Day 31: What if {rest} is a place to be rather than something to do?

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.  The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!”  Ruth 1:8-9 esv

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?  Ruth 3:1 esv

On this last of 31 days gleaning with Ruth, I’ve been asking the Lord why Naomi chose prioritized rest for her daughters in law.  On their way out of Moab, Naomi stopped and blessed the young women to go home and find rest – each in the house of a husband.  And later for Ruth, after the harvest season was completed, back in Bethlehem of Judah, Naomi’s desire and priority was to find her a place of rest.

Looking at the Hebrew words used in each of the two verses I realize Naomi’s idea of rest is far different than our American Merriam Webster definition of rest, which is – repose, sleep… a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities.

{rest}

Ruth 1:9 – in this scripture reference the Hebrew word for rest is mĕnuwchah according to blueletterbible.com meaning – figuratively, consolation (specifically, matrimony); hence (concretely) an abode:—comfortable, ease, quiet, rest(-ing place), still.

And then in Ruth 3:1 the Hebrew word for rest is mânôwach, maw-no’-akh; quiet, i.e. (concretely) a settled spot, or (figuratively) a home:—(place of) rest.  This word for rest in the Hebrew carries with it the idea of security.

As we’ve journeyed along through the book of Ruth, we’ve witnessed this desire of Naomi come to fruition.  Ruth obediently followed Naomi’s instructions to wash, dress and lay at the feet of her near kinsman, Boaz.  As strange as that might seem to our modern western cultural norms, and especially inside the church – Boaz was the man Naomi hoped would step up to the role of Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, and Naomi knew how to get his attention without crossing a morality line.  To be covered, taken in, sheltered – to become the wife of the kinsman redeemer would mean rest, home, peaceful security and hope for her future.

Nowhere at all do we find an indication of Naomi desiring for Ruth the idea of rest in the sense of doing nothing, sitting around her tent, being still – not working – a cessation of being active.  Certainly, as a young woman, the expectation would have been for her to care for her husband and hopefully children as time went by.

In the days of Ruth and Naomi, women worked hard with great physical labor just to gather water and prepare a meal.  Their daily tasks were far beyond my view of keeping up a household – driving to the grocery store, buying and unpacking food already prepared for me, and gathering water through my indoor plumbing!

And so, while it is important to set aside time to rest from work – to stop the busy routine, the constant motion of going and doing and exhaustion, today the concept of rest Holy Spirit is highlighting is more in the realm of security under His wing.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.  Psalm 91:1-2

 

31 days gleaning into the nightSo, if anyone were to ask me:  “What is your one big take away from 31 days of gleaning with Ruth?” – it would be the concept of rest as relates to being sheltered under God’s wing.

I’m a busy lady, just as most of you are busy with your daily life activities.  As I look back on the last 31 days of writing every day, maintaining my full-time employment, caring for family (which includes 3 dogs) and home, and checking in on neighbors, it’s been an overly full month.  And yet, the fact that I am now crossing the finish line (with you) on this project is proof enough – this was God’s idea.  Truly because Holy Spirit has been leading the way, and I have simply followed under His direction, this adventure has been anything but burdensome.  Rather, it is has been a JOY feast for my soul.

I’m reminded this morning of Jesus’ definition of rest –

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:29-30 ESV

Yes, do you see it too?  Jesus teaches when we join Him in His work, under His gentle supervision, we will find rest for our souls.  It’s true!  I’ve experienced this truth in every one of the last 31 days.  I pray today you too are taking Jesus at His word, to join Him – yoked with Him – in His work for today.  As you choose today to submit to His gentle training, I am confident you WILL find rest for your soul.  I can’t wait to hear the testimonies…

Father, thank You for sheltering me under Your Wing and for covering me with Your Feathers as I’ve met with You in Your Word daily.  Holy Spirit thank You for teaching me in the peacefulness of the first fruits of the day.  Thank You, Jesus, for giving me rest in my work because this is the work You called me to do.  May I remember always and come often to sit at Your feet, my Lord, to rest with You and work with You under the security of Your habitation with me.  I give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever.  Amen.

Ponders:

  • What is your definition of rest?  Do you see rest as a state of being?  Or do you see rest as something to do?  Do you have room in your life for both forms of rest?
    • Is Holy Spirit highlighting a particular form of rest for you to prioritize today?
    • Would you like to make my prayer your own prayer today?  How might your prayer be different regarding rest?  In what areas of your life are you seeking rest?
      • Let’s pray together to be taught by Holy Spirit and to glean His truth for our good and for His glory.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  May God bless you richly with a desire to be tucked under His great Wing – covered by His Feathers as described in Psalm 91, and may you experience His tangible presence and an overwhelming sense of security no matter where you are or what tasks you are performing.  May you find yourself lying at Jesus’ feet and listening to His loving Shepherd voice calling you by name.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

Day 30: I yield & You {refine}

Refine: to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities (dictionary.com)

In all this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy  1 Peter 1:6-8 NIVrefine

On this 30th of 31 days of gleaning with Ruth – questioning my way through my own personal famine season, I ponder the word {refine} with a hopeful heart and a refreshed spirit.  Yes, without a doubt, I am – we, my husband and I are – in a season of refinement and it’s a painful process, yet clearly, throughout God’s word, He assures us it is for our good and His glory!

To Peter, Holy Spirit inspired an illustration of refinement by fire, which we can read also in Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the Psalms just for starters.  I’m also reminded of the words in Hebrews 12:29, which harken back to Deuteronomy – for our God is a consuming fire.

Those are the illustrations to which I’ve grown accustomed.  They speak mightily to me because of growing up near the Everglades in Florida.  I’m well aware of the devastation a fire will cause over acres upon acres of land, and yet there’s something miraculous that happens as a result of all the extraneous foilage being burned away.  The seeds hidden down under the ground’s surface are broken open by the heat of the fire and soon green shoots of new life spring up out of the ashes.  New life – cleansed and purified.

Through my gleaning up and down and around again through the scriptures in Ruth I’ve been challenged with a different illustration of refinement.  God, by way of His Holy Spirit living in us and teaching us, has the best ideas for expanding our understanding in the various seasons of our lives.  His goodness is evident in that He really wants us to understand we are never alone.  Never will He leave us…never will He forsake us.

refine wheat - square

So, gleanings of refinement from the book of Ruth:

Famine – we begin with a time of trial.  The people of Israel were living out cycles of disobedience, consequences, crying out to God, turning back to Him in repentance and peace.

Similarly, the agriculture, all of God’s creation, experienced cycles of drought, famine, rain, refreshed soil, seed, and harvest.  It’s a natural process because we live in a broken, sin-soaked world.

And so, even though at times we are tempted to believe God is doing something terrible to us and the enemy takes his best shot in our weakness to try to convince us God is not good, we need to go back to what we know is true.

We have to remember the truth of Who God is, and who we are redeemed in Him.  We need to remember the seed of His word sewn deep in the soil of our hearts.  We choose to resist the devil and draw near to God.  We yield our dry hearts to receive His Living water and in time the harvest will come again.

God refines us through the cycles of famine and harvest.

Harvest – this is the time of refreshing, returning for Naomi and adoption for Ruth.  This is the time of plenty.  Food is gathered and shared with the poor, the widows and foreigners inhabiting the land.

And part of the harvesting process is threshing.

to thresh – to separate the grain or seeds from (a cereal plant or the like) as in wheat – to separate the edible part (the grain) from the stalk – as with wheat or barley (dictionary.com)

I’m going to need to chew on these truths awhile longer because I’m fascinated with these few details Holy Spirit is unveiling for me in the idea of threshing coming with the harvest.31 days gleaning bushel of wheat

Who was responsible for the threshing of the wheat and barley harvest?

The Kinsman Redeemer – Boaz

Why was threshing necessary?

To refine the wheat/barley for making bread with which to feed the people.

In this we are able to see Jesus – our Kinsman-Redeemer – who allowed Himself to be threshed, broken open in our place.  He didn’t need the refining and yet He took it in our place.  Jesus told us – and tells us still through His living and active word – He is the Bread of Life.

Every table is an altar – please enjoy this worship of Jesus, the Bread of Life broken for us that we might be revived and live free – yielded to His refinement.  Receive the Glory Lord.

 

Ponders:

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.  Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.  Ruth 3:1-2 

Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”  Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”  Ruth 3:16-18

  • Will you ask Holy Spirit what He wants you to know about your current season of refinement?  Possibly past seasons of refinement are still a mystery and painful.  What healing do You want to bring to us, Jesus?
  • Will you?  And will I yield to our good God and Kinsman Redeemer so He might refine us for our good and His glory?

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining!

~Lisa

Day 10: My daughter, will you {listen} to me?

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me.  Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here.  Stay here with my servant girls.  Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls.  I have told the men not to touch you.  And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”  Ruth 2:8-9 niv

Then Ruth the Moabitess said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.'”  …So Ruth stayed close to the servant girls of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished.  And she lived with her mother-in-law.  Ruth 2:21 & 23 niv

31 days gleaning bushel of wheatRuth listened.  She listened with her heart and she listened with a desire to glean wisdom.

Ruth listened to Naomi and learned the ways of God’s people.  Better yet, she put into action all she had gleaned from Naomi.  Ruth’s behavior is evidence of her listening.

When Ruth found herself in the private audience of Boaz with whom she found favor, she listened.  His instructions (as were Naomi’s) were for her welfare.  Ruth couldn’t afford to be arrogant or dismissive or distracted from Boaz’s instructions.  Listening to him and obeying his directions could mean her safe dwelling – even her life.

{Listen}  Do I listen?

Maybe the better question is this:  Do I listen to instruction?  Do I take heed?

I am reminded of many memories of my childhood.  I could give you a number of examples of the ‘young me’ choosing not to listen to instructions.  However, I am inclined to relate a time I chose to really listen.  The stakes were high, and I knew it.

I was 6 years old when we moved to the house on 93rd Court in Perrine, Florida.  In those days children walked or rode their bikes to school, and I wanted to walk to Whispering Pines Elementary like the others.

My Dad, wise, was not going to send his little girl off walking to school without knowing the correct path.  I thought I could just follow the other kids and get there, but that was not a wise plan according to my Dad.  I needed to know the path for myself.  I needed landmarks, and I needed the assurance and confidence of knowing I was on the right path in case someone might try to lead me elsewhere.

So, we walked from our house toward the school, me and my Dad.  At each turn, we stopped…we looked around.  He asked me questions.  What do you see at this corner so you know to turn right?  What do you see here so you will know to turn left?  The one I remember best is the yellow house with the black shutters.  Turn left. Go up to the crosswalk and there it is – Whispering Pines Elementary School.

We practiced.  I listened.  I walked out all the steps I practiced with my Dad.  And on that first day when I arrived safely at school – all by myself – I was so proud and excited!  I didn’t get lost.  I was safe.  I had walked with all the other kids, but not following.  I walked confidently knowing the way.

me and dad

I was completely unaware my Dad was following a distance behind me in our VW bug… just to make sure his little girl made it safely on the way he taught her.

 

Blessed is the one who listens to me,
    watching daily at my gates,
    waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
    and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 8:34-35 esv

Ponders:

Here I am this morning, finding myself wanting to glean with Ruth under the direction of my trustworthy Redeemer.

I need to listen, Lord Jesus.  I need to really stop and listen to Your instructions for my life.  Walk with me today in this uncharted territory.  Help me to stop with You and look around.  Show me the landmarks of Your Word and teach me Your way – Everlasting.  Thank You Holy Spirit, I never walk alone!

  • How about you, friend?  Would you like to glean with me in this field today?
  • As you ponder the two Scriptures below, what is Holy Spirit highlighting for you?  What does the Lord want you to know about your life journey?  Finding His way?  Following His directions?
  • Will you share your gleanings with the rest of us in the comments?

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.  Deuteronomy 13:4 nlt

(As Jesus was transfigured before his 3 disciples they experienced this)  And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”  And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.  Mark 9:6-8 esv

 

 

Self, how are you doin’ today?

SelfOn a long drive home after visiting our son stationed near the Gulf of Mexico, my SunTanned Feet Man and I sang along to an all 80’s radio station to pass the time.  We were ‘naming that tune’ and trying to retrieve artists’ names from the dusty storage files in our brains.  It was fun to reminisce.

Suddenly, we heard the first few notes of a quirky song by Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime.  (I’m pretty sure you weren’t expecting Talking Heads, but feel free to click on the title to listen)  Our eyes met, we giggled and started singing along bobbing heads back and forth in the punk rock rage of the 80’s.  Some of the words are here (below) as well, and I hope you will at least breeze through the lyrics to catch the theme of talking to yourself.

Once in a Lifetime   (click here)

Talking Heads
And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

And right about now you might be asking yourself, “Self, how did I get here?”  Well, good, because I’ve also been asking myself some probing questions ever since that silly crazy wacky 80’s song got stuck in my head.

I’ve decided it’s healthy for me to ask myself good questions.  Self-talk is probably the biggest chunk of my used vocabulary on any given day.  For people who have conversed with me often, I’m talking more like a boulder than a pebble.  So, if I’m going to spend this much time and effort talking to myself, I might as well practice speaking truth to myself.

In my imagination, I can see you (if you’ve stuck with me this long) nodding your head. We all practice self-talk, whether we are aware of it or not.  In fact, if our self-talk is not renewed daily with the mind of Christ, we are probably our own worst enemy.  For most of us, self-talk can be one of the most effective tools of God’s enemy – Satan.  The way in which we converse with ourselves can keep us bound up, hostage to our stinkin’ thinkin’ and sidelined from the abundant life Christ offers through His finished ‘once and for all’ sacrifice on the cross.

I personally don’t think Satan or any created being has the ability to read our minds. Only the triune God is all-knowing.  (I’ll leave the theological debate for those much smarter than myself.)  The main point is that I have too often accomplished the enemy’s dirty work of destructive self-talk while he takes the day off or at least a coffee break.  By the time Holy Spirit has pulled me up out of the pit I’ve talked myself into, there’s a whole lot of clean-up work to be done – never mind the time wasted and opportunities lost.

Sometimes I have to ask, “Self, how did I get here?”

Since it’s much easier to hear stinkin’ thinkin’ self-talk coming out of other people’s mouths, I am 100% sure this nasty self-talk problem is an epidemic.  So, what are some practical tools for turning our self-talk into a mighty victorious weapon for living the abundant life Christ promised His followers?

Ephesians 1

  1. Self, we’re going to recognize we are not alone. (Deuteronomy 31:6 & Hebrews 13:5)
  2. Self, we’re going to fill our thoughts with words of truth. (Psalm 119:11 & Philippians 4:8)
  3. Self, we’re going to open up the conversation to Holy Spirit influence. (John 16:13)
  4. Self, we’re going to seek wisdom and healing in the dark, deep and hidden places. (Daniel 2:22 & James 1:5)
  5. Self, we’re going to put on the armor Father has graciously given us to wear as we go out to battle. (Joshua 1:9 & Ephesians 6:10-13)

{Pause for a disclaimer.  I’m not in any way proclaiming Talking Heads or this song as gospel truth; however,  Holy Spirit can use anything to teach truth.}

Ponders:

  • Is destructive self-talk something you recognize as a problem to overcome?
  • In what way do you feel vulnerable to this cycle of stinkin’ thinkin’ and the resulting negative self-talk?
  • Do you recognize particular triggers – people, scenarios, stresses, etc – which bring on the downward spiral of lies?
  • Do you want to be free?
  • Will you confess this behavior to God?  Will you ask Him to teach you how to have the mind of Christ, speak the truth, encourage yourself in truth, and live victorious ready to serve Him fully?
  • Will you ask a trusted person to walk this healing journey with you?

Let’s put our eyes on Jesus…and shine!

A Joy to Know You Tried to Play

This post is written in participation with the Five Minute Friday community.  It is my delight and honor to get to participate with Kate Motaung each Friday in this five-minute free write challenge.  Our leader, Kate, sends out the prompt each Thursday evening at 10 PM.  This week the word is {play}

fmf logo

The rules are gentle and simple:  Know the one word prompt.  Set a timer for 5 minutes. And then write.  A challenge for the recovering perfectionists (including myself) – no editing, corrections and improvements.  Offer yourself plenty of grace and everyone in the community will too.

Come on, you’re invited… jump in and PLAY

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Mom, I want to play the piano.”  Well, we didn’t have a piano, but my friend next door had one.  I loved to sit with her on the bench and watch her fingers move over the keys creating a beautiful melody to fill the air.  I wanted to be able to play too.

If you were a child and/or you are a parent, you can guess at the gist of the conversation. Long story short with much pleading and promises to practice my parents purchased a beautiful brand new upright piano.

And I did take lessons.  I did practice.  I did learn to play some beautiful music.  I enjoyed the challenge and the results (though I am sure I complained about practicing).

I enjoyed it until I became the piano student of a teacher who insisted all her students would perform in a recital once a year.  I was not one to get up in front of an audience and perform solo.  I was shy.  I was terrified at the prospect.  And I was angry at the demand.  To take lessons with Mrs. Blackmon meant I would play in a recital.

Apparently my desire to play was greater than my angst toward the recital.  Most likely a huge piece of my motivation to continue onward was my desire not to disappoint my parents and to keep my promise to play the piano purchased according to my wishes.

Regardless as I look back all these forty years later I am delighted I tried to play.  I did play in two piano recitals.  I don’t remember how well I played or the number of errors made.  I simply remember an accomplishment of overcoming my deep fear of sitting solo in front of an audience to play.

I tried.  I did it scared.

You too?

Yes.  Try.

It’s a joy to know you tried to play…