What should I do with my life, and how do I figure that out? If that’s something you’ve been asking yourself, be encouraged that you’re not alone. Humans across many centuries have been contemplating the same problem, and often without an answer to show for it. Many of us end up just “going with the flow” until something comes along, but that’s not always the best approach to something as important as ‘your life.’ There’s no doubt that having a plan is better than not having a plan, even if all it does is to motivate you to get started.
My favorite college professor had a saying that I really didn’t get the import of until much later in life. He very often would say, “do something, even if it’s wrong!” It’s much easier to steer a moving car than an immobile one. But then on the flip side, there’s that famous quote from Mike Tyson: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
More to read: What is My Purpose in Life
What Do I Want to Do with My Life
So what’s the answer? Should we plan our life out, or just wait and see who hits us in the mouth and decide what to do about it then?
For starters, let’s just admit that not only do we not know what to do, but we don’t even know what we want to do. If you’d like to read another piece on the subject, check out I Don’t Know What I Want to Do with My Life.
I Don’t Know What I Want to Do with My Life
The truth is this: we simply don’t know what the future holds, so that makes it a little tricky to plan it out. And trust me, at whatever age you are now, you have no idea what you’re going to wish for or want to do a decade or two from this moment. I’ve often wished that there would be some trusted source of authority that I could turn to and find out the optimum path for me, so I could just do that.
Great news – there is! Please watch this talk from communicator Levi Lusko and see how that can happen for you.
God Has a Plan
We are in the midst of a series of messages that we have called Pretty Ugly People, and we’re talking about basically how not to be fooled by the curb appeal when we deal with ourselves in the mirror and when we are making decisions about who to date and who to allow into our lives. We’re learning to do better and to look deeper because charm is deceitful. This is where we began four weeks ago.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty, humanly speaking, is fleeting. But where there is a depth of character, and specifically a fear of God, that’s praiseworthy forever. To not be tricked into being obsessed with things that are trivial, that’s really where we’ve been trying to get to hang out. And we’ve been talking about how to develop our own inner beauty, and this week we want to talk about the fact that what’s true in a life is also true in circumstances, that we can’t always judge what we see as an accurate representation of what’s really going on.
Just like it would be a mistake to see someone at a social event or a school and fall for them because they’re so good looking without really taking some time to get to know who they are on the inside, it’s also a mistake to deal with difficult circumstances in life and to make a snap judgment about what’s happening just because something is hard.
Don’t Be Fooled by Curb Appeal
What I want to talk to you today about is how to remain pretty even when life is ugly. What do we do when life hands us bitter pills to swallow? And specifically, how to not become bitter just because at that moment the situation that we’re dealing with is. Is it possible that we could remain beautiful even in the midst of things we’re facing, that there’s no way to describe it except these things are ugly? The title of my message is God Has a Plan.
And sometimes at the end, there’s kind of a big twist. I was talking to our college students today, and there was a Q&A. And one of the questions they asked is, how do you figure out your surprise endings? And I was like, what do you mean? They’re like, sometimes the ending is like a big turn. And I was like, oh, well, you want to try and find tension and leave through the door you came in. And I try and keep people interested and have something, maybe they didn’t see a connection at the end of the message.
But let me just tell you right now, at this one, there’s nothing like that. So where I began is where I want to end. I hope to, by the end of our time together, help you to see and understand that there is incredible life changing power unleashed on your life when you simply, stubbornly, obstinately hold onto this fact and never let it go. God has a plan.
And when you can look at life and see pretty much everything that’s not nailed down blowing in the wind, and even some things that used to be nailed down also blowing in the wind, and you can still say, you know what? Even here, God has a plan. I’m telling you something. You will have tapped into a life-changing kind of a faith and a resolve, and that’s where God wants you to be. So help me encourage someone nearby you. Find someone, look him in the eyes, tell him, God has a plan.
The Book of Ruth
God has a plan. Now, come on, your second person, someone around you, tell them, God has a plan. And then eyes back up here, together, let’s say together. God has a plan. Am I encouraging anybody on a Sunday morning at 11 o’clock? All right. And nowhere that I can think of in scripture do we see this more vividly than in the Old Testament book of Ruth. And I would encourage you this week, take some time and read the whole book of Ruth. It is four chapters. It will take you five minutes, and you’ll see what I’m trying to show you in miniature really blow up in your life in a beautiful way, in a magnificent way, like a pop-up book.
I spent all week– because at the beginning of the series, before we started, actually, I began the series knowing I wanted to end by talking about Ruth. And sometimes when I’ve sketch out a series, it changes a lot by the time we get to the end, and God shows me something different. But this time it’s really been I knew I was supposed to start with Jezebel, and we were going to get to Absalom, we were going to talk about David. And from the very beginning, it was in my heart to really end by talking about this princess story in scripture, this beautiful book of the Bible, Ruth.
Creating a Life Plan
She is the name of the book, it’s her name, although she didn’t write it, and we don’t know who wrote it. Some people think Samuel did, the prophet who anointed David to be King, but we don’t know for sure. We do know is written roughly 1300 to 1000 BC, concurrently to the Book of Judges. So the Old Testament book of Judges plays out, and in the midst of that somewhere, though we don’t know exactly where, is this book of Ruth. It’s like a side stream, a parallel stream, to what’s happening in the Book of Judges.
So if before you want to read it, if you want extra credit, read a little bit of Judges, and then jump into Ruth. God will be really excited about you if you can do that this week, let me just tell you. Obviously, I’m joking. But it is one of two books of the Bible that is named after a woman, the other being, of course– Esther. Queen Esther. And it is also significant because it is the only book of the Bible that is named after someone who’s a Gentile, and so it’s significant, of course, for all those reasons and many, many more.
Most Beloved Books
It’s one of the most cherished, beautiful books of the Bible. It just touches your heart the same way that you watch a Disney movie, and it touches your heart. You read one of those Brothers Grimm fairy tales, and it hits you viscerally. I don’t care how strong a man you are. You catch half of Frozen with your little girl, and you’ll find yourself a little bit choked up. Believe me, I’m an expert in kids movies. I’ve seen Moana more times than you have, let me just tell you something. It is a beautiful thing to have little girls, though, and I’ve always loved it.
Jen and I have these four daughters that God blessed us with, and I have always loved being a girl dad. I mean, it’s been one of the great privileges, and exists to this moment of my entire life to be the dad of Lenya and Livvy and Daisy and Clover. And I always resented when I’d be out in public with my daughters, and, well, a lot of things that are said to a frustrated dad trying to manage life with a bunch of kids. You know, you look like you’re in over your head there. You think? Thanks for pointing that out. Wow, you need some help. I need to punch you in the nose, actually, is what I need to do right now, actually. What should I do with my life?
But the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had a stranger say to me in public when I would be out with these four girls would be someone who would say, nope, didn’t get that boy yet, did you? And it’s insinuating that girls are just like a stepping stone on the way to the boy that I surely must my whole life have wanted. And I would always kind of bristle at that and almost be like, you don’t even know how cool my daughters are. You wouldn’t have any idea what you’re saying.
I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life
But attacking strangers is not a good look, nor is it a great example for my four daughters. So I always kind of bit my tongue there. But God did give us the surprise ending. After we had given away all of our baby stuff– strollers and car seats and cribs, and that stuff had some miles on it anyway. It was like the crib, the new kid gets in, it’s like, why are there teeth marks all over the top of this? I don’t know. Your older sister’s crazy. What do you want me to say?
Boys vs. Girls
We had to get all the new gear for Lennox because it was just this big surprise ending having had this little boy. And it has been so many twists and turns, the differences between raising his sisters and him. He’s so violent. I mean, he looked peaceful up here, but don’t let him trick you. He’s tricky. Like, yesterday, I said, I love you, buddy. I love you. And I kind of playfully growled at his ear. And he grabbed my chin, pushed my head up, and started punching me in the throat, hard, over and over again. And I’m like, I couldn’t help but respect it. It was a great move, just throw a punch. I’ve never had a single daughter punch me in the throat. Just, love you.
It was highly effective and timed perfectly. I was gasping for air, anyhow. We’re potty training Lennox. He decided– one day, he just took his diaper off, and just wouldn’t look at it again. So he’s like, I’m potty training. And so we’re like, OK. So we’re figuring this all out. And I had noticed that all of his sisters and his mom and his babysitters had been teaching him to go to the bathroom sitting on a toilet. And I said, I have a part to play in this. And I was like, this is finally my time to shine.
You guys need to quit sitting him down on the toilet. This is now a parenting moment for me to shine. And so I just said, son, one of the great joys of life is peeing as a man standing up. There is nothing I can give you that’s a bigger gift, ultimately, than this moment right here, right now. And so that’s been– for the first time he did it, he looked up at me. He was like, why were they holding out this on me? And it’s just the things kids say. Like, first time I took him to the bathroom, he went number 1, and then indicated he needed to also go number 2, which he did. And I was like, good job, son. And he goes, that made my butt feel better. And I said, I understand. I get it. That is, in fact, one of the best things that your butt will ever–
Kids Say the Darndest Things
And so we write down some of these funny things that he says because we’ve done it with all of our kids. If you’re a parent, you don’t write down the things your kids say, you think you’ll remember, but you won’t. I always tell new parents, write down every funny little thing in the moment because you think, it’s so vivid now. But it gets foggy quickly. And when we read back to them the things that they’ve said when they’re older, it’s also great material for their high school graduation, I’m sure. I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life.
But we were driving in the car last night. And it was leap day, and so we had gone to eat dinner as a family. And just thinking about it, I was emotional all day. Livvy’s about to graduate high school. It’s, like, four years, Dad. Chill out. I know, but it’s coming quickly, and– anyhow. So we were driving home and we were talking boy, girl. And we were talking because we’re trying to help him understand the pronouns and just the difference between his sister and him, and our dog– because we have a dog, too.
You don’t know. It’s Tabasco. His name’s Tabasco. It’s a poodle who’s neutered. It was before the boy. I said, I do want a boy dog. I want to have one other boy in the house, and so we named him Tabasco. Really masculine. He’s very strong. He’s a poodle with a mohawk. He’s a great dog. Anyhow, so we were going through the family. Is Mom a boy or girl? Girl. Is Dad a boy or girl? Boy. But then he, of course, thinks it’s funny to get it wrong on purpose.
How to Figure out What to Do with Your Life
And so he was really funny in the moment because we go, is Clover a boy or a girl? He goes, boy, but I’m a girl. And those trees are girls. And I go, well, what about Tabasco? And he goes, he’s a tree. And I said, very well played. So labeling things is actually in the text. So that’s where we’re going, Ruth, chapter 1. I want to read to you just the first chapter. You’ll read 2, 3, and 4 this week. But it says, “in the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life.
“The man’s name was Elimelech. His wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Killion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now, Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. “They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about 10 years, both Mahlon and Killion died also, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
Naomi in Moab
“When she heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her 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. “Then Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.
Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud and said to her, no, we will go back with you to your people. “But Naomi said, return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons who could become your husbands? “Return home, my daughters. I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me, even if I had a husband tonight and gave birth to sons, would you wait until they grew up? What should I do with my life?
Your People will Be My People
Would you remain unmarried for them? No. My daughters, it is more bitter for me than for you because, notice, the Lord’s hand has gone out against me. “At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. Look, said Naomi, your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her. “But Ruth replied, don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life.
Your people will be my people, your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. “May the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely if anything but death separates you and me.” Let’s take a quick second and just say– “When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. What should I do with my life?
Why Call Me Afflicted?
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, can this be Naomi? “Don’t call me Naomi, she told them. Call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. “Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me. The Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.
So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth, the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.” Now, even just reading this, we sense a severe emotional tone to all of it. It’s stark, and we are given a whole decade of pain and difficulty before there’s even one line of dialogue. We’re just left, like, staccato bursts of pain. Bam, this happened, bam, this happened, bam, this happened, and we can feel it viscerally.
We can read this in our guts. We know to be moved for them. We know to care about them. But it becomes all the more powerful and potent when you understand something of the culture, something of the history, and, quite frankly, like Lennox saying that Tabasco is a tree, something of the identity of each of these different individuals. In the first place the names themselves. All of these names that we’ve read, they have meanings attached to them, like Elimelech, the patriarch of the family, Naomi’s husband. What should I do with my life?
God is the King
His name means, God is my King. God is the King. Now, that’s ironic and interesting because the idea of a King is at the center of the Book of Judges, for it ends with this idea of there was no King in Israel, and everyone did whatever was right in their own eyes. It was a time when the nation had by and large turned away from God, and so therefore they had no King. God was meant to be the King of his people, be their leader. They were supposed to follow him. It was a theocracy, different from any other culture, any other kingdom on the face of the Earth.
They were led by God. But when they turned from God, now there’s no King. There’s no rudder, there’s no moral compass. So everybody was just, this is north, this is south. This is the way we’re going to go. This is what’s right for me. It was this time of relativism when it came to morals. When it came to what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s up, what’s down, people were turning to the different idols that were worshipped by different people.
So it was a time when there was no King but here’s a guy whose name literally means, God is my King, I’m going to follow God. And what’s he doing? He’s leaving Israel. He’s turning away from the place where they’re meant to be walking under God’s blessings, developed as a people, a light to the rest of the world. He’s going to Moab, which is the last place you want to go if you wanted to follow God and live like he’s your King. It was known for sexual immorality. I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life.
What Should I Do With My Life
It was known as a place full of women who were loose in standards. It was a whole red light district kind of place. It was a corrupt place. And so here he is going there. Why is he going there? Because there’s no bread. Now, the irony of that is the text tells us they lived in Bethlehem, which means, house of bread. Worst name ever for a place where there’s no bread. Who doesn’t love bread, by the way? Just side note, while we’re on the subject.
Have you ever been in a restaurant, and the waiter’s like, do you want me to bring you bread? I’m always like, stupidest question you’ll ask me today. Just like, do I want to see the dessert menu? Or would I like a refill? Just, yeah, yeah. Keep it coming. Keep the bread– just rub the bread on my face. Is that weird? Too much? Back it off? Just a tiny bit? Just give me bread. Bethlehem, house of bread. There is no bread. So the guy leaves the house of bread to go find bread.
God is My King
He turns away from the place where God’s King, even though his name’s God is my King. And he has two sons. Him and his wife, Naomi, they have two boys, Mahlon and Killion. Now, these boys do live up to their names because Mahlon and Killion mean sickly and pining, and they both die pretty quickly, which is a cautionary tale, parents, what we speak over our kids. Their names were sickly and pining, and they ended up living up to them. What should I do with my life?
Now, of course, I’m not insinuating that that’s why they died. But let me just say this. Be careful what you speak over your kids. Be careful the way you speak over other people. The Bible says your tongue has life and death inside it. There’s some truth to the idea, like Mark Twain said, you could go a month on a compliment. When someone says something encouraging to you and speaks it to you, it just really gets stuck in your heart. You think I’m good at that? You liked what I did there? What should I do with my life?
What People Say Matters
That effort, the time it takes to give someone something that can lift them up. Conversely, we can all remember a time in our lives when someone spoke death over us. And for years and even decades, we just we just think that there’s some part of our anatomy that’s weird or this or that or the other, or we’re dumb or ugly or worthless or not talented because someone just– they might not even realize in the moment that they were saying. What should I do with my life?
So take to heart the idea that in the heart of every boy and girl there’s a fool and a king, a fool and a queen, and who you speak to will rise up. Speak to the fool in your son’s heart, the fool will rise. Speak to the queen in your daughter’s heart, and the daughter will rise. We can speak over things what then becomes of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And we can do the same to ourselves. What you see when you look in the mirror, and there’s a power you have in your confession.
Names that Have Meaning
And we find in Mahlon and Killion names that they live up to. Elimelech, a name he did not live up to. We have in Naomi a name that means “pleasant” or “beautiful.” It’s lovely, it’s good. Her name, Naomi, it’s a wonderful name. And after her husband dies, her two sons, they marry. They marry Moabite women. Now, as the story would be read and needed in any Jewish home, they would have sucked in through their teeth. They married Moabite women. Oh, that’s not– that’s terrible. That’s not good. What should I do with my life?
And their names were Orpah, and then our heroine, Ruth. Orpah means “stubborn,” and Ruth means “friendly” or a friend, or friendship is the idea. And for 10 years they’re married to these boys, and things seem to be kind of rebounding a little bit. They were able to work and live in Moab for a whole decade and support Naomi. But then both of her sons die, and now you have this odd family, if there ever was one.
The Original Marriage Vows
You have these two daughters who now technically aren’t even related because there’s not the relationship to Naomi through their husbands anymore, and that’s what she sort of insinuates to them on the road when she goes, hey, look, you honored my boys all the way to the dead, to their deathbed. The marriage vows, which, by the way, many of the lines from our marriage vows, as are standardly repeated in our culture today, were actually ripped and framed from Ruth’s confession that she made here on the road to Naomi. What should I do with my life?
It’s been called one of the most powerful statements of love and commitment that’s ever been vocalized, what she had to say to her here on this day. And so it’s actually amazing. We’ll get to that in just a minute. But here on the road, Naomi says, you don’t need to go with me. And she releases them from their sense of commitment to her because life would be a lot easier and better for them just to go back to Moab.
Back to Moab
Now, it would be a lot worse and harder for Naomi to live at home alone without a husband, to live at home alone without these kids. And in that day, and in that culture, very different reality than in our day. And so what she was doing– I used to read it and kind of almost think, that’s kind of messed up of you to just get rid of them. No, she was actually serving them. The Bible says that the true love does not seek its own. In Naomi, it would have been a much easier life to have these two girls to lean on still, but she was realizing there was no prospects for them of a good life in Israel. So in sending them back to Moab, she was setting her needs and her interests behind theirs. And many commentators actually point to that being the catalyst in Ruth’s conversion, for Ruth on the spot gave her life to following and committed her whole life to following the God of the Bible when? In response to Naomi preferring them above herself. It wasn’t her actual words of evangelism. Those are terrible.
Naomi literally, in verse 13, she says, God’s hands got out against me. In verse 21, I went away full, but God’s brought me back empty. Don’t call me Mara, pleasant. Instead call me– don’t call me Naomi, pleasant. Instead call me Mara, which means bitter. So her of her evangelistic tendencies are really bad. I would not put her on a microphone ever. Her words are terrible. What should I do with my life? I’m like, Ruth, don’t listen to her. It was her life that was beautiful. Her life was– I mean, honestly, the way she is serving Ruth and the way she’s serving Orpah, it was that that caused Ruth to be committed. Now, she had had a decade of hearing what Naomi believed.
Why Am I Here
But here in this moment, it shows that when Naomi was willing to love these girls selflessly, even though they didn’t believe what she believed, it was then that she said, I want what you got. I want to follow after the God who can enable you to love me like you’re loving me here in this moment. It’s challenging and inspiring to want to love like Naomi and to love people no matter what they believe in, no matter where they’re from, no matter what’s going on in their lives, but to love that way and to want to seek their best interests.
And that’s what Naomi does, and it causes Ruth to really plant her flag of faith and to throw down this gauntlet of, I want to follow God. This is her moment of conversion. I want to follow him all my days. What should I do with my life? That’s what I’m going to do. But in contrast to Ruth, who here at this moment is beginning a faith journey, Naomi is having a dark chapter of her faith journey. She’s struggling to make sense of why a good God would allow her to face what she’s facing. She’s having a chapter of doubt. It seems she’s having a moment of a little bit of a lapse of faith.
Let’s Make a Plan
You can’t help but find comedy in the scene, where the two girls at first go, no, no, we’re going to come with you. She’s like, no, how is it going to go good for you here? Orpah’s like, you’re right. Peace out. She just bounces. At the first sign of resistance, she’s like, OK, there’s an open door. I tried, but see you later, Ruth. Good luck with that. What should I do with my life? She’s off with her clear high heels back to Moab, and she’s already downloading Tinder as she turns. You know what I’m saying? Too soon? And Ruth is different. Ruth’s like, actually, you know, I think I’ll go with you.
Plan to Follow God
I want to follow God. And Naomi’s almost like, are you sure? He’s kind of sucky at the moment. I don’t know why you’d want to follow him. And Ruth’s like, no, but for real. Now, I know you’re having a hard moment right now, but what you really told me about him and how I’ve seen him change your life, you really do care. I want what you’ve got. It’s almost like there’s such big waves overtaking Naomi’s ship, and Ruth can see some waves are getting on the boat, and it’s getting you wet and it’s ruffling you a little bit. And so, yeah, you’re saying stuff you don’t even hardly mean right now, but I know deep down you have an anchor.
Life Plan Template
And I don’t have an anchor, but I want an anchor. So I’m going to follow your God, even though, yeah, there’s going to be lapses and moments of me spouting off and just like– you’re human. Naomi’s human. But as she’s following God, Ruth goes, I want what you’ve got. And so here comes, in the midst of just ugliness everywhere– agreed? Famine is how it all started, in case you forgot verse 1, famine in the land. OK, so we’ll go here. This will work. Oh, now there’s a death. But that’s OK. Now there’s a new beginning, there’s a new hope. The force starts to awaken. The things I say. And they die, too.
And there, at the center of all this atrocity, is Ruth rising up like this beautiful flower, this gorgeous heart, pretty in the face of ugly. And so how do we model our lives after Ruth? Because anybody with me, like, I want more of that? I want to respond to the bitter pills that she’s been asked to swallow like that when I handle hardship. I see four things on her journey.
Number 1, I see a perspective. There is a great perspective that Ruth has, and it comes from what has been written down by Stephen Covey, in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, as this idea of habit number 2, beginning with the end in mind. If we want to be a great leader and we want to live beautifully and live well, we don’t just live in the moment. What should I do with my life?
We go to the end we want, and we reverse engineer our life. And if you’ve read that book by Stephen Covey, he talks about actually going so far as to plan your funeral service in your head. OK, you’re there at the funeral service, because it’s coming. It’s barreling like a freight train towards you. You never stop moving towards it from the second you were born.
Write Your Own Eulogy
But today, there’s less life in front of you than there was yesterday. So your funeral is coming closer, and yes, it could be 60 or 70 years from now or later, but ladies and gentlemen, it could also be 20 years or 20 days from now. So when that day comes and the text message goes out and everyone gets over the shock enough to actually ask the question, well, when’s the service? Where’s it going to be? What time can I show up to pay my respects? What should I do with my life?
And someone in your family or your social circle is given the task of speaking a eulogy, and a eulogy means to speak well of. That’s literally what it means to eulogize someone. If you ever get asked to give a eulogy, they’re asking you, could you get up on the platform for a minute or two or 10, and speak well of that person’s life? So now they lived it. It’s come, it’s gone, and you are up on the platform to speak something well out of whatever material was given to you by your life. So here’s my question.
Life Plan Workbook
When your uncle or your sister or your husband or your dad or your son stands on that platform, what are you doing now to cause him to feel like he has an abundance or she has an abundance of material to work with? What should I do with my life? That’s living with the end in mind. You’re wanting to live in such a way where when they sit down to write, they’re like, I could write 100 pages just from the last year.
Character, integrity, responsibility, just a heart of compassion. That they’re just like not seen they’re going, wow, three minutes. You know, I think Dad always loved cousin Fred best. Cousin, would you do it? That you’re not giving them so little material to speak about. Dad really loves his boat. And God, he loved to golf so much. Wasn’t really at my games much, but sure did love to golf. Always busy, Dad was, temper on him, too. And man, five drinks in– you see what I’m saying?
Reverse Engineer Your Life
We are right now informing our eulogies through the way we live today. And Ruth lived beautifully how? She clearly had the end in mind, didn’t she? Where you go, I go. Your God, my God. Where you die, that’s where I’ll be buried. There is a wisdom that comes from remembering your end and reverse engineering a life to get to the end that God and that you, yourself, want you to have. And you don’t have to fear it when you’re prepared for it. That’s one of the great revelations. What should I do with my life?
In fact, now transitioning back to pretty ugly people and this idea of, as we choose the person to date, single people that we’re going to date and marry, the Book of Proverbs holds up what should be the characteristics that we’re looking for, of a wife, specifically, in Proverbs 31, but really, these attributes can be applied back and forth. What should I do with my life? And there’s a downplaying of the beauty that we see that we might just be all about, that, of course, is important, but it’s not the most important thing because charm is deceitful.
Beauty is Fleeting
What did we say week 1? And beauty is fleeting. But someone who fears God, that’s praiseworthy for a lifetime. One of the things that’s held up about this spouse that we should be looking for is that she has– this is Proverbs 31, verse 21– she is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. This has always been one of my favorite texts in scripture, and I’ve preached it all over the country. I actually use a Game of Thrones inspired title.
I call it Winter’s Coming, and I’ve preached it 100 times, probably. Right, Jennie, I mean, just everywhere, Winter Is Coming. Winter Is Coming, and just this idea of living in light of eternity, living in light of death, living in light. The Bible says, prepare to meet your maker. And only those who are ready to die are truly ready to live. And so what Esther gives for us is the perspective of backing up for a minute because when we’re in a trial, it just feels like we’re never not going to be in that trial, and there’s no way through it. And no one’s ever suffered like I’ve suffered and God must not care. It’s easy to get Naomi and turn ourselves into a bitter person.
An Example of Loyalty
It’s easy to just see, there’s no way we’re going to make it through this. And then we make foolish decisions, and those things compound. But to instead be like Ruth and go, hold on a second. Great perspective comes from remembering the end, and that end is not here yet. So we’re still alive. Oh, OK, right. We could still do something about it. We can still take action. If it’s not over, then God still is up to something, and God still has a plan. And so we learn from Ruth the power of perspective. Number 2, I see in her a great example of loyalty, loyalty that’s just stunning. I mean, her name is friendship, and she lived up to it. What should I do with my life?
And she did not change her name from loyalty to disloyalty in difficult moments. There’s nothing Naomi can do for her, no blessing Naomi has for her. But she’s in it to see what she can bring to Naomi, not get from her. So she was loyal to her friend. And really in life, the friendships that you foster are some of the most important things, of course, with your spouse. What should I do with my life? And I think some of the best marriage advice I could ever give you is, would be to work on the friendship aspect of your marriage.
What Do I Really Want to Do with My Life
So those of you who are not yet at that place of being married, you would say, what do I do? I would say, down the road, build great friendships. Build great friendships that out of which will spring romance. The romance side of it really takes care of itself. The friendship aspect takes work. When you feel swept off your feet, that’s amazing, but that’s not powerful enough to build a life on. So to build a church try and build a marriage on a crushes to guarantee down the road the relationship will be crushed. What should I do with my life?
There has to be the weight of friendship under it. At the end of it, what makes sex great, what makes life together great is that power of friendship, the ability to laugh together and the ability to remain loyal even in the most trying of circumstances and the most painful situations you can face. So Ruth was loyal to Naomi, and then, even though she’s been a Christian for 15 minutes, loyal to God. She made her decision, that’s it. She’s not getting talked out of this thing. Naomi tried to she tried to. And some of the worst evangelism I’ve ever seen in my entire life, Naomi. What should I do with my life?
A Change of Name
She’s like, God’s been terrible to me. Ruth’s like, I want to follow him. You probably shouldn’t. I’m changing my name to bitter because that’s all God does. You follow him, you’ll get bitter, too. Don’t make her a greeter. You know what I’m saying? It’s like we’re going to put you in the back office to serve. What should I do with my life? You know what I’m saying? Seems like you have the gift of administration. I don’t know. We’re not putting you on the front lines. Loyal.
And by the way– spoiler alert– you should read the whole Book of Ruth this week. When God brings a surprise ending for Ruth and this husband and all the rest, one of the things he says about her as he was watching her was– this is verse 10 of chapter 3– you could have had your pick of all the young men, whether rich or poor. But you didn’t go after any of them. Before Boaz came in and dated her and eventually ended up being her husband, he watched her. He was watching to see, was this girl– we knew she was pretty. But was she pretty on the inside? What should I do with my life?
Are you going to go after someone just for that what they could do for you in the situation? So she was loyal to herself, she was loyal to God, she would be loyal to Boaz as well. All right. Third thing I see in Ruth that I love is ambition. There’s ambition, there’s some drive in her. I mean, there’s some truth to that statement that fortune favors the bold, and there was a boldness to Ruth. There was a gutsy faith to Ruth, that she was willing to take difficult steps to do things, to just keep showing up, so to speak. For example, they get back home. Naomi is like, now I’m bitter and everything’s horrible. What should I do with my life? Let’s go cry somewhere.
What does she say, Ruth 2:2? Ruth [INAUDIBLE] said, hey, let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain left behind. And anyone whose eyes I find– what does she find? Favor. I’m going to go out there and look for something. I’m going to go out there and try. I’m going to go out there and try and get a job. I’m going to go out there and put myself out there and see what could happen. She wasn’t willing to just sit back at home and hope someone brings blessing to her, that someone shows up and rescues them.
Do Something Even if it’s Wrong
I’m praying for this, but you know what I’m going to do? If my prayer is answered, it’s going to find me out there trying. It’s going to find me taking initiative. And then it says, “as it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who is basically the perfect person in every way to own the field she would end up in.” So how did it turn out as it turned out she was in the perfect field? She woke up and said, I’m going to go out there and try. What should I do with my life?
I’m going to go out there. Everything you’ve ever tried has died. Everything you’ve ever tried has failed. Famine’s probably going to come. You know what? I’m going to get up and try, and maybe I’ll find favor. Oftentimes, we find favor when we go out looking for it. Let’s go out looking tomorrow for a favor. What should I do with my life? Let’s believe God has a plan. Let’s try. Come on. Let’s have some ambition to try again.
Jaded Not Allowed
The last couple of times you tried a business or to apply for a job or to get into that school, it didn’t work out. Let’s not get bitter. Let’s not get jaded. Let’s try again. Let’s get out there into the field. Let’s mix it up. Let’s try again, and let’s believe we’ll find favor. She takes initiative. I love the writing advice because a lot of times creative people are like, I only get creative at 3:00 AM. It’s when I get creative, at 3:00 AM. I have to feel creative to create. It has to be just write for the muse to come.
And I like the idea that says, hey, look, if inspiration does strike, it’s going to find me at my desk from 8 to 9 AM when I write for an hour. Whether I feel or not, I’m going to show up and put the hours in. What should I do with my life? And the inspiration, if it does strike, it’s going to know where to find me because I’m doing the hard yards of actually showing up to continue to create. I don’t have to feel creative in order to create. That was Ruth’s spirit. I’m going to go out to the field. I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life.
Be Your Own Destiny
Are you praying for God to bless me? Yep, and if he wants to bless me, he’s going to find me hustling, y’all, out there doing the hard things that it takes to get some crap done. [APPLAUSE]
As a result– and worship team, you can come on up here– Ruth’s story became one of nobility, nobility. What do you mean? I mean, when Boaz and Ruth get married, they have a baby. This is Ruth 4, verse 13. They get to become man and wife. “He went to her. The Lord enabled her to conceive. She gives birth to a son.” And verse 17, they named him Obed, who, side note, had a son named Jesse, who, side note, had a son named David, who the prophet Samuel didn’t think looked like much. What should I do with my life? But God said, I think I’ll go ahead and pick David to be King. The world said, eh, he’s ugly. God said, in his heart, I’ve seen it. It’s a pretty beautiful thing. I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life.
King David’s Great-Great-Grandma
And so now here’s King David, who, anytime he would talk about his great-great-grandma, we’re talking about Naomi, we’re talking about Ruth. But that’s not all because David has sons, and David’s sons have sons, and David’s sons’ sons have sons, and David’s sons’ sons’ have sons. In Matthew, chapter 1, we get to this beautiful little list in the New Testament. It’s a record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, who is the son of David, for sure, and also the son of Abraham.
But notice, when it’s telling all the records, verse 5 says, “Salmon was the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz, the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed, the father of Jesse.” So Jesus Christ himself, while he walked this Earth, thought back lovingly to his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma Ruth. For all of history, in all of eternity, Ruth will be revered as a part of the royal dynasty that God used in his rescue mission to get his son to this world. What should I do with my life?
Building a Family
Famine to funerals, funerals looking for, hoping for, dreaming for, clenching at anything. But in the midst of all of it, God was building a family. And in that family, there’s room for us all. And in that family, I Don’t Know What to Do with My Life we can have the confidence to look at the hardest things we face in this world and to believe He’s going somewhere, He’s up to something.
So we can just have perspective, stay committed, loyalty, and then just be ambitious, and never give up and not get discouraged, and know that we too are part of this royal thing, this nobility thing. In other words, God has a plan. He has a plan. He’s up to something. He’s working. Just give him space. Just give him time. Just don’t rush him. Just don’t be in a hurry. He’s really good at setting things up in such a way that we feel like there’s no way you can do this, and then he does. What should I do with my life?
Showing Up Empty-Handed
One of the most striking things to me is when Naomi gets back home, and the girls go, hey, Naomi, she goes, no, no, I’m bitter. Life’s bitter. She says, because I’ve come empty-handed. She said, I left full, but I’ve come home empty. What should I do with my life? I left full, but I came home with nothing because I left Elimelech and Mahlon and Killion, but I’ve come home with nothing.
And I love that Ruth doesn’t get offended. But if I’m Ruth, I’m like, what? You came home with me. And by the end of Naomi’s story, they are putting her grandson on her breast, and she is holding a grandbaby she never thought she would have. And look what her girlfriends say to her. They say to her, Naomi– this is Ruth, chapter 4, verse 14– praise be to the Lord who has not left you, your daughter-in-law who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons. Her girlfriends are like, man, it’s amazing that God brought you back here not empty-handed. He didn’t forget about you.
Restored Seven Fold
He gave you a daughter who’s better than seven boys, y’all. This girl was something special. And I love that because the Bible says any time the thief takes something, he has to restore it seven-fold. And I dare you to believe that anything that has left your hands or left your life has not been unseen by God, and he has a plan to restore it all and bring it back to you, but seven-fold. She left empty, but she came back with Ruth, a woman worth more than seven sons. What should I do with my life?
God used Ruth to bring a baby to her breast that she didn’t know it at the time, but would be a part of bringing her Savior to this world. So can we be a people who will trust God no matter what? And for Pete’s sake, put the label maker down. I came with an announcement. Cancel the name change because you don’t know what’s going on.
God is Good and He Has a Plan
Tabasco is not a tree, and you don’t need to be bitter just because life is bitter. God is good. God has a plan. He’s up to something in your life. I want to end this series by us confessing what Paul told us to confess about our lives. And I want to put it up on the screen. I want us to say it out loud. It will give us freedom. What should I do with my life?
It will give us permission. It will give us power, no matter what we’re facing today. Come on, say it out loud with me, all across the church. “I have learned in whatever a state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” In Jesus’ name.