“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”-Ruth 1:16
I was sitting at work today, in my usual chair, at my usual computer, looking out at Minnehaha Creek, staring at my VBS schedule and praying that someone or something would come inspire me to actually type something and get some work done. My office right now is currently covered in boxes and is far from “organized chaos.” We are at the start of summer, the start of a new season, and for me, the start of a new job for the next few months until I start another new job and go on internship as a pastor for the year. It’s a whirlwind when I think about it, but I would not have it any other way. It’s the beginning of the end but the beginning of a brand new chapter…bittersweet? I think yes. The book of Ruth says, “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.” Today, I saw this. Everyday I see this.
I decided to walk around the church and socialize with some of my coworkers because I wasn’t getting anything done..I just couldn’t focus. As I walked down the hallway, I saw a pastor praying in the hallway with a family who was there for a funeral, I heard kids laughing and crying, seniors in high school learning about their may-term internship, and young adults being welcomed back home to church after finishing up their first year of college and thanking God for staying when they wandered. I saw busy-ness. I saw people living their every day lives. I saw brokenness, joy, stress, confusion, love, and empathy. As I was walking around I realized something incredibly important: this is it, this is life. Where you go, I will go, where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
I heard the laughter of a child, and the next minute I witnessed the deep grief one feels when they lose a loved one. I opened my arms to welcome a college student back home and felt the weight be lifted off their shoulders and the relief they felt when they realized God stayed, and so did their church. I saw wide-eyed 17 year olds learn about their first internship and talk about what they wanted to do with their lives. I heard prayers from my colleagues about their hopes and fears for their future. I saw a newborn baby be brought into the church for the first time. I saw a lot of things, but in reality, I witnessed God entering into every stage of life and every emotion
Today, I viewed something I had never envisioned in this way before: life. This is what life is. It’s about laughter, grief, joy, confusion, fear, helplessness, emptiness, brokenness, healing, and experiences. I often hear individuals call Mount Olivet their church home, but today I saw it in a different light. I saw pastors and other staff members walk with people of all ages saying, “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people. Your God not only will be my God, but is my God.” Today was one of those moments that changed my life. You know, one of those moments where the concrete cracks and you know your foundation will never be the same as it was before that crack or earth shattering moment. From holding a newborn, to hearing the laughter of a preschooler, to seeing a high schooler experience their first taste of the “real world,” to hugging a college student who had enough of that world, to sitting with my mom and drinking a beer, to seeing a family grieve the loss of someone. Jesus says, do not let your heart be troubled or be afraid. I don’t know why Jesus said this, but I think I have an idea…it might be because not only does Jesus love us in a way that we cannot and will not ever be able to comprehend, but also because Christ sent people to go with us, to walk with us, to be our people, and to help us believe in everything that has been done for us..but most importantly, to help us feel the love that we all continuously need.
Most days, I don’t know what I’m doing at work when it comes to planning programs and sending emails. Sometimes it feels like as soon as I’m comfortable, something shifts. I don’t think God intended to make our lives comfortable. God forces us to live into our call and grow, no matter what that means for us. There is one thing I do know though..God wants us to abide in him, and never let our hearts be afraid when we start new things or end old ones. “Where you go, I will go. Your people will be my people. Your God, will be my God.” When you see this verse lived out, and when you start living it out, you realize there is no better way to live. Don’t forget to thank the people who have gone where you have gone, made your people their people, and reminded you that your God is also their God. We all need those people, and we all need to be those people for an individual. Tonight, I hope you feel the love of God, in some way. Whether that be because of a loved one, a book, a song, or in a time of solitude. Tonight, I hope you know that you are a beloved Child of God, and that you will always have someone walking next to you and staying with you. Where you go, God will go. Where you stay, God will stay.