Survivor: The Love Edition – Life In The Mara

    What are the most complex challenges regarding relationships?

Survivor_Love_Edition_400Men and women are no longer dependable, if you go somewhere e.g. abroad to study or even to the hospital and stay too long, people move on.

Both men and women don’t want to commit in the name of keeping all our options open.

Snipers, both men and women, are constantly on the prowl looking for casual sex .

Relationships are more like transactions . It is about what am I getting and if I am not getting it then I am out. Let me get sex, money …. Let me get what I can.

Both men and women have compromised their sexual standards in relationships; If you are not willing to give it I can get it somewhere else.

Both men and women have been so wounded in the arena of relationships that they carry artillery and armor on both sides.

The movies and its ideals about how people should relate: People want to live in a fantasy world….Cinderella/Snow White. People want to live that fantasy.

Sex and the baggage by pornography. We are living in a liberal world and anything goes.

Regardless of what you rated as the most complex problem, the fact is that the current state of relationships is an extremely chaotic space and we enter this space jaded…. Many people are disillusioned about relationships for a number of reasons including those we have just discussed.

Now this month we are going to be looking at some truths about relationships from the book of Ruth. And I want to encourage you to read the entire book as we go through the month. Specifically this week would you read through Ruth chapter one. Now before we even get into the book, one of the reasons for the fact that relationships are chaotic is that we are living on our own terms. This book is set in the time of the judges, and the last chapter of the book of Judges has an interesting little verse that describes the spirit of the age at that time. Judges 21:25 says this: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. In that time everyone did what was right in their own eyes. And in these times we are living life on our own terms.

And as a result relationships are chaotic and no longer a safe space. All around us we see people in the world around us living out relationships on their own terms. Some of the circumstances that have come about as a result of our living out relationships on our own terms include:

  1. single moms and dead beat dads: men father children and they walk away without taking responsibility for their own flesh and blood;
  2. Others of us are married and bitter. We hooked up with someone and they are living life on their own terms without any reference to God’s standards for relationships and it is proving to be a hellish experience for both of you.
  • Many other people don’t even bother with going through the motions of getting married. People move in together thinking they will get married. Children come along and you continue to act as if you are married but experiencing a whole host of challenges.
  1. For others abortion was the best way out of a bad situation.
  2. This is also the age of broken engagements. Many guys feel there are no honorable women out there.
  3. Among the younger generation , very few people have parents whose relationships they can look up to. So people are looking for a guy who I can have kids with and then I am done.
  • A good number of people who are married it is not a first marriage. Many of the families around us are blended families.

This is why we have titled this series Survivor: the Love Edition. Many of us feel like we are in survivor in our relationships. Will you get out of this or will your torch be snuffed out? The people on the inside are all looking in and those on the outside are all looking in. I almost makes me think of that saying….

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

So how do we position ourselves to relate well? As I said, this month I will be sharing some perspectives from the book of Ruth which has some wonderful role models. Turn to the book of Ruth 1:1-7

Elimelech and his family are pictured as average Israelites, negotiating their way through the everyday affairs of life. This family had been forced by famine to leave their home temporarily in order to make a living elsewhere (as others had done from time to time, Ge 12:102Ki 8:1). This relocation continued for a full decade, during which the father died and the two sons married local Moabite women. Through a series of unexplained tragedies, the two sons also died. Bereaved of husband and children and past her childbearing years (1:11), Naomi found herself in the most extreme and desperate circumstances possible for an Israelite woman. Think about it for a moment; in the space of ten years this woman experienced many difficult transitions:

  • They moved.
  • Her husband died.
  • Her two sons died.

This woman was in a catastrophic situation.

All around us with regard to relationships we see people who feel the Lord’s hand has gone out against them. Many feel that the Almighty God has made their lives bitter and that with regard to relationships they have come up empty. We can identify with Naomi’s feeling that the Lord has condemned us and sent us trouble. Just this week my husband and I were thinking about a friend whose husband left her, and then she lost her job and got thrown out of the house her employer was providing and for some time she didn’t even have anywhere to stay.

Because of the space in which many people are living relationally, we have difficulty connecting with God’s faithfulness. You can tell me that God is at work all day, but I don’t see it. I see my neighbors moving forward… Oh that chick got married. it is for other guys, but not for me.

What are some of the emotions that someone in a wilderness. Naomi was in such a broken desperate situation relationally. For many of us we are in the same situation as Naomi. Maybe your situation is different but just like Naomi you feel there is no one here.

Here are some of the situations we find ourselves in:

Many of us are single and we have been lonely for so long. Maybe you have been waiting on God for so long. Valentines is coming up and you hate the thought of facing another Valentine’s Day alone.

Failure: Or maybe you have tried and failed before. Perhaps you are a serial dater. You have been in and out of relationships so many times that even you no longer feel confident that things could work out.

Marital failure: Maybe you tried a relationship or a marriage and the thing fell apart. Or perhaps you are in a marriage where you keep hoping against that someone will change. Or finally there are others who are married and you are not even hoping anymore that the person will change.

Bereavement: Or maybe you are widowed and you would want to get into a relationship but where do you find suitors?

The turning point in this story is that Naomi came to the place where she realized that she was at her wits end. Verse six tells us that:

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. 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.

Naomi came to terms with her circumstances. In a sense she took stock of the situation and she realized that there was nothing more for her in Moab. In addition she has heard that God has visited his people in Judah by providing food for them. She basically made up her mind to return home. She got ready to leave Moab. They started out to go back to Judah and after the classic and well known exchange with her daughters in law, Naomi and Ruth continued on their journey.

My one point in this message is this: MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO RETURN HOME. There are many of us who are in dire straits but we have not stopped to take stock of how we are living. For whatever reason, we have not even began to acknowledge the fact that we can turn around and go . Many of us are resigned but we don’t want to admit to our dire circumstances.

There are many people living without hope in regard to relationships. Like Naomi we are in the most extreme and desperate circumstances and to compound the situation the feeling has crept up on us that the hand of God has gone out against us and God has made our lives bitter and empty.

But rather than making up our minds to return home, because we feel that God is not present, we start being that single mom; or we compound the situation by getting the guy whether or not he is a Christian, because God is not as present. In our perspective we are feel that since God has left me anyway, let me so let me sort myself out.

And of course it is also hard to make an about turn because other things are so loud. We can hear the voices of others telling us to do all sorts of things but we cannot always see God. So we end up going with the voices we can hear. Or the things we are experiencing are so complex that we live by the maxim: Nikung’anga’na. It’s tough for everyone.

With Naomi, what made her get herself together? She did not just make the decision to return home from nowhere. 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.

THE CHARACTER OF GOD IS THAT HE COMES TO THE AID OF HIS PEOPLE AND HE PROVIDES FOR THEM. It is you who has to move. Naomi was desperate for God’s intervention. She took her bitter self to where God was. It is you who MUST relocate and go to where God is. Come to the realization that we have hit rock bottom. Accept the circumstances are dire. MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO RETURN HOME

If you are wondering how returning home looks like, here are some application points:

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY: Many of us have ended up in situations because we intended to do the right thing, we were moving towards what we thought was a solution and then relationship issues cropped up. Allow me to say this: The fact that we are God’s people does not mean that we are spared from the everyday challenges of life in a fallen world. Naomi finds herself in the most extreme and desperate circumstances possible for an Israelite woman. But things take a turn for the better when she makes up her mind to return home. She looks the situation squarely in the eye and acknowledges to herself that she can no longer live like this. It is your responsibility to move to where God is at work. Things may have happened to you but as long as you blame your parents, that girl or guy who ran out on you, you cannot receive the help that you need.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE: Maybe you are here and you are single and you have been serving God. You have been praying and you have gone for keshas and no guy is looking at you. Some of us singles have been serving God diligently . Maybe you are disappointed in God. And even as I am saying that you need to return home you are wondering, what do I do if I am home already? Do I continue waiting? Maybe you have been waiting on God for a very long time. You could be at home and but you are disappointed with the way that he has come through for people and not for you. Maybe for some of you the radical choice you need to make is to keep hope alive. IT MAY TAKE TIME BUT GOD CAN AND WILL COME THROUGH.

PRAYER: situations are never static when God is there. Naomi’s situation was dire but God came through. The way things are is not the way things will always be. GOD COMES TO THE AID OF HIS PEOPLE. Perhaps you are here and you are in a difficult situation relationally . I may or may not have mentioned your situation but as you are listening to me you recognize that you need prayer.

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7 Responses to “Survivor: The Love Edition – Life In The Mara”

  1. Christine Says:

    Between this sermon, and ‘Unanswered: When God says No,’ should we take the message to hold on, or accept what seems to be the inevitable? Or hold on while letting go?

    We can ‘return home,’ but that doesn’t mean that things will be any different at home.

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    • @ Christine,

      Many times it looks like when we return home things may not be different –or so it seems. The truth is that when we return to God we find ourselves at the rightful place where we are suppossed to be, and there He begins moulding our lives as he knows best. My encouragement to you is to be found in God and hold on. Sometimes it is difficult for us to let go of our plans and desires and trust him, yet God asks us to do it so that He may lead our lives into his perfect will.

      He will not dissapoint you Christine. Am praying with you.

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  2. Loved this sermon, and am glad that as a church you share the sermons am grateful, i read them when am down. Am loving this edition.God bless you.

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  3. erick ashihundu Says:

    very deep insight of the surbivor series.it tells me to keep on keeping on in this trrying life.the fact that i am Gods doest guarantee me immune to challanges….thanks a lot mavunites…i always look up to your blog to teach myself deeper insights when it comes to my salvation life

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    • May the Lord continue ministering to you and build you by the day. Let us be encouraged and press on. Yes we will have challenges and difficult times, but Jesus told us to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. Thank you for the encouragement, God bless you Erick.

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  4. Returning home for me reminds me of the words in the song “Just as I am “:
    I come broken to be mended,
    I come wounded to be healed,
    I come desperate to be rescued,
    I come empty to be filled.

    I come guilty to be pardoned,
    By the blood of Christ the lamb,
    And am welcomed with open arms,
    Praise God, just as I am.

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    • Amen, couldn’t be said any better! Thanks for sharing this, very profound. Just as we are let us approach his throne of grace with confidence that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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