Parting the Clouds of Your Soul

Photographer: Jay Brazel

I’ve been feeling so blue for the past few months. It has been an unexpectedly hard year. I suppose most hard times are unexpected. We’ve dealt with serious illness, lost income, ministry challenges, car accidents, injury, etc. Stuff that everyone deals with. It’s just that we haven’t had a break and it started to really get to me. It was getting to my mind, my thoughts, my outlook on life, confidence in myself and my daily attitude. I was frustrated because I generally do struggle with feeling down alot and I didn’t need these extra stressors in my life.

A few weeks ago I just broke down. I couldn’t take the stress. I’ll admit. I threw a HUGE pity party! Attendance: me. Games: BYOT (Bring your own Tissue)

That Sunday when we woke up late for church and decided to head to our sister church’s service instead since we could make that one relatively on time. Boy was it a blessing! I felt like the message was for me. The pastor spoke about dealing with the twin realities of God’s goodness and life’s troubles. Ever struggle with that one?

What I learned was that I was focusing too much on my circumstances and less on who God is. I KNEW that we’re not supposed to do that. I KNEW that God is good not matter what… but why was it so hard in the midst of these trials to trust Him? I have to admit I was asking God “why this was happening?” a lot. Along with the good ole’ “What was He trying to teach me?”. I happen to think that it’s okay to ask God “why” as long as you really want to learn from the answer.

Here’s the thing I learned:

1. Who God is IS NOT DEFINED by Life’s Circumstances

in other words…

2. God is who He says He is, not who we think He is
3. We can bless God in the midst of challenges because we are enthralled with the beauty of who God is and not because of what is happening around us. He never changes.

So I got my answer and I’m thus (yes I said thus) grateful for these past challenges. It showed me that even though the rainstorm and the clouds hover over us, the secret to keeping Sonshine in our hearts is to bless God for who He is and not not focus on the ever changing circumstances of life.

I still have to remind myself every day (every hour of the day) to bless God when my feelings dip, but it is freeing to know I can coax a lighter heart into my chest by refocusing on who God is.

Here is the link to that sermon.

God Bless

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Courage for a New Life

Today I woke up and asked God to show me more about His sovereignty. I don’t know about you but I’m always rolling around questions of God’s sovereignty versus our actions…blah, blah, blah. Anyway I picked up my daily bible (in which I’m still on the March reading) and started reading about Ruth. While I was reading I was literally thinking is this story just a story? Is it an insight into the biological line that would bring forth Christ or can I learn a deeper lesson today? God’s thoughts are definately not mine because as I began to read further about Boaz I was struck that the character of Boaz was so immensly kind to Ruth. She had favor with him and he made provision for her. Although I had heard that Boaz’s job as the kinsman redeemer is likened unto the character of God it didn’t really resonate with me until today. Boaz does several things to protect her. Boaz tells Ruth to gather what was left by the reapers only in his field, that he has told the men not to touch her, and he offers her plenty of food and shade. In fact he tells the men harvesting to purposefully leave extra stalks of barley on the ground for her to pick up.

In case you don’t know the story, Ruth is a Moabite woman who follows her mother in law back to Israel after her husband and her father-in-law die in Moab. She takes care of her mother in law, Naomi and accepts the God of Israel as her own God. Naomi’s reputation of hard work and dedication reach the ear of Boaz who is a distant relative of Naomi. According to the Law the nearest male relative must take care of the widows of that particular family. That is role of the kinsman redeemer. Also according to the law in Israel the poor could “glean” in the fields by picking up what was left by the reapers for food.

Ruth made the sacrifice of her old life for a new life with Naomi and to follow her God, who is the one true God. She went into a new place and it was hard at first…very hard. But God provided for her through Boaz. Like Boaz telling the men not to touch her, and the women to accept her, God will go before you and prepare the hearts of those you will come into contact with. As Boaz provided shade, protection and food, God will also provide all of your needs (Phillipians 4:19).  God provided Ruth with a gentle, generous and powerful kinsman redeemer who gave her a family, a home, and a chance to be part of the greatest legacy ever which is Christ’s birth! Just as God has done this for Ruth He has done this for us in Jesus Himself, who is our redeemer from having to pay for our own sin. This story is full of so much of God’s love for us!

My next question is what about Ruth? Did her choices play a part in any of this? We do not earn God’s favor but Ruth made a choice that her sister in law Orpah did not make. Orpah after losing her husband (Naomi’s other son) chose to stay back in the land of Moab instead of leaving and going with Ruth and Naomi. She stayed in a place she was familiar with yet she did not receive the challenges, or the blessings that Ruth received as far as we know. Ruth was able to take advantage of the redeeming law of a people not her own because she left what was familiar to her. Ruth had the courage and faith to leave what she knew and embrace Naomi’s God as her own. What god was Ruth leaving behind? Chemosh was the national deity of the Moabites whose name most likely meant “destroyer,” “subduer,” or “fish god.” This god required brutal human sacrifice to appease it. Isn’t it interesting that Ruth would play a part in bringing forth the son of God who would be the final sacrifice for all of mankind? Ruth made the choice to embrace a God, the road was long and difficult, the work was hard in the fields, but God was there all along, and she reaped the reward of her work and obedience, while God provided the opportunities and resources.

Be encouraged today to take have the faith to embrace God and leave your past behind. The road will not be easy but you will have a kinsman redeemer looking out for you!

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