by Mike Ratliff
15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. Ruth 1:15-18 (NASB)
God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are higher than ours. Those who have moved on into God’s stride have learned to view their circumstances in light of who God is. On the other hand, all of us have made the huge mistake of viewing God in light of our circumstances. This is 180 degrees in the wrong direction. When we view God in light of our circumstances we are self-focused and see God as either impotent to help us or aloof and not caring that we suffer. However, when we become focused on God and His glory we step away from the realm of intellectual reasoning into that of faith. It is as we draw near unto God that He draws near unto us. If we surrender to His will in our lives fully believing that His will is always right then we have turned around and are viewing our circumstances in light of who God is. For us to reach this level of spiritual maturity requires for God to work in our hearts. It is not something that we can do ourselves, it is a gift from God.
In the book of Ruth we read in chapter 1 of a family that moved from Bethlehem to Moab to escape a famine. The husband’s name was Elimelech. His wife was Naomi. They had two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. While in Moab, the two sons took Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. They lived in Moab for about ten years. Elimelech died and then Mahlon and Chilion died. This left three women without a male to support them in a culture that was deadly for women in this state. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem because she heard that God had taken the famine away. As she left, both of her daughters-in-law wanted to go with her. However, Naomi, bitter in spirit, gave them the truth of the matter. Her situation was hopeless. She had no future. She intended to go back home and survive off of the kindness of family, but she could see no reason for the two young women to go with her.
Orpah agrees. Even though she loves Naomi she returns home. However, Ruth, given the same evidence of hopelessness makes the opposite decision. Why? We read that she was going back with Naomi, but not why. The decision was not made within intellectual reasoning. It was the opposite one a young woman should have made based on the evidence. However, she makes it clear she is returning with Naomi to be with her even unto death. This is a heart changed by God. This is God working in her heart to direct her paths according to His will. She was getting into God’s stride.
GETTING INTO GOD’S STRIDE
by Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest
“Enoch walked with God.” Genesis 5:24
The test of a man’s religious life and character is not what he does in the exceptional moments of life, but what he does in the ordinary times, when there is nothing tremendous or exciting going on. The worth of a man is revealed in his attitude to ordinary things when he is not before the footlights (cf. John 1:36). It is a painful business to get through into the stride of God, it means getting your second wind spiritually. In learning to walk with God there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride; but when we have got into it, the only characteristic that manifests itself is the life of God. The individual man is lost sight of in his personal union with God, and the stride and the power of God alone are manifested.
It is difficult to get into stride with God, because when we start walking with Him we find He has outstripped us before we have taken three steps. He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined into His ways. It was said of Jesus – “He shall not fail nor be discouraged,” because He never worked from His own individual standpoint but always from the standpoint of His Father, and we have to learn to do the same. Spiritual truth is learned by atmosphere, not by intellectual reasoning. God’s Spirit alters the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and things begin to be possible which never were possible before. Getting into the stride of God means nothing less than union with Himself. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don’t give in because the pain is bad just now, get on with it, and before long you will find you have a new vision and a new purpose.
When we do get into God’s stride it will not always be fun and games. It may, in fact, lead to conflicts and even persecution. However, it is guaranteed that those who get there will be forever changed and find that the vast majority of professing Christians are not even in the same race. Those in stride with God are in the race set before them by Him. They can only stay in that race by fixing their gaze on the Son. If they become distracted they will stumble and fall out of the race. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Therefore, we must seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness then get back into stride with God as He leads. We cannot do it by will power or by intellectual reasoning. This is the realm of faith.
Soli Deo Gloria!