A Loving Life
By Paul E. Miller
How does God most often redirect the focus of our love? By death. I don’t think it is too great a venture to assume that you, like me, fear dying. I will do almost anything to avoid the possibility of it, for myself and everything I “love”. When I began this study (with a group of ladies), the last thing I thought I would have to do was die. I thought I already had. It certainly wasn’t something I expected to find I had to endure more than once.
My introduction to Paul Miller and “A Loving Life” came at a pivotal turning point in my life. I had wrestled with the Lord, specifically, over my role in biblical womanhood. I wanted to follow and trust the desires that I knew were from Him. But, logic wouldn’t allow my mind to find comfort in the drastic-completely against the world’s view-change that He led me to make.
The very formations of my womanhood were being questioned and ultimately rearranged. I found that what I thought I was doing for Him, was surprisingly rooted in my pride. Logic and self-preservation had to take a back seat to faith and sacrificial love. Isn’t that what he asks of us all?
As I mentioned, when I began this book/study, I expected to find validation in my recent life change. I likely hoped for confirmation and felt somewhat self-satisfied with my “obedience” to God. What I found was a need to die.
I don’t know Paul Miller personally, but I assume he also traveled a similar journey in his walk with Christ. A journey that takes the Christian from the love of self to the love of others. I believe he first had to experience the death of a life he had once expected before he could accept the life he was handed. This makes Paul relatable. It may not be a disabled child for you or me, or the death of a spouse like Naomi faced in the book of Ruth. Suffering, in whatever form it comes to us, has a history of being the best schoolmaster. It is where we tend to learn the most about how to love as Christ did; by denying ourselves (Mark 8:34).
This study of the Book of Ruth is where I first academically learned of God’s Hesed love. Time would eventually bring about experiential knowledge. I will restrain from sharing this exciting revelation with you here. I encourage you to engage in this study of Paul Miller’s for the many convicting truths he directs us to in God’s Word. The life of Naomi reminds me of all that is out of order in my own life. Refreshingly, Ruth’s testimony reveals the beauty of this impossible love and the reassurance I received in releasing myself from something I am incapable of on my own.
Everything about myself, and the way I approached love, became unsettling with each new chapter. I found myself in this uncomfortable passage that led to the death of my ego, my energy, and what I thought was my safety. To my surprise, this passing, of what I thought I had perfected, welcomed freedom that I had not yet known. Paul Miller, and Ruth, show us how a decision made to die to self, always results in a resurrection.
We saw as Ruth chose to serve Naomi in humility and unconditional love, Ruth found God. It did not end there. Through Ruth’s spiritual and emotional death, she was resurrected to love freely. Everyone in her life was affected by her story. Naomi also experienced her own resurrection to a new way of life as she was loved through Ruth. Paul Miller reminds us that every time we choose to die for the love of someone else and we realize a resurrected way of life, we are mirroring the redemption Christ offers to the whole world.
I exude you not to shy away from this book regardless of the apprehension it may stir up within you. I tend to be somewhat superstitious, and I immediately begin to fear what God is going to ask of me after he reveals some new truth that I need to implement. I won’t give you false hope. I guarantee He will reveal a necessary change to you. We can be confident of that. We can also be assured that in anything He asks of us, He has already made a way. We can love with boldness, completely emptying ourselves, knowing that we can endure the weight of Hesed because we love through Him. (1 John 4:16)