|Pastor Tab Cosgrove
October 13, 2013
20th Sunday After Pentecost
Text: Ruth 1:1-19a (Concentrating more on the whole book of Ruth)
Title: The Golden Thread
This is a story that came to me via the internet, but is very applicable to the message for today. One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd. So I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys are jerks." There was glimmer of a smile that came upon his face. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. It turned out, he lived near me. We talked all the way home and he turned out to be a pretty cool kid. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. In our senior year, Kyle was valedictorian of our class and so he had to prepare a speech for graduation day. On Graduation Day I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. But, I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!" He just looked at me and smiled. He began his speech by saying, "Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends... I am here to tell all of you that the connections you make with people and the relationships that form from those connections can be a blessing beyond what you could ever know, so I want to tell you a story." I just looked at Kyle with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He then looked at me and said. "Thankfully, I was saved. A simple gesture and the connection made that day saved me from doing the unspeakable." I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. Not until then did I realize the depth of a simple act and the power of the connection I made with Kyle that day. The point of this story is never to underestimate the significance of the connections that you make with the people weaving in and out of your life. We regularly encounter people we don’t know and more times than not a simple gesture, a kind act, a friendly smile, a caring word, God can use to make a difference in someone’s life. Because the wonder of God is that His hand is in the midst of everything and His golden thread of grace, mercy and love is constantly interlacing people together causing connections to be made in unlikely places or through unlikely circumstances—all for the purpose of God’s glory and that as many people as possible be able to spend eternity with Him. You see, when it comes to God, there are no coincidences and we see that first hand in this account of Ruth.
If you haven’t read the Book of Ruth I highly encourage you to read it this week while it is fresh in your mind. Because if this isn’t a story of God’s woven grace in and through people’s lives and circumstances I don’t know what is. A reader’s digest version is that a famine strikes the land of Judah causing Naomi and her family to sojourn to Moab, where her two sons marry Moabite women. Naomi’s husband and sons die and she hears that the famine is over in Judah and decides to go back but tells her daughter-in-laws to stay, marry other men and start new families. The daughter-in-law, Ruth, however, insists on staying with Naomi and while in Bethlehem ends up marrying a relative of Naomi’s late husband, keeping not only her husband’s lineage alive which was important in those days, but also keeping the lineage of Christ intact because the son Ruth and Boaz have together turns out to be the grandfather of King David. I marvel at how all the connections just so happen to work out in this narrative—through the good occurrences and the bad! And what we can grasp from this Book of Ruth is how God really is involved in the whole of life. That His thread of love is forever weaving its way in, out and around our lives. That the encounters we have with people through our various circumstances might have a purpose beyond what we can see or understand. Just look at the Book of Ruth, all those encounters and “coincidences” needed to happen in order for Boaz and Ruth to meet, marry and continue the lineage of Christ.
God truly is in control. Honestly, I don’t understand it all. It’s hard to comprehend that the twists and turns that occur in my life are leading somewhere—are leading to a purpose or are part of a plan that God has in store for me. Because life can sometimes stink and people we come upon can be downright ugly and rude on occasion! And it’s not so difficult to be skeptical about what is happening or who we are meeting. “I don’t see the reason for that one God?” But here is the thing, what if we looked at those things that happen to us differently? What if we looked at them as encounters or occurrences that have meaning or objectives? Things that need to happen for His plan for us to be fulfilled? That there is reason behind them. In Genesis 50 Joseph tells his brothers who tried to kill him, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.” There is a plan. And if we looked at every moment, every relationship, every encounter we have as purposeful—what would change in how we live? Would we view the people we meet differently? Would we handle those disappointments and trials we face contrary to the way we do now? Something to ponder.
Because the truth is, God is in control. Everything that has happened from the time of creation until now has had God’s imprint, his thread of grace and love running through it. Jesus and what He did on the Cross was the completion of the first part of a two part plan. Everything that happened prior to Christ, pointed to Christ and was for the purpose of having Him appear at the perfect time. Gal. 4:4 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law.” His victory over sin and death was the fulfillment of the first part and His promise to return to usher in all believers to their eternal home is the second part of the whole plan; of which is in process right now and of which you and I are a part of. The goal now is to get as many people as possible to be with Him in paradise. That’s the plan. And He needs those believers who have been touched by His thread of grace to be the means by which His thread of forgiveness and love can reach others. The Book of Ruth gives us a taste of how God works His plan. Those things needed to happen to Naomi and Ruth in order for the first part of the plan to be fulfilled. When you think about it, the only difference between the second part of the plan and the first is that we’re involved. We have been forgiven and His thread of grace runs through us with the plan of that thread reaching others.
What if we were to look at our circumstances and our encounters with people as planned instead of coincidental or intrusions. What if by the strength that only Christ can give, we extend a simple gesture, a kind act, a friendly smile or a caring word to those around us. The opportunities are there because it’s part of the plan. And you never know how many Kyle’s God’s thread of grace could enter through you. In Jesus Name. Amen.