Ever After (Part Three)
(Click here to listen to the sixth Ruth teaching)
Verse of the Week
“SO LET US KNOW, LET US PRESS ON TO KNOW THE LORD…” Hosea 6v1 NASB
More words from the Father
2 Peter 1v1-8
From my heart
“Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him!” Hosea 6v3 (NLT)
Just a few days ago I watched as my daughter, her brown eyes sparkling with joy, brightly echoed her wedding vows to the man who now held her heart in his hands.
“…in joy and in sorrow,
in sickness and in health,
‘til death do us part…
I so promise.”
My own eyes, brimming with unshed tears, locked on to my husband as he administered those vows to our daughter and her soon-to-be husband. Suddenly, it seemed, the decades rolled back and it was this man who stood before me, his bride. That day, he towered above me in his cream colored tux, while I stood on my tippy toes in anticipation of all that I dreamed of.
But did I really know him?
I knew a lot about him. He was tall, lanky, with brilliant blue eyes and wavy hair that mussed out of shape with the slightest breeze. And he had the largest hands I’d ever seen. I loved those hands and I still do; the way his hand swallows mine in a warm grip of assurance. I also knew he was cool. A drummer who could sing, he wore desert boots and aviator shades and drove a souped up 1970 LeMans.
I knew a lot about his personality, of course. I knew he was moody and intense, a man of strong convictions and quick intelligence. I knew he was always in a hurry, rushing at a sometimes frantic pace, embracing every opportunity to do more. I thought I knew he’d be a good dad; after all, he seemed to love to play with children. Of one thing I was certain - I wanted this man. I longed for him, longed to know him, to keep him as my own.
The Bible speaks of a woman “knowing” her husband in an intimate relationship with the same verbiage it uses to describe our knowing God intimately. To know God is to uncover who He is, what He wants, how He loves, what tickles His fancy, what angers Him, what brings tears to His eyes.
When Hosea cried, “Let us press on to know the Lord,” he wasn’t urging us to gather more information about God, so much as to mold our minds and design our lives so as to step into His world and know His heart. Down through the centuries, his words echo as a resounding exhortation to intentionally determine to know God.
In a woman’s world full of diapers and dishes, deadlines and dual incomes, how can we add something so weighty as knowing God to the mix? Can’t that wait until the kids are grown, the bills are paid, and all these messy relationships are untangled?
Someday, we say, we’ll focus on spiritual things. For now, just attempting to read my Bible a few days a week and go to church a few times a month feels heroic.
Yet now is when we need this knowing of Him. Now, when the relationships are tricky, while the kids are underfoot, and bills hover over our heads. Like compound interest, every little bit you and I tuck away of Him yields an accumulated weight of wisdom which we need for living life.
And it’s not so hard, really. Learning to know God is not so different from learning to know the man you love. In fact, unclouded by selfishness and sin, knowing God may be a whole lot easier. Here are a few ways I’ve found to help me be intentional about pressing on to know Him.
1. Spend time reading, studying, listening to His words in Scripture. Layer upon layer, delving ever deeper to uncover treasures of His heart.
2. Ask questions, lots and lots of questions, while listening to His Word. “What does this mean?” “Why did this happen?” “What does He want from me?” “When?” “How?”
3. Memorize key words of His so they stay with you throughout the daily-ness of life, resounding in your ears until they become part of you and change the way you think.
4. Talk to Him. Bring Him your troubles, both large and small, knowing He genuinely cares about what you care about and He wants you to tell Him.
5. Delight in Him. Become wrapped up in Him; noticing His beauty, His creativity, His kindness, and the wisdom of His ways.
6. Open your heart to His family. Learn to value His people, to like them - even to love them. Being with other members of the Father’s family will teach you much about His heart. You’ll see glimpses of God reflected in His people. You’ll hear stories of how He’s dealt with their difficulties, and you’ll get more and more of an idea of the way He is.
When it comes to a relationship with God, disinterest leads to a slow and certain death. Deliberately focusing your notice on Him, pressing on to know Him, takes effort, intentionality, and determination. And every minute is worth it.
Some day you and I are going to stand at another wedding. We, the bride, will look into the face of our Bridegroom, Jesus, and we’ll cling to His hands and promise to love Him forever and ever.
So for now, my dear sister, let us press on to know the Lord!
From my heart,
The Wedding Ceremony in Ancient Israel
Wedding ceremonies in ancient Israel involved two distinctive, yet interwoven, aspects. First of all, of course, was the grand celebration which marked so many aspects of Jewish life. These were a people who had been encouraged by their God to come together often for intentional times of thanksgiving and feasting.
They knew how to party!
For seven days, the couple’s friends and relatives were entertained by the family of the groom. Wine flowed freely while food groaned on the tables. Guests were expected to wear their finest clothing for the dancing and feasting. In the Song of Solomon, we see a picture of a royal wedding with the bride being carried to the event in a sedan chair. She wore embroidered garments and beautiful jewelry. A veil covered her face. The groom, wearing an elaborate headdress, brought his bride to a wedding chamber to consummate the marriage.
There was another, more business-like side to the wedding ceremony in Old Testament times as well. This was a serious contractual agreement between families. The father of the bride was paid a “bride price” in order to compensate for the loss of his daughter. That money was kept in the family and reverted to the wife if her husband died.
Simple vows, stating the commitment of the husband to provide for his wife and to protect her, were symbolically sealed by the man covering his bride with the corner of his garment. The marriage was expected to produce heirs, especially male heirs, in order to carry on the family lineage.
Ruth and Boaz’s wedding seemed to forgo much of the formality of traditional Jewish ceremonies. Friends and family simply gathered around the couple in joyous celebration, giving them the gift of wise words and happy predictions of a blessed future. The legal contracts were sealed as witnesses looked on and the couple were whisked away to begin their life together…
...and to live happily ever after!