wise women, Naomi, told Ruth to go to the local fields and glean what she could so that they could take the grain and have something to eat. It was a custom when the field owner was harvesting to leave a certain amount of grain standing for the poor. Today we would call it a giving of a 10% or helping out our local food bank for those who need help feeding the family. Naomi did not ask her to stand on the road side with a sign about being homeless and needing help. She only ask her to work and warned her to stay close to other women and to be careful of those who might have bad intentions to her. This she did.
(The lesson: We can pray and hope, but sometimes we have to simply get out there and work…maybe not the work we want…but do what is necessary at the time. )
Because Naomi had come back to the land where she grew up, some of the people knew her and the word soon was out that Naomi was back with her daughter in law. This was news to a distant relative, Boaz, who owned the land where Ruth went to glean. He was curious about the young woman. He instructed his workers to leave her the best portions.
(Lesson: Sometimes God opens a door and makes events happen using people to bless us in a greater way than we expect.)
Even though it is not mentioned, it appears that Ruth and Boaz may have gotten to know one another in the field, for Boaz actually took the matter to a council to see if some man would want her for a wife. Courting and love relations, as we know it today, were not the usual route toward marriages. They were arranged as families united often for economic purposes. None of the men were in favor of the offer, so Boaz, Naomi’s relative, now has his own decision to make.
Ruth goes to Boaz and lays at the end of his bed. Nothing more is told about the relationship, but Boaz decides that Ruth will be his own wife.
The story does not end there for Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of the future great King David. Naomi also became the baby’s nanny.
So often the readers of the Holy Scriptures are turned off by the long line of genealogies, but they are actually important. I must admit that I have skipped many of them. This one was especially important because Jesus became part of this lineage. (See complete lineage)
(Lesson: As we put our lives in God’s hand, we do not know what wondrous things He is working out.)
One must remember that God is not a respecter of persons. His eye even knows when a sparrow falls. If you are in the middle of a troubling situation, do not give up. There is much life to live and many bends around the corner of which you are now not aware. As you reach out to Him, God will be in control.
“All very interesting, but that was a different country; different race and different religion than I am. How can this story apply to my life?”
We are all God’s creation and He even knows when the sparrow falls from the trees…as the deep voice of Sam Gary sings for us in HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW.