Steven Furtick - How Do I Know If They Are The One?
This is an excerpt from: Blown Away!
Invariably, when Holly and I speak to people about dating or marriage, which I don't do too much… The reason for it is I feel like most of what I did right in marriage was in the selection process. I'm like, "Just pray. Pray that…" I mean, because if you were married to Holly, you would probably do pretty good too. She is not hard to be married to. And I mean that. Okay? You're like, "Eh, you're just sucking up so she'll kiss you today after lunch and all that. You just want to look good". No, I'm serious about it. That's really how I feel about it, but I think she kind of feels that way about me too. We were talking the other day. I said, "I know it's hard to have me for a husband sometimes. I know it's hard. Not because I'm abusive or mean or don't love you, or anything like that, but there's so much you didn't know about me when you said you would marry me". She says this thing a lot of times. She says, "I love everything there is to know about you". That makes me feel good.
So, I always teach (I know it's an unusual Scripture to teach about dating) from Matthew 13:44, to bring a New Testament verse right alongside this Old Testament story about Ruth and your current situation. In Matthew 13:44, it says, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that [treasure]". No. He bought the field the treasure was in. Jesus said the kingdom is like that. I would say that being married is like that. You don't just buy the shiny stuff. Oh, oh, oh! No, no. You buy the whole patch of field. "I'm not marrying their family; I'm marrying them". But on Christmas… Guess who you get to kick it with every Christmas. Yeah. They'll ask Holly, "How did you know that Pastor Steven…"?
I remember one time at intern teaching they said, "How did you know that he was the one"? I was irritated that day about something, so I said, "She didn't! She didn't know. She hoped". In a moment of candor. Probably the interns couldn't handle that. That was probably malpractice on these young hearts, just thinking it's going to be this total Jerry Maguire moment, if y'all remember that movie. I'm just imagining Holly going, "I think, I think, I think he's probably the one. I think, I think…" How did she know? You don't know. She hoped, and then she held herself to a standard that she would be the kind of woman who would find the man she wanted God to bring in her life. That's very important. "How did you know"? You don't know.
"Ruth, how did you know when you got up that morning that you were going to be in the field of Boaz? Did you just sense it? Did you wake up that morning, Ruth, and say, 'I have a good feeling that today I am going to bump into my Boaz'"? Ruth said, "No. I was just hungry. It was do or die. I had no husband. My mother-in-law was depressed. My mother-in-law was so depressed she started saying, 'Call me Mara.'" She changed her name to reflect her situation. She has a conflated identity that is informed now by her experiences. I've been thinking a lot lately about how our experiences affect our identity. I've been thinking about the entanglement that happens when you can no longer know the difference between who you are and what you've been through or who you are and where you come from.
Ruth, the Moabite, was a part of the lineage of Jesus, the Messiah. That makes no sense. Ruth knew none of it. "Why are you slowing down to tell us all this instead of just preaching the verses"? Because I want you to realize that you've been reading the book of Ruth wrong, as if she had some great faith, and as if you have to have some great faith that knows, "I'm exactly where God wants me to be, doing exactly what God has called me to do, and this is going to turn out okay for his glory". No. You don't know. "But you just had to know. Right"? No. I hoped. I worked, but I didn't know. "You had to know that 'Jireh' was going to be nominated for a Grammy after you wrote it. Right"? No. I loved it, and I thought, "If they don't give us a Grammy for this album, they're stupid". I did. I thought that, but I didn't know. You don't know.
As a matter of fact, in the middle of trying to process that particular album… Have you all heard the song "Jireh"? After we wrote it, I loved it so much, and I sent it to my friend, and he didn't say anything back about it. (You know who you are.) I was hanging out with my friend and my son. Elijah and I really loved "Jireh". We thought it was the greatest song, and we just loved it. I was talking to my friend, and he said something about "Jireh," which he never responded to on the text message. Look. I was so scared that maybe I liked it more than other people would, because when you put something out there, you never really know if they're going to judge it or not. That goes for everything from an outfit to an opportunity you try to seize to an encouraging word you try to give. That potential of rejection can be a really difficult thing. So I said to him, "I know 'Jireh' isn't a banger, but I like it".
Afterward, Elijah said, "What was that crap about 'Jireh' is not a banger? I thought we liked 'Jireh.' I thought we loved 'Jireh.' I thought we felt the presence of God in your truck when we listened to 'Jireh.'" I said, "You caught me red-handed. I was so scared that he didn't like it that I brought myself down so he couldn't do it to me. I did it to myself". "You had to know that song was special". No. I knew it was special to me. So, all of these little things… Do you see it in the Scripture? All of these little things that whoever wrote down Ruth wrote down way after it happened… You know that, right? This is not a live feed. Even when it says in verse 1… I love stuff like this. Even in verse 1 when it says it was the field belonging to Boaz… That was added after…years after.
Ruth did not know Boaz was Boaz. Even after she met him she didn't know who he was. So, it sets me free to know that certainty is not a prerequisite for faith, that understanding is not a prerequisite for blessing. Okay. Let me do a poll. This is for online too. You can participate in the chat. How many of you believe that God is guiding your life? Raise your hand. How many of you believe that from time to time you get off track? How can both be true? If God is guiding your life and he's good at what he does, how can you be better than God at your job disobeying…? Because that is what you do. The Bible says we all like sheep have gone astray. Sheep are "baad" at following directions. But the question really is… God is guiding my life. Yes. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths". "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord".
All of these Scriptures… I love those verses. I need God to lead me. What else am I going to let lead me? My feelings? My friends? Sometimes I think they're dumber than I am. I love them, but they're just as dumb as I am, if not dumber. I can't follow them. I'm sorry. I can't follow another frail human. I need the Lord to lead me. But the question I have deep beneath the veneer of that verbalization of a theological belief that God is leading me is "How detailed will he be? How involved will he get"? When you say, "God leads me…" Some people say that… In fact, from a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you believe God is leading your life? Where would you fall on a scale of 1 to 10? How much would you believe it?
Watch out for the people who shout "Ten" really quickly, because they think God speaks to them about everything. Everything. They put God in stuff that I don't think God cares about very much. Do you know what I'm saying? I mean, they really do. They just put God in the craziest stuff. "The Lord told me to wear pink". But pink does not look good on your skin tone. That wasn't the Lord. Be careful. When people say "Ten" like that, it's just a sign they're overcompensating a little bit, because probably, if they're saying "Ten," they don't want to have to make decisions. "Oh, I believe the Lord is leading me, and that's why I've been fired four times in the last 18 months". Because the Lord was leading you to another place to get fired from because you're irresponsible? That's what it was? Oh, it was the Lord who made you late to work 14 times. That was the Lord? How much can I trust God to lead me? You know what I'm saying? Will he step in…?
You know, like Jonah, will he send a fish to spit me out in Nineveh? Maybe. Will he send a wind if I'm trying to go to Tarshish and I'm supposed to be in Nineveh? Maybe. He did that in the Scripture sometimes. Will he completely redirect me? Is God like a GPS who will reroute me with a polite British accent? What does he sound like? How does God lead me? Now, remember, in the book of Ruth, we started with eight main characters, and now we're down to four. We started with a man named Elimelek. He died 10 years ago in Moab during the famine at the very beginning of the relocation of the family. We started with his sons, Kilion and Mahlon. They're dead too. All we're left with now are Ruth and Naomi, and there is no record of whether or not they even like each other. There is no record, and I guarantee you both of them would have rather had Mahlon (NaomI's son, Ruth's husband) back than to have to live with each other.
Now they're making do with what's left. The tension of the text is that God is doing something that will result in a king named David and a king named Jesus, and they don't get to read that part. You don't get to read that part. That's why it's not easy for you to raise kids, and that's why other people who have sent their kids far, far away and only have to see them three times a year can tell you how to raise your kids. They got to read the last sentence of the book where the kids left the house, but yours are still here. You don't get to read how it ends. You don't get to know how it ends. You don't get to know "Is this the end"? You don't get to know "Is my best behind me"? You don't get to know any of that. You have to live in the tension. That's hard to do, yet there is this note of grace. It's almost implied that Naomi and Ruth are walking along together, back in Bethlehem, Ruth away from everything she knew.
Do you know the god Chemosh she grew up serving demanded human sacrifices, according to their mindset? Now she's learning how to worship a God she has only heard about through the lens of Naomi, who is bitter about what God has allowed to happen in her life. She just makes a decision one day in the Scripture… I love this Scripture. It really got my attention to know that the Bible doesn't say the Lord led Ruth to the field. It just says she went to work. Now, if you are not a "10" person… "The Lord is leading me every step I take, every breath I take…" What's the song? "Every step you take…" It's so creepy. It's such a stalker song. If you're not a "10" on that, it's okay. If you want to believe that the Lord is leading you, but it doesn't feel like it or seem like it right now… If you want to believe the Lord is leading you, but you know it's your own stupidity that got you in the storm to begin with… If you are somewhere in the 6, "I think God is leading me here…" "I'm going to go out today, and I'm going to see if I can glean in a field". That's all Ruth said.