Choosing Relationships Wisely
MONDAYS WITH KERRI
Often while working with ministry teams to plan weekend retreats, the worship leaders will request a window of time for the attendees to speak into each other’s lives and pray for one another. It is wonderful to create space for this to happen, but I am usually quick to make a suggestion. I propose that we first have the women focus on any sin, wounds, heartaches and pain in their own lives that need to be brought before the Throne. So, the first two sessions focus on what the Holy Spirit is saying to them and the freedom they are being called into, personally. Then we open it up for them to pray for one another in the last two sessions. In this way they have a spiritually “clean house” so they are ready to reach out to other women in wholeness. Each woman is free to minister through the power of the Holy Spirit, instead of operating in her flesh. In community we learn to cover each other and to receive covering from the Body of Christ as well.
I love the story of Ruth because it demonstrates another very authentic way to accept spiritual covering and live in the freedom of true community. Ruth’s story is scandalous; it is a story of abandonment, rejection and redemption. It is also the perfect picture of the covering available to each of us. Through her life, many of us can make sense of our own. She first leaves her people and her gods to support the mother of her dead husband. Like Mary Magdalene, she decided that it was best to be with The One she loved, even if there was nothing in it for her. She was more concerned about covering Naomi than she was about her final destination. She then heads out to work in order to provide food for Naomi. She risks physical harm, venturing out as a Moabite woman in the region of Judah where the Moabites were hated. Finally, she takes the advice of her very wounded and bitter mother-in-law and dresses up to “offer” herself to Boaz. I am amazed that she was humble enough to receive counsel from Naomi. After all, she is The One that had been caring for her emotionally and physically while she was in mourning and consumed with grief. She could have disregarded Naomi’s advice because of her bitter state; instead, she chose to receive her counsel.
Then, she literally asks Boaz to cover her that night on the threshing floor. Ruth was a woman that knew how to give and receive protection in the context of community. She chose to get emotionally naked and risk both her pride and her reputation in order to receive what she knew she was created for.
Ruth understood what we must accept - as women we must be covered. It is significant that Boaz already knew her story and what his place was in it. He knew that there was another man, a closer relative that had the right to claim her. He had done his homework, he was ready to cover her, and he was not coerced. Even more significant than the risks Ruth took is the outcome they had. The story of Ruth has the power to overturn something many of us believe: rejection is a vile weapon of the enemy. It is accepted as a pain we must all endure at some point in our lives. At best we hope to manage or control it in some way so we can live as normal, functional members of society. However, this is not the case in Ruth’s story; in fact quite the opposite is true.
Ruth is rejected by the man who “should” have covered her. I believe it is important to notice that we are not even given the name of the man that chose not to cover and protect Ruth. This serves as an important reminder that we too have a choice as to how much power we will give to those that have rejected and hurt us. When Boaz inquires as to whether or not this man was willing to purchase the field, his paraphrased response was, “Well, now that I know that I would have to marry Ruth to claim the land, I am not interested. Marrying her could jeopardize my estate and take away part of the inheritance I want for my own children. If I commit to her I risk losing part of myself. She is not worth it to me, take her for yourself.” The “would be” redeemer is not willing to have his life interfered with, so he rejects Ruth as his wife. This rejection, however, becomes the greatest gift of Ruth’s life. She was only covered by her Boaz because she was rejected by another man. Boaz, whose name means strength, became the redeemer of her story. Her life of mourning, suffering, and rejection was not forgotten but the pain of those years no longer controlled her. She found her identity in her new status–a woman that was rescued, chosen, and covered. Ruth was not redeemed out of a life of ease. Her path was a painful one marked by loss and unanswered questions. Her redemption and inheritance was not found by walking an easy road. But, as she relinquished control of her life, she was found and covered by The One who created her. He used both Naomi and Boaz to reveal His protection and provision in her life.
As we consider giving and receiving in community as Ruth did, it is also important to recognize what true and false covering look like. Now make healthier choices by applying these action steps:
Who tends to take more than they give?
Who puts you down, is critical, or makes fun of you?
Who walks away when things get too challenging or difficult?
Who often lies to avoid conflict or accountability?
These are all signs of someone seeking to love in their flesh. In Matthew 7:21we are warned to not open ourselves up to everyone that claims to speak truth. "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven.” As we know, obedience is only possible when we are operating in the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead within us. Therefore, anyone who is seeking to cover us in their flesh is as susceptible to deception as Eve was in the Garden. Any relationship not established in The One who created us will be full of fear. When we are separated from the source of love, we try to “give” in our own strength. Fear disguised as love leads to co-dependent relationships, making them a weapon of the enemy. True love is only possible through the Father of lights (James 1:17). It is selfless, freeing, celebratory, and completely honest. Counterfeit love is offered through the father of lies (John 8:44). It is self-serving, manipulative, controlling, and deceptive. Now make healthier choices through working through these action steps:
Allow friends into your life that produce and cultivate a mutual giving and receiving relationship.
Choose friends who accept and celebrate you just as you are while challenging you to be all you were created to be.
Choose friends who tell you the truth fearlessly, consistently and lovingly.
To read more on this topic order Kerri's book