Day 21: Will I {give} my sandal in pledge?

“Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”  

Now in those days it, was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction.  {give}

So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.”  Ruth 4:6-8

{Give} – as in a pledge.

I have been fascinated by this portion of the story for some time.  The idea of taking off a sandal to give to another as a guarantee – an attesting to of the agreement made.  The man giving away a sandal from his own foot was the same as a signed and notarized contract in our modern times.

I had no idea when I started this 31-day journey through Ruth, today’s word would be {give} and would align perfectly with the nearer redeemer giving away his first rights to buy the land and all of Elimelech’s property (including the widow, Ruth) from Naomi.

But God knew.  He’s been leading me and teaching me all through this journey, pulling out truth from which I am able to glean wisdom for my own life.  I am abundantly grateful for this season of questioning my way through with Holy Spirit as my teacher in the word of God.

If I breeze through Ruth chapter 4 with my modern westerner mindset it is easy for me to miss the significance of the transaction and the pledge.  Though I am definitely journeying through a famine season, spiritually and even physically, I can not relate to the great cost of giving a sandal away.  It’s no big deal for me to drive a mile from my house to the nearest Dollar Tree and buy a new pair of sandals.give in pledge

Not so for the men of Bethlehem of Judah in the time of the Judges.  Giving a sandal away was surely a big deal.  A sandal was costly as it must have cost an animal’s hide.  And sandals were extremely important for people whose feet were their primary mode of transportation through a desert.  Clearly, the giving of a sandal cost the man of first rights something of significance.

Additionally, it’s interesting to me the nearer redeemer, the man with the first rights to the property, is the one who gave his sandal away.  In essence, the man paid publicly something of significant value to give away his rights.  Am I the only one or does that sound a bit counter-culture?

It does sound a whole lot like Jesus though, doesn’t it?  Jesus who paid with His life and gave up His rights as God through whom all things were created and live and breathe and through Whom we have our being?

Ponders:

  • I think I am going to need to chew on this truth for awhile… much longer than a five-minute free write.  How about you?
  • I am reminded of these words of King David in 1 Chronicles 21:24:

“No, I insist on buying it for the full price.  I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!”

  • Is there something Holy Spirit is stirring in you, as He is certainly stirring in me with regards to giving up first rights?
    • with regards to giving something away which is costly?
  • Will you ask the Lord and journal your conversation with Him regarding the cost of making a pledge?
  • I wonder if you will share something you have gleaned from God’s Word here…

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining!

~Lisa

Day 19: How {brave} are you, dear sojourner, seeking a better life in a foreign land.

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.  Ruth 1:1 esv

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Ruth 1:16 esv

The word today is {BRAVE}.

I’ve seen the word down there on the list and I’ve known all along where I’ve wanted to go with this word.  Daily in my workplace, I am amazed by beautiful women who have come from a foreign land to live in our melting pot of a town near Atlanta.  They come seeking an education for their children, and many times we struggle to communicate.  We use hand signals and point at things for clarification.  Many times the children help us translate my English to their language.

As we meet in the middle and the message becomes clear on both sides, the smiles crack open and out pops a broken English – “Thank you”.  Many times there are tears in mothers’ eyes – all they want to know is that their child will be safe with us.  They desire freedom, a better education and more opportunity for their children.pablo (93)

Almost every day I encounter a sojourner from another land…  and my words to them as we find a way to communicate with smiles and gestures…

You are a {brave} woman!

As I interact with precious sojourners learning their way in southern America, I am reminded of my childhood in South Miami.  My friends, from 2nd grade on, were most often 2nd generation Cuban.  Their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles fled from Cuba to find freedom in America.  I enjoy rich childhood memories of visiting in their homes, listening to their fluid Spanish with dramatic tones and gestures and I delighted in their delicious native foods.

And then a time came when we learned of a German doctor whose wife and children were still living trapped behind the iron curtain.  Our local church was involved in smuggling Bibles in suitcases and then suddenly someone had the idea to smuggle the woman and children out.  I sat gripped with the tension and the danger of the plot to free these desperate people.  Only by God’s grace… the smallest child was placed in a suitcase carried in one hand by the mother and with the other held her daughter’s hand… They became free sojourners in a foreign land and a reunited family.

This has nothing to do with politics so, please, let’s not even go there.  ‘Sojourners in a foreign land’ has everything to do with God though.  In His word, we who are followers of Christ are sojourners on this earth – a foreign land – for truly we are citizens of God’s Kingdom.  poppies and wheat 31 days

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  1 Peter 2:10-11 esv

Naomi, she was a sojourner in a foreign land.  God’s woman, she held to the truth she knew and shared her God with the foreign young women who shared her household and her sons.  {Brave} Naomi.

And Ruth, {brave} Ruth, choosing to go and live in a foreign land to learn the ways of her new people, her new land, her new culture and most importantly her God.  {Brave} Ruth sought shelter under the wing of Almighty God, and He received her as His own.  The Lord God showered favor on Ruth and she is one of our brave examples as we seek to be Ambassadors for Christ while we are sojourners and exiles in a strange and foreign land – planet earth.

Ponders:

I’m thinking this morning of my neighborhood friend, Besserat.  She is a sojourner here in America from the country of Eritrea.  Besserat is my mom’s age, in her 70’s, speaks English, Eritrean and sign language – possibly French as well.  She and her husband were teachers in a deaf school in Eritrea.  Now Besserat is a widow, living part-time with us here in Georgia and the rest of the year in Virginia.

Through Besserat, so outgoing and often inviting some of us into her daughter’s home for freshly roasted and brewed coffee and homemade cakes, bread and popcorn, we are also getting to know her daughter and son in law.  Our Eritrean neighbors are a true delight as they share with us the rich history and culture of their homeland.

Yet, for all our differences, One unites us and He is Christ.  When we recognize we are the family of One Father and all {brave} sojourners for the Gospel, everything changes about our perspective.  We are united and free and emboldened.

  • Who do you see in your neighborhood, workplace or church who obviously is a sojourner from another country?
  • Have you extended a hand of friendship?  What richness has been added to your life from the stories of the {brave} sojourner(s) you’ve encountered recently?
  • If you haven’t had this experience, would you pray and seek God’s face?  Would you ask Jesus to teach you what you look like as a sojourner of His Kingdom on this earth?  Will you ask Holy Spirit to make a way – to open a door of friendship with a {brave} sojourner from another land?

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

 

Day 16: What if we could {read} the script in advance?

She replied, “Wait, my daughter until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”  Ruth 3:18

As I am spending these 31 days of October reading through the book of Ruth, I am using the word prompts for each day supplied by Kate Motaung (through her Five Minute Friday community of faith writers) to give me a focus for writing each day.  Today the word I’m pondering is {read}.

I’ve {read}.  And prayed.  Asked Holy Spirit to highlight Scripture from the harvest storehouse of Ruth 3 in which to glean truth and wisdom for my own life.  31 days gleaning with Ruth – it’s not just a catchy title of a series.  I am ‘real life’ questioning my way through a famine season grateful for those who have gone before. 31 days gleaning into the night

I can just imagine you – Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz – in that great throng of witnesses on the sideline cheering me on as I participate in the role God wrote just for me in His grand narrative.

And that is exactly what I am pondering today through this one verse Ruth 3:18.  What if we were able to read the script – the grand narrative of God – in advance?  What if read for a particular role?  Would we audition for the part we have?  Would we seek the starring roles?  Or would we rather have a role in the ensemble?

I wonder these things.  (My husband is nodding along right now.)  If Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz could have read the script in advance, would they be delighted with their role?  Would it make a difference in the way they lived out their story knowing the role they would play in history?

Or is it true that the unknown plot twists and unexpected changes in the setting are what character development is really all about?

In this one short verse so much truth is gleaned today.  It’s so easy to read a history and have a false impression of the intensity, the struggle or the dramatic tension of the real-life circumstances.  We read a story from the past with full knowledge of how it all turned out.  However, for those living it day by day, having not {read} the end of the story, the full range of human emotion and struggle to persevere is real.

Naomi and Ruth did not know for sure how their redeemer story was going to turn out.  Though Naomi was raised in the culture and understood the provision of a near kinsman, the exact details were not to be controlled by her.  As Naomi instructed Ruth, Naomi too would have to wait for the outcome and trust Almighty God who had not forgotten them after all.

Ruth trusted Naomi completely and followed Naomi’s instructions to the detail.  Ruth made herself vulnerable and allowed herself to be placed in a seemingly compromising position out of her love for her mother in law and her desire to have her husband’s name prosper into the future through a near kinsman.

Boaz, it seems would be flattered by the role he received, but who could know for sure.  He seemed a gentle, kind man who had protected Ruth in the fields.  Boaz himself was not sure how the whole transaction would be completed.  Even as Boaz declared his desire to buy the land of Elimelech from Naomi and take Ruth to be his wife, there was no guarantee.  Another man, in fair dealing, would be given the first option. ( 5 minutes)Bible {read}

What about me and the part of God’s grand narrative in which I have the privilege to participate?  I’m grateful I didn’t get to {read} the script of my role in advance.  Through this famine season, I am learning to give thanks for God’s sovereignty, for His goodness and steadfast love.  Truly it is a privilege to have been created with a particular role in mind, which could only be fulfilled by my one life played out in the company of all the others with whom I share this place in history.

Grateful too, as I once heard Beth Moore say, I have a place in God’s story just past Hebrews 11:40, as one of the faithful belonging to God’s family.  You too?

Those pages are surely kept in heaven and will be read for ages to come into eternity.  For now, we are able to read the narrative of God’s first faithfulness and love for us in the past, and His good plan for the future when we will live with Him forever without death or pain or anger or hate or defiance or loss.

And in the middle, we watch and listen for His direction.  We choose to participate, persevere in each change of setting, plot twist and allow the narrative to create in us the character and resemblance of our Lord, Jesus Christ… our nearest Redeemer.

Ponders:

Reading through Ruth 3 are you willing to place yourself in a role?  How might you feel, react and what might you hope for, pray and seek if you were Naomi?  Ruth?  Boaz?

  • Would you ask Holy Spirit to teach you what Father wants you to know about your role in His narrative?
  • Will you journal what He is teaching you?  Are there specific Scriptures highlighted for you as you pray and seek wisdom and understanding for your own life?
  • Do you know that you are written in God’s narrative of the faithful (Hebrews 11)?
  • For what in your role in God’s narrative are you thankful?  Who are the people who assist you in your role?  Who is God pointing to whom you might be able to assist in their role?

What if you could read the script of the rest of your life?  Would you want to or is it better to trust the narrative to an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present and unconditionally loving God and Father.

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining.

~Lisa

Day 14: If at first I don’t succeed, will I {try, try} again?

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.  Ruth 3:1 niv

{try} to make an attempt at, to put to test or trial, to subject to something (such as undue strain or excessive hardship or provocation) that tests the powers of endurance – courtesy of Webster’s online dictionary.pablo (70)

Reading again through the book of Ruth, asking Holy Spirit to highlight for me what He wants me to know about this word {try}, I see it from a perspective I’ve not recognized before now.

Naomi’s family tried to remove themselves from hardship during a time of famine.

Naomi tried to convince her daughters-in-law to return to their families and culture – their gods.

Once Ruth refused to leave Naomi, they returned together to Bethlehem in Judah to try to find a new life for themselves.

Ruth took over and asked to try to glean in the fields during the harvest season.

Ruth tried to fit in with her new home, new people, new culture.  She tried to follow the ways of God’s people.  She tried to honor her dead husband’s mother.

Ruth tried her best to provide for her mother-in-law, Naomi.

And then, suddenly it’s Naomi’s turn to try again.  In my old NIV Study Bible (1985), Ruth 3:1 reads this way:

One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?

It’s hard to try again sometimes.  You know… when you tried already and you thought you were doing the best thing you could do for yourself and for those you love.  When you tried and nothing worked out like it was supposed to… when you look around and seems lost.  Failure in the trying looms large over us when we tried…really tried, and gave our best.

It’s hard to keep trying after failure because… well, my next trying might also end in failure.  And, who wants to feel like a failure?  Who wants to fail?  I know you can’t see me, but I am raising both hands and jumping up and down – me, me, ME!  I don’t want to be a failure!

However, what I am gleaning this morning from Ruth and Naomi, is a transformational truth for this place in my own life.  When Naomi felt like a failure, and probably – maybe – didn’t have the energy to {try} anymore, Ruth stepped in with a fresh willingness to {try}.  (5 minutes)pablo (81).png

And after the harvest season was over, when Ruth had worked hard and provided for Naomi, we see a beautiful renewal of energy from Naomi.  It’s as if Ruth’s perseverance through the trial, emboldened by God’s overshadowing favor on Ruth, breathed new life into Naomi.  For the first time in a long time, it appears Naomi found HOPE.

I need this life-giving lesson for my own famine season as I {try} my best to do what I can do day in and day out.  I need to recognize that my {trying}, my persevering under trying circumstances, might just be breathing life into the one beside me who is having difficulty finding hope for our future.

O Lord, may it be so… cover us Father with Your wing, embolden me to {try} again each day, and breathe life into the man I love and bring to life HOPE for our future.  In Your holy and mighty name, Jesus.  For Your glory, Lord, I submit myself to these trying times.

Ponders:

You might be familiar with this old proverb attributed to William Edward Hickson (1803-1870).

’Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.

  • It seems this proverb has been deeply ingrained in our American culture of just working harder, smarter.  However, as we ponder the word of God, is this a proverb Scripture supports?
  • As you pray and ask Holy Spirit for revelation of truth, what Scriptures come to mind?  Will you write them in your journal?  Will you choose one in particular to pray through in a famine season when it seems to hard to keep trying?

The few Scriptures Holy Spirit brought to my mind (I hope you’ll add others) are these:

James 1:2-3   Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Romans 12:2  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

1 Peter 1:6-7  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.

John 17:15-19  (Jesus’ prayer for us)  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

I pray you are encouraged to try, try again – under the protective wing of Father God, with His Spirit living in you, and the word of God, Jesus Himself, firmly grasping your will day by day.

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining!

~Lisa

 

 

Day 13: Who will I {invite} to the table?

And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.”  So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain.  And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.”  Ruth 2:14

{Invite}  to request the presence or participation of in a kindly, courteous, or complimentary way, especially to request to come or go to some place, gathering, entertainment, etc., or to do something: to invite friends to dinner.  (Dictionary.com)

Just this morning, pondering the word {invite} my eyes have landed on this somewhat obscure passage in Ruth 2, the 14th verse.  It’s the invitation.  An invitation to lunch.  Reading the definition from dictionary.com and thinking with my modern, western cultural mindset, the invitation invokes a smile and a southern, “Oh, how sweet!” response… Bless her heart!

However, as I pray and look again at God’s Word, this scene doesn’t appear normal.  It seems somewhat unusual – even scandalous – a bit.  The man who owns the field, the near kinsman, extended an invitation to a foreigner and a woman.

The scene here reminds me of many eyebrow-raising dinner invitations Jesus offered and accepted.  Jesus invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner one day.  On other occasions Jesus ate in the homes of tax collectors, sinners, the unclean and he shared meals in the company of women.

{Invite}  – the near Kinsman invited Ruth to join the reapers at the table for a meal.  She was invited to eat until satisfied.  And she was welcome to take with her the leftovers for her mother in law, Naomi.pablo (77)

I’ve been invited to the table.  Many years ago, as a young professional and somewhat of a foreigner to the church, a man – a manager, a boss – invited me to the Friday morning table.  He bought me a Bible, and he extended an invitation to come to sit at the table with other Jesus followers.

I gladly received his invitation.  But on that first Friday walking in with my brand new Bible I felt awkward.  They were all comfortable at this table.  I wasn’t sure where to sit.  I had nothing to say, but I listened.  Someone helped me turn the pages to find the place where we would feast that day until satisfied, and amazingly I had some leftovers to take with me and share with someone else.  (5 minutes)

Again, I am reminded of Ruth’s great grandson’s words in Psalm 34 – an invitation.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

And then, most assuredly the greatest invitation of all, the invitation of our Redeemer, our Bridegroom…  to the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”  Revelation 19:9 esv

Ponders:

One of my favorite activities is to invite others to share in an activity with me.  If I want to take a walk, I invite someone to come along.  I love to invite a friend(s) to meet me for lunch or coffee.  Rather than assume, I even like to invite my husband to dinner and a movie (at home).

I don’t see inviting others as a specific gift listed in the Bible, but we are called to be hospitable.  At a specific point in time, I asked the Lord to teach me what it means to be hospitable and to show me what that looks like for me.  May I encourage you today… our Father is so good and faithful to answer our prayers when we ask Him to teach us.

  • Is the Lord inviting you to the table today?  Will you accept His invitation to dine with Him and to listen to Him and learn from Him?
  • Will you in turn invite someone else to the table?  Will you help a stranger to Jesus meet Him?  Will you introduce someone to Jesus today?  I’m taking the challenge myself to invite someone to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’.

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining!

Today I have accepted the invitation of Kate Motaung to participate with the Five Minute Friday community to write on the Friday word prompt {invite}.  Thank you, Kate, for offering 31 word prompts for our 31-day writing challenge.  What a blessing!

Day 12: Before I was formed, did you {write} my story?

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!   Psalm 139:16-17

I was pondering the word for today {write} from Kate’s list of 31 Five-Minute Friday prompts, and reading again through Ruth I saw two paths for this word {write}.  I pondered and I read and I chewed on various Scriptures.

One train of thought – God writes His Word on our hearts.  Jeremiah 31:33.  Another train of thought led me toward Psalm 139 – all the days for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  poppies and wheat 31 days

I prayed.  I added the Scripture above to my post last night.  I went to sleep believing Holy Spirit would speak to me about His direction this morning.  As my alarm went off at 5:30 AM and I silently awoke to the Lord’s thoughts for me today, the words of a song on the radio next to our bed pierced my consciousness.  She was singing the words to Psalm 139.  I’ll have to research later today to find this beautiful song.  What’s clear to me this morning is that God has a story to write today.  He had already written it.

Psalm 139 – Was this true of Ruth?  I have to be honest this morning, it kind of blows me away with excitement the Psalm was written by Ruth’s great-grandson, David.

Is this true of me?  You?

I think this might be the essence of faith.  Do I believe I was God’s idea?  Do I believe, as God was writing His grand narrative of all creation, God decided to create me?

What does it mean – all my days were written in His book before I was formed?  And what about free will?  I wonder if I am the only one who feels a prick in my flesh when I ponder the idea of God writing my story.  The “hey, that’s not fair” prick that somehow feels cheated if I don’t get to write my own story.

In the book of Ruth (I’m still marinating in chapters 1 & 2), I see a foreigner, an outsider, who was purposely chosen by God to know Him, to be adopted into His family, and to become a mother, grandmother and eventually great-grandmother of a king.  She couldn’t possibly have known the story her creator was writing – had already written – for her life.

Yet, I see Ruth – called by name by God to be His own.  It is tempting to believe Ruth chose God as we read her famous words to Naomi.  “Your God will be my God.”  But here, Ruth is using the formal name of God.  To me, it is as if Ruth doesn’t know Him yet.  She’s been introduced by Naomi.  Maybe if Ruth goes to Bethlehem with Naomi, she will meet her God.  Maybe she’ll be accepted in…

But God has already written the story Ruth cannot fully see because she’s living in the middle of it.  Later, as we listen in on Ruth’s conversation with Boaz, we catch a glimpse of the budding relationship between Ruth and God.  God is becoming personal to Ruth through her interpersonal relationships with God’s people.  Through Boaz (someone other than Naomi) Ruth learned she truly had found favor with God’s people and God Himself.  Ephesians 1

Her story – Ruth’s – was being written moment by moment.  She had free will.  And yet her story – the days ordained for her had been written (by God) before any of them came to be.  I don’t come close to grasping this truth.  However, I receive this truth for myself.  In this truth, I am filled with hope, joy, and peace believing my life was chosen, my story was written by my creator and I was God’s idea to be included in His story.

Before I was formed, my Creator wrote my story.  It must be GOOD.

Ponders:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12  

After reviewing 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 and reading the whole of Psalm 139 I wonder what Holy Spirit wants you and me to know about the idea of God being the author of our story.  I think I am going to chew on these truths for a while.  How about you?

  • Will you enter into a conversation with Jesus?  Lord Jesus, what do You want me to know for my life?  I recognize in Hebrews 12 You are referred to as the author of my faith.  In Isaiah, You have chosen me and called me by name.  Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening.
  • Will you ponder and journal the Author’s response?  Will you allow Holy Spirit to write the Word of God on your heart?  This is the way of true transformation and with it comes peace in knowing you belong to the One who fashioned you and is continuing to fashion you after His own heart.    For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.  And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Jeremiah 31:33
  • I wonder if you might share in a comment something the Lord, the Author of your life and faith, is revealing to you at this place on your journey.  I appreciate you adding value to our conversation.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

Day 11: {Remember} when… ?

 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.  She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

“Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”  So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”  Ruth 2:17-20

{Remember}

To recall, be reminded of, look back.  To remember is a purposeful choosing.  It’s an action step on our journey toward our forever home.  And I am mindful today, remembering is a privilege.

pablo (70)

On this day 11 of our 31-day journey through Ruth, it seems fitting to take a rest stop and {remember}.

We began to walk with Naomi during a famine… and now she is experiencing harvest.

Naomi lost her husband and two sons to death in a foreign land… and now she is experiencing ‘family’ with Ruth and her kinspeople back at home in Judah.

Naomi changed her name to bitter – Mara… and now she is blessing Boaz as pleasant – Naomi.

Naomi poured out her heart and held out empty hands in her grief… and now she has her heart filled with the love of a daughter and holds out hands to receive abundant grain provision.

Naomi declared her inability to provide for her daughters in law… now she offers Ruth a home, a people, and most important the One True Almighty God.

Naomi’s life, understandably after such great loss, seemed doomed and hopeless.  She had lost everything… except God had never left her.  In a sense, she and her family may have left God.  They may have believed they could make a plan of escape for themselves and avoid the famine season.

However, I believe God wants us to know there’s a desert walk, a famine season, a wilderness experience on every one of our paths toward HOME.  God intends this part of our life experience to be purposeful.  It’s part of our pioneer training.  He leads us into it for our good – for our strengthening.desert plants

 

I was reminded this past weekend… Jesus, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.  If the wilderness experience was a part of Jesus’ training, strengthening and considered purposeful by the Father, why wouldn’t I think the same is true for me?

Lord Jesus, help me {remember} to put my eyes on You today.  Help me to {remember} to follow You wherever You are walking and to stop and rest with You too.  You are my Great Pioneer of faith.  You are my Good Shepherd.  I want to follow You.  Thank You for reminding me to sing of Your goodness, to meditate on Your faithfulness in Your Word, and to recount Your abundant benefits and blessings I’ve received in my own life.

I bless You, Lord, O my soul and all that is within me.  I bless Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 

Ponders:

Below is a portion of Psalm 77:  a prayer of anguish in the dark night where sleep will not be found.  Let’s read through this Psalm either recognizing this scenario as our current circumstances all too familiar or {remember}ing a time in the past – a season of our lives when this could have been our own prayer.

  • How good is it to cry aloud to the Lord?  Have you?  What release did you experience when you poured your heart out before the Lord?  Do you think this is what Jesus meant by casting our cares on Him?
  • The psalmist writes, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.”  Do you have a go-to hymn or praise song for the middle of the dark night?  Have you memorized certain Scripture on which to meditate, repeat, chew on during the long night of anguish?
  • From Psalm 77 and from your own experience, what happens to us as we begin to {remember}?  When we begin to sing that song in the dark?  When we begin to repeat the Scripture we know?  Or maybe the only word we can eek out in despair is the Name above all names, Jesus, what happens to our soul?
  • If you haven’t made use of God’s limitless resources, His amazing benefits – will you begin today?  If you are in this season, just choose to remember God’s goodness in the past.  If you have come out of that season, maybe now is a good time to remember, the dryness, the pain, the wandering, and then the good and loving way your Shepherd led you through safely.
  • This is your testimony.  This is the story of your life God is writing.  Will you write it down?  Will you share something of your own experience with {remember}ing the goodness of the Lord?

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

 

You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.

I said,“Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
We give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever! Amen.

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

 

 

Day 6: How do I know my {story} has significance?

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.  I Thessalonians 5:11 msg

The book of Ruth is full of individual people simply living their lives while under God’s direction, and in His Sovereignty, their life circumstances became stories of experience.  And it was through the sharing of their stories a woman was introduced to the love and redemption of God, another was redeemed from hopelessness and a family name and lineage was preserved and ultimately became the lineage of Christ.

Just in the first two chapters of the book of the Ruth, it is evident sharing stories brought hope and encouragement.  Naomi heard.  Ruth heard.  The people of Judah heard.  Boaz heard.  As they heard, they were each moved to action.  Naomi heard the famine was over and went home.  Ruth heard and chose Naomi’s God for herself.  The people of Judah heard and welcomed Naomi home and embraced her foreign daughter in law as one of their own.  Boaz heard and offered safety and provision.{story}.png

Truly amazed once again, as I glean again in the harvest fields of God’s word in Ruth this morning, at the power of our story.  And freshly encouraged by what I already know is true, I am inspired (I hope you are too) to persevere in sharing my story as it is pertinent and the door of opportunity is opened before me.

I’m embarrassed to confess this, but sometimes I am tempted to believe my work doesn’t really matter for the Kingdom of God.  I’m just a receptionist, you know.  It seems surely I could make a bigger impact if I was a real writer of books or a speaker to groups gathered to hear Truth.  (I know, believe me, I am so embarrassed to confess this in public)

And then I hear myself at work sharing my life story with person after person standing in front of me seeking an answer to a question.  I have begun to realize God has given me a place to share my story – a hundred different snippets of mothering, marriage, aging parents, time management and priorities in faith, work, family, and so on and so on.

I realize just this school year, I’ve encouraged countless mothers with pictures and stories of my own two sons, who attended this same school years ago, with the truth – “Yes, they do grow up.”  I’ve laughed and pointed to the trendy gray streaks in my hair as evidence it hasn’t been easy, but “You’ll get there, mom, I promise!”

Recently, I rejoiced with someone whose family member came out of a coma and offered condolences to those who are grieving and encouraged someone to enjoy their aging mother more than worry about getting work done.share your story

God set this stage for me.  I realize even as I type this, He has given me what I’ve longed for all along – a place to interact with people, their stories and mine shared together to create community.  It doesn’t look like the stage I would have designed for myself, but I receive it as a true gift from God.  May I be faithful in stewardship over the position and privilege He has given me.

Our life stories intricately woven together by God become the beautiful, colorful pattern of His-story.  As we glean from Ruth, our story in His story has an eternal impact.

May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”  Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.  The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. Ruth 4:15 – 17 nlt

Ponders:

  • Do you know your life is a significant story?
    • What does Jesus want you to know about your story?  Will you ask Him for His view of how your life impacts your corner of the world for His Kingdom purposes?
  • What aspect of your life story are you most likely to share?
    • In what format or setting do you most enjoy sharing your story with others?  Do you find that others open up and share too when you begin to share your story?
  • Do you avoid sharing your life story because of a difficult chapter or two?
    • Are you able to identify the reasons why you feel your story can’t be shared?
    • Are there feelings of guilt, shame or unworthiness tied to your story?
    • Since the word of God tells us we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony –
      • what might Jesus want to reveal to you about
        • the power of His blood to redeem any story – even yours
        • the importance of your story
        • the power of your story redeemed as a result of His sacrifice
    • Would you be willing to ask God to open the door of opportunity for you to share your story?
      • What’s the worst thing that could happen by sharing your story?
      • Is it worth the risk?

 

Day 3 – Why do I ever doubt God will {create} a way where there seems to be nothing?

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and 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 even death separates you and me.” 

So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.  Ruth 1:16-17 & 22

In the English dictionary, {create} means to bring (something) into existence. To {create} is to produce, fabricate, make, fashionbuild, or construct.{create}

In Hebrew (had to ask for a tutorial in BLB from my dear Bible-nerd friend, Kaitlin Miller) {create} has similar qualities, however with more depth of meaning and not limited to physical construction.  For example:

In English, we tend to think of creating as something we accomplish with our own creative mind, hands, talent, and skill.  Whereas the Hebrew word (Qal) indicates specifically, God is always the subject – to shape, fashion, create

  • the tangibles – the physical – heaven, earth and individual man
  • and the intangibles – new conditions, circumstances and transformations

As in Psalm 51:10Create in me a pure (clean) heart, O God – {create} in this verse actually means for God to shape, fashion, create, make or form a new heart out of nothing.  It’s not a renovation or re-fashioning of the old – fixing it up or patchwork.No, it is King David (great-grandson of Ruth) asking God to create and give him a new, freshly-breathed heart, which has never existed before.  In a fresh way, I wonder this morning if this is why God called David a man after His own heart.

I (God) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 

And with all of these thoughts percolating through my brain this morning, I sit completely in awe of my God.  He who created our earth home – the tangibles and intangibles – He knew from before the foundation of this earth He would create, form, fashion a woman named Ruth.leviticus foreigners

Ruth – a Moabitess.  A foreigner.  How would she have ever had an opportunity to know about the One True God except that Naomi and her family moved out of their homeland and into Moab?

I’m in awe because I tend to think Elimelech made a mistake moving his family from their home (in a sense running from God) trying to escape the famine.  The GOODNESS of God washes over me afresh this morning as I contemplate the intricate details God had already thought of and established – the Law He created to take care of foreigners among His people.

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.  Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.  Leviticus 19:34

I focus in on the loving-kindness of God to {create} a way for Ruth where seemingly there was no way for her to be in the genealogy of King David and ultimately of Christ, our Savior.  And Naomi as well – even if she and her husband mistakenly left their homeland of Judah – God did a work in Naomi.  God took her ashes and created beauty from them.

I am amazed anew at God who takes my mistakes and messes and imperfect scenarios and creates something new.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for creating in me new eyes to see Your ways are not my ways.  Hold my heart in Your Hands, God, and breathe it new so no root of bitterness might grow in my heart.  Breathe me new.  Create me new, my God.

I am the Lord, your Holy One,
    Israel’s Creator, your King.”
This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

 

Ponders:

  • Perhaps with a new perspective on create, is there anything you would like to ask God to fashion new in you?
  • Could it be a tangible creation or even an intangible creation – a transformation of your life?  Or possibly a creation of circumstances – fresh from the Hand of God?
  • Which of the scriptures above touches your heart for a particular purpose in your pondering with God today?
  • What other truth of God’s word might speak to your desire to be created new today?
  • Will you write it down and ask Jesus to sort it through with you today in the power of His Holy Spirit?

I bless you today to receive something created new from God as you seek the face of Jesus.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re shining!

~Lisa