Meet Danielle Rutherford
During the time of 1999-2001, Dr. Mays had the opportunity to meet and do ministry with this month’s author of the Agape Letter. Danielle Rutherford is a person who has triumphed over some of the worst circumstances anyone could experience. Her faith in God has been the driving force in her perseverance, as well as the way she inspires others to press on regardless of one’s situation.
She is a globetrotting superstar who has managed to bloom everywhere she has been planted (stationed in the military). Her support of Agape Leaders is one more example of her selfless desire to help others in any way possible.
We are blessed to have Danielle in our lives and supporting this ministry.
Thank you, Danielle, we appreciate you.
Exile is a common theme in the Old Testament, but it might not seem truly relevant to us today. However, as believers, we are considered exiles of this world. When we look at our lives from an eternal perspective, we know this is not our home. But this doesn’t mean we feel like an exile everyday. For many of us, there are different seasons where we feel our reality as sojourners more tangibly.
As a military spouse, I have moved to amazing locations. However, I have also moved to places that felt like exile. I felt cut off physically, emotionally, and sometimes spiritually as our family tried to find our place in what I deemed as a less than desirable duty station. “Here I am Lord, send me…just not here”. Have you felt this before? It could be a new assignment for a job, changes to your community or location that make you feel like an outsider. How do we deal with this?
One phrase I grew up with as a military brat and still use today is “Bloom where you are planted”. I believe that wherever God plants us, we can bloom or thrive. In fact, some of those places that I felt were exile turned out to be the most amazing and memorable times of my life.
Jeremiah 29 is a Letter to the Exiles. The Israelites were taken captive and transplanted in Babylon. Exile was not something new, and the Israelites knew that it wasn’t going to be a permanent situation because of what the prophets foretold. Eventually they would leave – could be 6 months, a year, two years. I imagine for many, they were intensely longing to leave. “Why unpack? We are just going to leave soon.” is what I imagine many were saying or thinking (I may or may not have said these exact words before).
But God instructed His people to do the following:
v5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.”
You might say, “I already have a house!” And, if you are like me, have a track record of killing anything green. However, we don’t want to miss the implication in this verse. The Message version tells us to “make ourselves at home”. Enjoy the dwelling God has blessed you with. Be hospitable. Make your house a home.
v6 “Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too many have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.”
This verse does not mean to go out and get married to someone in your community or marry off your children. What we can take from this is to be relational. Get to know people – love your neighbors. Find a church, serve, and live life with the people God has placed around you. Live a life that points others to God.
v7. “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
We are to pray for our communities and for our country. We should seek ways to help. Get to know the issues – did God place you in your community for such a time as this? Can you use your resources and know-how to help your neighborhood, town, city, state, and country? How can you be a light where you are?
I believe that right now, many of us feel as though we are in exile. Quarantine restrictions and lockdowns have changed how we do many things. For some, this has been a season that has caused increased stress, worry, depression, and anxiety. But remember, God has a plan for us “… to prosper and not to harm, plans to give you a hope and a future” (v 11). God wants us to thrive and to make the most of where we are – not just based on our physical location.
When we are rooted in Him, we can bloom where we are planted.
Do an internet search and you will find several definitions for the word “Agape.” According to one site, Agape is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, "the highest form of love, charity" and "the love of God for man and of man for God". This is the definition that we use at Agape Leaders for the way we mean agape. In our lives, many of us long to receive a “love letter” from that special someone. You are our special someone, therefore we are sending you our “Agape Letter,” our love letter to you.