I have a bad habit when reading a book. And because I read a lot, it is a hard habit to break. 

This book will be good for someone else, I usually say to myself.

Never mind the fact that God will speak to me as I read and meditate on the content, I’m in the business of helping others.

God definitely had something else in mind when I won the book A Loving Life by Paul E. Miller, because most of it pricked my heart in places I thought were long resolved. I know how to love, right? A Loving Life follows the journey of two widows, Ruth and Naomi whom could have easily been forgotten in the thread of red that runs through the Bible. But God does not forget them, and takes them on a quest that neither one expected to end the way it did. A journey of covenant love. 

With Ruth being one of my favorite books of the Bible,(another post for another time) I thought I knew it well. I thought I knew the end from the beginning and why Naomi did what she did and why Ruth, a foreigner would follow her mother-in-law to a country that was not her own. More conviction for this wife who thought she knew it all. 

The author covers seven themes that emerge from taking a journey with a woman whose husband and sons have died and the wives they leaven behind. Themes of 

  • What is love? What is Hesed love?
  • How is the gospel thread seen in the book of Ruth?
  • Community and Lament are covered
  • Praying: What does a praying life look like?
  • Femininty 
  • What does a godly man look like?

I was in for a rude awakening because I thought this book was about two women who were at the bottom of life’s barrel with nowhere to turn but back to where they had wandered from many years before. Instead, I found God convicting me about marriage, mine in particular. Could I honestly say I was practicing Hesed love with my husband? Do I move towards my spouse after an argument or do I pull away leaving an “ugly space to grow”? And I was only on chapter 2.

Why is hesed loved so important? Because life is moody.(I can be moody)Feelings come and go. Pressures rise and fall. Passions ebb and flow. Hesed is a stake in the heart of the changing seasons of life. Words of commitment create a bond that stands against life’s moodiness. Paul Miller

The heart prick where my heart has bled the most while reading this book has been the fact as a Christian wife married to a pastor, I was convinced I was practicing hesed love. I was not. For way too many years I’ve wanted to love and be loved on my terms, and if my spouse did not fulfill those terms he heard about it. I think I was “idolizing love.”(p.35) I am making it my goal to create community in my marriage rather than focusing on the negative that will drive him away from me. 

This concise book on the story of Ruth and Naomi is not a ‘marriage’ book. It is a study on what hesed love looks like. How “every need, every person, is an opportunity to live another life.” To look beyond self and not just join a community but create community wherever you are and whomever God has given you to love.

Faith and hope will one day pass away, but not love. Love is forever.

If you want to understand, and be challeneged by hesed love, then I highly recommend A Loving Life, where in a world of broken relationships, love is the answer.

In compliance with the FCC, I received a copy from Crossway Publishers.