Chapter Three: “A Wow of a Vow”
If you’re new to our online study of The Girl’s Still Got It, welcome! You’ll find Weeks 1 and 2 on my website blog. Set your own pace and join us whenever you can.
When Ruth opened her mouth to speak, she definitely had something to say, didn’t she? Verse 1:16 is a beautiful, powerful declaration of love and commitment. This week we’ll walk through those vows with Ruth and see how they apply to our own lives. (Can I just say how glad I am we’re leaving Moab in the dust?! Thanks for your prayers, by the way. I’m praying about your Moabs as well.)
Moving on with anticipation…
1. a. To whom in your life could you gladly say, “Where you go I will go”? What might compel you to do so? Love? Duty? Compassion? Faith?
I’ve pledged to follow my husband till death us do part, compelled by all of the above, especially love. I lost my mother when I was 23, and my father when I was 46, so any duties there have sadly ended. If I were suddenly widowed (please, may it not be so, Lord!), I’m less certain whom I would gladly follow. Could I move to a much smaller town and live with my elderly in-laws? Care for them? Nurse them? Gulp. I would need a clear calling from the Lord (and a huge gifting of mercy) before I could do so with gladness. Not because I don’t love and cherish my in-laws—I absolutely do—but because of what I would be required to leave behind. Aye, there’s the rub.
Now read Matthew 4:18–22. Why did these four men follow Jesus? How does their example challenge you?
Three things really stand out in these verses, all of which convict me. After Peter, Andrew, James, and John were called by Jesus, they immediately responded. They dropped what they were doing. And they followed him. Why? Because he loved them, and they knew it. Because he spoke with authority, and they heard it. Because he offered them far more than a net full of fish, and they believed it. How am I challenged? Oh, let me count the ways. My days are often spent running around trying to catch fish on my own, then throwing them at Jesus’ feet and saying, “Look what I did for you!” Lord, please help me be a true disciple: someone who listens for your voice, then responds without hesitation, rather than turning back like you-know-who.
1. b. Despite Naomi’s bitterness, Ruth assures her, “Where you stay I will stay.” Think of a time when you shared a room with someone—whether for a week at a convention or for a semester at college—and it didn’t go well. What did you learn about yourself in the process?
Ugh. I learned that I’m not as easy to get along with as I thought. The temptation is to focus on how the other person needs to change. It’s much harder to say, “Here’s what I need to do differently,” especially if it’s something that other person has already pointed out. Like so many sins, this one boils down to pride. Hmm. I’m feeling a stiff neck coming on…
When it comes to living beneath the same roof with others, what counsel do Proverbs 16:7 and Romans 12:18 provide?
The verse in Proverbs is (surprise) exceedingly wise. If I focus on pleasing the Lord, I’ll be far easier to live with. And the Romans passage about doing everything I can to promote peace makes sense not only in our household, but in the greater world as well.
1. c. Ruth takes her commitment a step further, telling Naomi, “Your people will be my people.” What does Jesus require of his followers, as recorded in Matthew 10:37–39?
Ruth definitely lives out this passage. The question is, can I? My parents may be gone, yet my son and daughter are very much alive. Do I love the Lord more than I love them? Do I? The tears in my eyes are answer enough. What is the cross you would have me carry, Jesus? In your Word you promise, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29 Does that mean you walk beside us, yoked with us? Lord, I truly hope so. These words are almost more than I can bear. I’m not afraid of death. But I am afraid of losing the life I’m living. Even so, I can sense you gently loosening my fingers. Let go. Trust me.
And in Luke 18:29–30, what does Jesus promise those who leave behind loved ones for God’s sake?
Oh, this is good news. All will be restored and more, plus eternal life awaits us. But the sacrifice comes first. No getting around that. Ask any missionary who, like Ruth, left behind family and friends to follow God’s call. It isn’t easy, they’re quick to say. But it’s worth it.
2. a. Naomi grew up knowing the God of Israel, while Ruth, raised among a pagan people, committed her life to God as an adult. In what ways might when and how we meet the Lord shape our relationship with him?
I met the Lord at age 27. As an adult woman, my relationship with the Lord began not so much as parent to child, but as groom to bride. I clung to verses like Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name.” Because of God’s Word, which I was (obviously) old enough to read on my own, I was certain of his love, and quickly responded to it. How very different it must be for those who commit their lives to Christ at 8. Or at 48. Or at 88. Can’t wait to hear your answer to this one!
2. b. Read Deuteronomy 6:6–9, noting those things that Naomi might have done to share her faith with Ruth.
Impress God’s commandments on your children.
It seems very likely Naomi would have continued to teach her sons about the God of Israel and, in the process, instruct her daughters-in-law as well.
Talk about them when you sit at home.
The ancients loved to tell the stories of their people, of Abraham, of Moses. Naomi surely kept those stories alive as they sat sharing their meals, using them to teach God’s truth.
Talk about them when you walk along the road.
Everything required walking—going to the well, going to a neighbor’s house to visit, going to market to barter for goods. Naomi could have made God the center of their conversations as the family traveled on foot.
Talk about them when you lie down.
When better to review God’s commands than just before bedtime?
Talk about them when you get up.
We have morning devotions, right? It’s likely Naomi and her family began the day in a similar way, calling upon God through prayer.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your forehead.
For centuries Jewish believers have literally tied God’s Word on their hands and around their heads. Verses from the Torah are written on kosher parchment and placed inside leather boxes with leather straps, which are then attached to their arms/hands and to their foreheads. Though this practice didn’t begin until the third or fourth century BC, the symbolism of keeping God’s Word near at hand and on our minds is timeless.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses.
As I suggested (slightly tongue in cheek) on page 49, “Maybe Naomi carved those words into their tent poles in Moab or painted them across their goatskin walls.” Well, she could have.
Write them on your gates.
I’ve been to many a devout home that had Joshua 24:15 on a plaque by the door: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Among all those Moabite houses, it’s possible Naomi found some way to distinguish her home.
Which of these ancient methods might I incorporate in my life today? I have decided to meditate on a verse of God’s Word just before I fall asleep and reflect on it again the moment I wake up. Just put it by my bed, ready to read. I’ll let you know next week how that’s going. I’m kinda excited about it!
As for some new, twenty-first-century ways to share my faith with others, I’ve realized over the years that living out my faith is even more effective than talking about it all the time. Love first, help first, serve first, then acknowledge the Lord. People are far more likely to listen. I sure was.
3. a. Read the following passages, and note what each one has to say about death for those who live for God:
Romans 4:25 Since Christ was “raised to life for our justification,” we can be assured we will be raised to life as well, and justified by Christ alone.
John 5:24 This is thrilling!He who hears and believes 1) “has eternal life,” meaning right now, and 2) “has crossed over from death to life.” Not will cross over, but has crossed over. Wow. And I didn’t miss the amazing truth sandwiched in the middle: we “will not be condemned.” Best. News. Ever.
2 Corinthians 4:10 His death and his life are revealed in us. I’m thinking of Paul’s words to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 .
Revelation 2:10 This promise is very sobering: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Oh, may we be found that faithful! I’m picturing Stephen as he was about to be stoned: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God…” Acts 7:55
3. b. Ruth, Saul, Jonathan, and David are among those who gave God permission to punish them if they failed to honor their vows. Why do you think they made such bold statements? Was it courage? Chutzpah? Or something else entirely?
I think it was their absolute faith in God and in his ability to strengthen and guide them until their vows were fulfilled. They weren’t counting on their own virtue, but on his. Regarding courage, I love this passage from 2 Samuel 7:27: “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer.” Courage stems from God’s efforts on our behalf, not our efforts on his behalf.
In what situation could you imagine saying such a thing (without trembling in your boots!)?
Oh my. I have never asked God to punish me if I break my vow to him. Does that mean I lack the faith to speak those words? Or am I too afraid of failing him? For now, I’ll meditate on 1 John 5:3: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” It seems a fitting place to begin.
Your turn, beloved: kindly share something your found meaningful in Chapter Three of The Girl’s Still Got It or from Ruth 1:14-18. I’ll be eager to hear what you’ve learned.
Next up is Chapter Four, “Throw Out the Welcome Mat.” Give it a read, answer the three Study Guide questions, then pop on here next Wednesday and share your discoveries.
We gotta keep meeting like this!
Your sister, Liz
It’s such a blessing to be able to read your thoughts about the study questions! I’m thankful that God has given you the gift of communicating His Word in easy to understand dialog. And that you share that with us!
“2a…. In what ways might when and how we meet the Lord shape our relationship with him?” I, too, met the Lord as a young woman (30) so I can relate to all of the Bad Girl stuff and gratefully feel his grace & mercy everyday. New every morning!
How I love that Scripture from Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Always makes me want to burst out in song! Thanks so much for sharing, Betsy.
HI Liz! Wow…some of this week’s questions struck a nerve. My husband was assigned to work out of state for 8-9 months in the Spring. I knew the Lord was calling me to pursue other things myself so I quit my job and “temporarily relocated” with him. However, things did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. How I regret the complaining I did! I want to not only willingly and cheerfully follow my husband, but I want to willingly and cheerfully follow Christ without hesitation. I accepted Him as a child, but came to really know and understand Him as a young adult. I try to share Him with others by action and words. It can be a challenge, but I try and look for opportunities. Too often I fail to recognize or acknowledge them, But, those powerful words of 2 Cor 4:10 (which I know I have read but have never touched my heart the way they did this time) are not etched in my heart:
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
Thanks and God bless YOU!
Your words of wisdom through experience are so helpful, Laurel. What a training ground those months must have been for your spiritually. Interesting length of time, 9 months: exactly what’s required for a new birth! And I’m glad those words are “now” etched in your heart. A life-changing way of looking at things, isn’t it? Bless you for participating in our study!
Thank you for reminding us that it is not always easy to follow…and certainly not always easy to follow Jesus Christ! But you are so right; our attitudes mean so much, and we don’t want to live with regrets. Thank you!
I meant “NOW” etched in my heart, but perhaps the Holy Spirit was saying they were “NOT” etched in my heart. Well, you better believe I will remember them now. 😉
Don’t you love how God works? I truly believe he has a sense of humor!
It’s a good thing he has a sense of humor or I’m in trouble! 🙂
I totally agree that living your life in front of your loved ones and people around you has a far more better impact than preaching to them. If they don’t see in you, it turns them off. I also am learning the hard way that keeping my eyes focused on God will make it easier for other people to live with me. I find that as soon as i stop looking up everything starts to go down hill fast.
Kelly, that is one quotable quote: “as soon as I stop looking up, everything starts to go downhill”…brilliant. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
I love how God always meets us not only where we are, but also WHEN we are! (His timing is perfect!). When I read question 1b about sharing a room with someone, I had just had some minor issues with my coworker over the classroom that we share! The phrase in Rom. 12:18- “as far as it depends on you live at peace with everyone” really spoke to me. I could make these minor issues major, but I choose to be the peacemaker….that is my prayer today! Thanks Liz for sharing your heart with all of us!
I almost said,. ‘Right on, Tina!” Dating myself a bit there. ;>) But you ARE so right: “God meets us WHEN we are.” Love it. And hooray for peacemaking!
I’d be right there with you with the “right on”! (with our years come wisdom- right?)
How true that God meets us “when” we are. What a great comment. And isn’t it amazing as we read the comments others wrote, how different lessons and convictions stand out to each one of us. Although we are all reading the same passages of scripture and doing the same Bible study, God speaks individually to each person what He wants them to learn right now. This Bible study on Ruth has been awesome for me. God bless you, Tina, as you continue to study God’s truth.
Thanks for your encouraging words Krista! Blessings to you too!
What really left an impression upon me is that I, too, assume that certain people are not interested in what I have to offer (Jesus). And it doesn’t have to be someone from a different country…it can be a family member….
For me, it would be my husband who I will follow…like you, I question who I would chose if he were gone. I am thankful that I have him…
Annette, whoever wrote these Study Guide questions (smile), she sure is making us THINK! Thanks for participating and wrestling with these important issues. My prayer is that we’ll all come out knowing the Lord better, knowing his Word better, and knowing ourselves better.
I really don’t know where to start my comment from. I haven’t gotten my copy of ‘The Girl’s Still Got It’, yet, Amazon still hasn’t got it delivered, but joining this study is giving me a sneak peek into what I knew I was going to enjoy, anyway. The questions have touched a lot of ‘hot spots’ in my life. Loosing my dad just as I was about to graduate from high school was one ‘thrown-in-the-deep-end-when-I-really-can’t-swim’ experience for me, which meant I had to find God for myself (considering he was my first class ticket to knowing God). I remember saying to God the night after I found out he (my dad) had an accident, ‘Dear God, now I really know I have to make it to heaven, cos that’s the only way I’ll see my dad again’. But it’s amazing the irony of the end of the story: while chasing my earthly father, I met my Heavenly Father, who proved to be the best person to chase after all!
I remember having to let go of someone I loved so dearly because somewhere inside my heart, I knew he wasn’t God’s will for me. We both hurt so bad, because we couldn’t understand what reasons there would have been for my lack of peace; we seemed match-made in heaven. I remember my mum telling me one night, ‘Tosin, I see the hurt in your eyes, and I know that if you didn’t value God’s opinion more than anything, you’d have married Charles!’ I still questioned God’s decision, even after he had given me a man that loves me beyond words can describe . . . O, the lessons of letting go!
I’ll be married in exactly 35 days from today, and I know deep within my heart I’m ready to tell him, ‘Where you go, I will go!’, but how do I live it out? I was challenged when I read Dr. Laurel’s comment about how she quit her job to move with her husband because she knew God was in the decision; but I know God brought me to Malaysia a month ago for a mission and also has my husband-to-be in Scotland for one too. Will it be tough living apart even after we are married, till we complete the assignments we have? I can only trust the Orchestrator of all the is HELD IN PLACE!!!
Thanks Liz . . . you always have a way of ‘bringing it all out’, and I know the Holy Spirit planned it all.
Oh, my dear girl, what an incredible time in your life! CONGRATS on your pending marriage! My husband and I were living in two different places the first two months of our marriage, and I have to be honest: that was REALLY tough! But it will be over before you know it and you’ll be together for good. May the years ahead be filled with adventures and experiences that shape you both into the image of God’s Son!
And I say, “AMEN!!!”
The funny enough, my fiancé was sharing with me a while ago. He said that in these our times of waiting to be together, the Lord is going to be teaching us about his longing for his bride (the Church), and how he waits to be united with her. I began to appreciate the love the Lord has for us when I realize how passionately my fiancé longs for my presence. The only question I had for him was this: Does the Church feel the same longing and desire to be with Jesus? The answer from him and the Lord wasn’t so pleasant ;-(
So happy that you have found the man God created for you & that you had the spiritual maturity to “let go” when you did! I encountered the same situation many years ago & made the wrong decision – years of unhappiness followed. Those difficult years enabled me to realize the importance of consulting God in every decision I make – large & small – & making him Lord & master of my life! Re: having to live apart from your husband for a period – God’s way is always the best way!
You can say that again!!! God’s way is surely the best way!
The first time I encountered the “Whither Thou Goest” speech was in the song by the same name, in a book of wedding songs. I, too, would follow my husband anywhere. Although I grew up going to church, Bible study came along in my 40s, so I didn’t realize this vow was made to a mother-in-law!
Although I grew up in a great family, I had problems with trusting in the love of God the Father. I was afraid of making him mad at me, just as I feared my parents’ anger or disappointment. But when I married and understood my husband’s love for me . . . wow. God loved me like that! Amazing.
We’re not always called to leave our families to serve the Lord, but we will almost always be called to leave behind something of ourselves–our pride, the idols we cling to as security blankets until we learn to trust the Lord Himself.
Your last statement was particularly profound, Janet. We DO all have to leave something behind in order to follow the Lord. Well said, sis!
Amen Sister Janet!
I have followed my husband all over this country because of his work. We have lived in 9 states. But the hardest move for me was when he quit his job and we moved to Florida to be with his mother after his father passed away. He told me everything would be ok. That he could get a job there and things would be fine. They weren’t.
To start off he couldn’t get hired anywhere. Then his mom got sick. Then my husband was told he had cancer. Plus we were living in a 500 square foot place with my mother-in-law. I cried out to the Lord and asked why! Why are we here? Why does it seem like everything is falling apart?
Hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it? The Lord had us there for a reason. During this year long trial we discovered how to lean on him.
My mother-in-law and I got so close and realized just how much alike we were. If we had not been there with her she would have died. She had to have open heart surgery while we were there. Had we not been there the cancer my husband had may not have been found in time and I could have lost him.
After this difficult year my mother-in-law was doing great, my husband was cancer free and he had a job. I learned that “God’s got it!”
Now THAT is what I call a happy ending, Jo Ann. You not only learned a great deal along the way, you’ve now shared it with us. And I LOVED this wee bit you included in your email to me earlier today…
,·´o`·, /__/ _/\_\
“`)¨(´´ |__ | | |
¸,.-·-°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,-. :º°
…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Loved this story – reminds me of a bad situation & period (due to my own wrong choices) in my own life when God met me “where & when” I was & brought me “back” to him!
This is encouraging. God just does it, doesn’t he? And he does it well!!!
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 has always been a favorite passage for me. I must not only know God’s word, but live it as well. I write His word on index cards or chalkboards around
my house to remind me of His commandments to me.. It has become a favorite for my grandchildren to see those words as well and opens up conversation. Love how your thoughts and study are opening up my eyes. Thank you
By writting God’s words on the chalkboards for you grandchildren (and others) to see, you are leaving them with such a precious legacy from you. They will remember this and hopefully do the same for their children and grandchildren. Isn’t is amazing that something so simple can leave such a lasting impression!
Great to know how you are putting that ancient passage into modern practice, Linda. I once visited a woman’s home that had verses in a beautiful script painted right on her walls. Really took my breath away. And many people who are building new homes or churches will write Scripture verses on the sub-floor. A solid foundation, for sure!
I love your comment under question 2b, “Love first, help first, serve first, then acknowledge the Lord.” I work as a nanny/household manager. It is easy for me to grow impatient when, come Monday morning, I am handed a long list of things I need to do on top all of my regular responsibilities. I’ve been tempted to scream “Can’t you people do ANYTHING for yourselves?” Thankfully, I haven’t 😉 The family I work for knows that I am a Christian, and they have made it clear to me that they are not interested. How can I reach them for Christ? By loving them first, helping them first, and serving them first. That means joyfully washing their dirty laundry.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” -Colossians 3:23
PROFOUND!!! Bless your heart, Krista!
You are SO on the right track, Krista. May the Lord strengthen your conviction to honor him in your work!
Love these ideas!
Sorry I didn’t clarify – “love these ideas”, meaning the scripture verses on walls & foundations of homes.
Thanks for sharing your insights on burial and cremation with me, Liz. I agree that it doesn’t matter since we become dust anyway…but it is nice to have a “burial place” to visit. Hoping for the Rapture so this will really be a moot point!!!
Tee-hee. Since we had that conversation via email, Sharon, our sisters must be going, “WHAT insights on cremation?!” And I’m with you: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
Tears in my eyes as I ( with praise & worship music softly playing) ponder my answers to these questions. It hasn’t been easy following Gods’ instruction to move back home (almost 5 years ago) – due to obligations I felt to aging parents & other relatives. A 360 degree turnaround re: employment status, income, friendships, church affiliation, & – since then, my own health issues. It has also been hard watching my familys’ health decline, likewise – considering the options if I should arrive at that point when I would require the help of someone else caring for me. I must tell you that the Lord has used your words of encouragement to inspire me numerous times in the last few years. I am assured that he is there to guide me through the situations that will arise as I age.
I have lived alone for 24 years – the tendency to become too independent & controlling can be both a good & bad thing & something I ask the Lords’ help with. There have been a couple of situations when I briefly allowed friends – needing housing – to live with me. I, too, found that I am not that easy to live with & needed to show more compassion & understanding for the rights of others.
I grew up “in the church” & accepted Christ as my saviour when I was 13 years old, strugggled through too many “bad girl” years, & found Christ again at the age of 52. My exhilarating experience of walking with the Lord at age 13 paled in comparison to the relationship I have with him now – I think emotional & spiritual maturity, lessons learned from life experiences, as well as more available options for bible study, have helped me get there. I feel one of the reasons Ruth, Saul, Jonathan, & David gave God permission to punish them if they failed to honor their vows – was to show their love & respect for him, & that would be the only situation in which I could envision myself doing the same.
Thanks for sharing, Bonnie. What circuitous routes we’ve all taken until we reached his throne of grace!
I think one of the most interesting questions in this study so far is the one about how our age when we meet the Lord affects our relationship with him. Over the past year our five year old granddaughter has given us some quite profound statements about our relationships with God. Just this week she shared her version of first sin and you could hear her disgust over the fallen angel turned demon snake who tempted Eve. Last spring as we were riding in the car, she said, “Grandma, did you know there are people who don’t believe in God? (You could hear the absolute shock in her voice) Then she added, “But we do, Grandma. We love Him.
There is such a naturalness and joy to her belief, and I pray it will always stay that way. I remember a similar assuredness and strength of belief as a child. Sometimes when I hear an adult tell a conversion story, I wonder if my faith is less strong than theirs, since I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe. Instead, I’ve found periods as an adult when doubt and distance seem to be growing, partly because I don’t have that conversion story. I want that same excitement that the little children like my granddaughter have or the zest you felt as a “new” Christian.
I long for that excitement too (to have a conversion story). Growing up in Church makes me feel like I get familiar with God sometimes, and to the point where lukewarmness steps in and it’s so hard to get back that fire! BUT FOR GRACE!!!
You basically used the same words that I did to answer this question. I too grew up in church and was 9, I think when I got saved. I just have always been in a christian environment and at times you do get to the point where you’re luke warm. You can easily take God for granted. So glad that I’m not the only one who makes this mistake.
Here’s the thing about meeting Christ as an adult: the years before are sometimes filled with hardships and heartache. So, however much excitement a new believer might feel, however dramatic her conversion story, she also bears the consequences of what came before and the memories that often refuse to be silenced. You do have a testimony, dear Sue: you cannot remember a time when you didn’t believe in Jesus. That’s WONDERFUL. It’s the testimony every mother prays her children will have. I definitely get the doubt and the distancing issues. Been there. The only way I know to recapture my zest for Christ is worship and the Word. I’m so glad you are with us, and appreciate your honesty. THANKS for sharing!
I think a lot of women experience periods in their life when they encounter doubt & distancing from God, irregardless of their conversion experience. For me – maintaining a close relationship with God is something I need to work at on a daily basis, just as it is necessary to work daily towards having the best possible marriage. Listening to quiet praise & worship music always speaks to me – making prayer & bible study even more productive. Bible study via attending womens’ conferences, or viewing dvds from the ladies ministering at the conferences, is helpful also.
I’m so thankful for your study guide! This is my first book of your that I have read and love your writing style! God has given you a wonderful gift & you have touched my life..thank you. Your question about the age when you found God made me do a lot of thinking. My parents alway took us to church from a very young age. I met God when I was 8 years old. The bible stories have been taught to me through the years and I learn something new every time I hear them. As a young believer, I always imagined God as a friend walking right by my side. We see pictures of best friends at a young age walking hand in hand, that is how I felt. Now as an adult, I still feel God is right there walking with me, but I have a deeper understanding of why he is walking with me. God has never left my side, but I have left his many times! (sorry to say)
What a beautiful description of how a child’s faith matures, Kapke. Isn’t it something how faithful God is? “For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” Psalm 117:2
Cj, I agree with that feeling that Jesus was a friend walking hand in hand. As a child, our Sunday School gave us our first Bibles and they had a cover with that wonderful picture of the little children seated around Jesus’s feet. I could close my eyes and see myself in that group. I am sure that is how my little granddaughter feels right now. I told my husband last night I wish I had a built in tape recorder so I could push an “on” button when she shares these spontaneous bursts of genuine faith. Then I would play them back to her as she growsw!!
We pray daily that as grandparents that we can be models of God’s love for them.
Well, I’ll answer 2a. I grew up in the church, so my whole “conversion story” is pretty boring. But I think it’s sometimes easier to come to Christ when you’re younger because you haven’t been jaded by the world. You aren’t thinking with a grown up mind. I know so many people who just won’t listen to anything you have to say about Christ because of their life experience. And it kills me. I also think that sometimes it’s easier to come to Christ when you have “nothing” because He’s the ultimate need. When you have cars and money and “stuff”, you sometimes think you don’t need anything else so you kind of blow off God. But when you have nothing, either literally nothing or nothing by society’s standards, then you don’t have everything and you know it and God is what ends up filling your nothing. There are so many different situations that can make it easier or harder for someone to come to know Christ. I suppose that’s why we should live like we’re Christians and not just talk about it. That way we’re witnessing without words and people are more likely to be reached.
The truth is, God calls us unto himself at the perfect time, when we have eyes to see and hears to hear and are ready to respond to the gospel. So whenever and however it happens, it’s GOOD! And I love your “witnessing without words.” One of my favorite passages is Philippians 2:14-16: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” May it be so, Lord!
Very true. When God calls you, He calls you! I like those verses too. We’re actually going through Philippians at church this year and that’s one of the sections that really stands out to me because I need to learn how to do stuff without complaining at home. I do ok outside the house but at home…
I loved the illustration of the clinging child. I remember those days well. I still have them when I arrive home from work. One by one my children come for moments of my time…often to the point of clinging when I just want to be quiet for a moment.
I will look at that differently now.
I will also look at how I am supposed to cling to Jesus. I remember when my boys were younger they would wrap their arms around their dad’s leg as they sat on the floor. When he went to walk across the floor, he would just carry them that way. Of course the children would giggle. How I should allow my Savior to carry me!
I’m glad that example rang true to you, Kimberly. Such a vivid memory for me. Of course, when I shared the story with my daughter (now 23) before including it in the book, she didn’t recall that day at all! Good thing, right? Love the image of our Savior carrying us, clinging to him.
I’ve been thinking about this chapter… I really feel God is the one to work on your heart, to give you the desire to follow Him. We made a big move with 4 of our children, 500 miles away from all our family, and I wasn’t a Christian at that point. Where does he put my daughter, the first day of school (in 4th gr.) right smack in front of the pastors daughter. We were Catholic (I’m not saying that there aren’t Christians in that religion) but we were going no where spiritually..We started going to another church because the kids loved it and then it all happened. My husband lost his job (he was a plant mang. and wouldn’t cheat on the cement mixture like his boss wanted) God got my attention… I became a Christian, got baptized and the kids all followed. Financially we got depleted totally, I had to look to God for everything, and in turn, my faith grew in leaps.My husband had 2 back surgeries, couldn’t work, I got pregnant with our 6th child, (on birth control) You name it it happened, but God was in control …. that’s how he got my attention… I’d had $9.00 for 10 days, you figure it out, with 6 kids you can’t even buy milk and bread. My son got sick and on the way to the doctors I prayed about it, when I got there, the secretary told me I had paid a bill twice and owed me money… ok… how many times does that happen?? $50.00 over drawn in my checking account, I didn’t have it, prayed on the way to the post office to get the mail, there was a $50.00 check, from my husbands Aunt, no postmark, just a note saying the she was thinking about us. The odds of that? I was in 3 bible studies, soaking it all in. One day I was reading and got so involved with it, I totally forgot to pick up my son from kindergarden at noon, here comes my Mom and Dad (they moved up with us by then) with my son, she said for “some reason I felt we should go pick him up”… Never happened before or after… the odds of that?
Anyway, it all boils down to the fact that I honored and love my husband, followed him with a big move, and God took care of the rest
Mary Ann! What a testimony to the power of trusting God to provide for our every need! Truly incredible. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of how God works. I can picture Naomi and Ruth shaking their heads and saying, “We know just what you’re talking about!”
Naomi must have showed great care and love toward Ruth in their relationship. She must have demonstrated an appealing life to Ruth for Ruth to make such a commitment to her mother-in-law. I think that if the substance of our lives includes being centered on loving God, living a sincere faith and having a clean conscience then we will naturally demonstrate God’s love to others and hopefully be used to draw them into the kingdom. Sounds so simple but hard to live out. It’s a day-by-day, sometimes minute-by-minute struggle to achieve.
Liz, I love your idea about meditating on a portion of scripture as you go to sleep and the first thing when you wake up. I am going through a difficult season right now. The mental stress is causing disturbing dreams during the night and I wake up each morning with knots in my stomach. I’m going to give your thought a try myself – I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’ve just begun with that bedside Scripture and already I LOVE it. The first night I did it I dreamed about the Word all night. Kinda wild! It’s especially fun in the morning when I reach for the alarm clock and the verse is waiting for me, I can’t turn the light on fast enough, so eager to begin the day on the right note.
Liz, love your blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to share so deeply with your readers. You’re a great connector! Just wanted to comment on the part Naomi had in teaching Ruth about God. I have to believe that Naomi had to have been a huge impact in Ruth’s life those ten years not just through her teaching but through her life. For Ruth to make that kind of a commitment to Naomi and God, she had to have a relationship with God and love Naomi deeply. I can remember someone who sewed into my life who deeply inspired me to want to be a Woman of the Word. I hung onto her teaching but it was her passion for God that came through. I wanted what she had and I went after it. Naomi has to be given a lot of credit for inspiring faith and commitment into Ruth. It should also inspire us to be women who stir up a hunger for God in others not just through our words but our choices, attitudes and behavior. As we are refined as silver (not an easy process) the splendor of God peeks through and gives others a taste of His glory. In spite of Naomi’s trials and admitting to being bitter, she knew where her source was — the House of Bread, God and God alone. She arose and went back to Bethlehem retracing her steps of ten years before. That took faith and trust in God. It had to speak volumes to Ruth.
With all my heart I hope you are right about Naomi, Angela. When we meet her she is brokenhearted and bitter, quick to send her d-i-l’s back to their false gods. Yet surely there was something sweet and pleasant about her during those 10 years in Moab before she lost her sons. I’ve always seen Ruth’s commitment as primarily to the Lord, and her commitment to Naomi as a by-product of that love for God. But yes, she must have cared for Naomi too. Certainly she honored and respected her. Lots to learn from our sister Ruth on that count!
This is the first time I have actually READ all the comments before posting. Thank you ladies for all your wisdom, sharing, and believing.
I answered question 1a with my husband as well as many of the other ladies, and you, Liz; I didn’t hesitate to say that. Despite the difficult and trying times we are going through right now, his lack of faith, anger at God, unhappiness at work, choosing single male friends and beer over me and the girls…. I guess because I know that IF we were to go someplace, it would definitely be GOD sending us. I made a vow over 20 years ago to love that man til death do us part and despite the difficulty… I am still his wife. The Lord has called me to that, and I must obey.
Thanks Ladies, for sharing and encouraging this weary soul.
I hear that weariness in your words, Brandi, and pray that God will continue to strengthen you. Your commitment to your marriage vows is admirable, and I believe God will honor it in a BIG way. He is not done with your husband yet! We are all works in progress. Thank the Lord for his patience and loving-kindness. Your story brings to mind this familiar passage from 1 Peter 3:1-2 (J.B. Phillips Translation) “In the same spirit you married women should adapt yourselves to your husbands, so that even if they do not obey the Word of God they may be won to God without any word being spoken, simply by seeing the pure and reverent behaviour of you, their wives.” You go, girl!
Liz, you bring a smile to my face, thank you for your prayers and encouragement!
Reading about Naomi and Ruth has reminded me that the life we live is not the life that God intended for us. But that the life we live as Christians is always an amazing journey. Over the years, I have learned the value of keeping my focus on Christ. I learned to stop, drop, and pray when fear begins to swoll me. I have discovered the value of placing His words to memorization and the peace that transcends all understanding. And in time I have become more comfortable sharing God’s words with my family.
My twin sister and I, at age 55, are going closer as we support each other through life’s challenges. My most challenging struggle is taking that moment my moment step in faith that God will see her through the trials that currrently engulf her.
As I have grown spiritually, I have known that application of God’s truths in my life, is my next stage in growth. Naomi lost everything but in the end gained so much. My sister too is loosing everything. All she has is God and that is priceless!
Okay, now THIS is my quotable quote for the day, Brenda: “stop, drop, and pray.” LOVE IT!
Am getting caught up with the reading and am enjoying every bit of it. I have done a Bible study on the Book of Ruth before, but you have presented many different insights. I love it. Naomi must have been quite an example to her daughters-in-law, but as so often is the case, only one was interested. The example we set in all that we do and say is powerful. Ruth’s desire to remain with Naomi was evidence of God’s work in her heart and life. She realized Naomi’s God was different and offered so much more than the gods she knew in Moab. We so many times don’t know how our actions may affect someone else when we are walking our walk with our Savior. Am loving the book and thinking of using it in a women’s Bible study in which I participate.
Even though we don’t see it on the page, clearly Naomi did SOMETHING right during those years in Moab. Yet, as you say, God was the one at work in Ruth’s heart. Glad you are with us, Beth!
Yea! I am now on the same page you all! I am so excited to be a part of this awesome Bible Study. You all sound lovely and I hope to get to know you better through this blog. Liz, I have so much respect for you as a teacher, encouragerer, and just a sister in the Lord! Bless you – Bless you. Now Chicks for my input_ I feel I was loved into the Kingdom of God. My mentors taught me to serve with all your heart, never be afraid to reach out to another and love them. God is closely watching and I want Him to say “Well done- my daughter”. Be blessed -until next week – kt
Isn’t it wonderful to be “loved into the Kingdom”? That’s my story, too. God bless you for jumping in!
In response to your question about Naomi sharing her faith with Ruth –
“…over the years that living out my faith is even more effective than talking about it all the time.” This was discussed in our Sunday School class this week. We can bring others to Christ by our actions – you may never know who you influence along the way. Sometimes it may be just a smile and a kind word to the frazzled store clerk or it can be my setting a good example to my children and their friends. Thanks Liz – I am so enjoying this book.
Glad you are enjoying our study, Martha. The truth is, we don’t bring anyone to Christ; he brings them to himself! And isn’t it wonderful that he uses us as part of that process, such that we have the joy of watching it happen? NOTHING is more thrilling!
I moved out of my parents house for about a year with two friends of mine. One I was VERY close to (people used to tell us we shared the same brain) and one that I knew and liked. I used to say that my best friend was the one who was hard to live with because she did many little things to annoy me. Things like just throwing dirty dishes in a broken dishwasher and buying new ones when we ran out of plates. During the time that I lived there I started going to this small group at our church. I didn’t want to go but was pushed into it. I knew a few of the people in it and thought we were friends. I would talk to them about my friend’s annoying habits ( I wasn’t avoiding telling her, because I already knew she just laughed when I mentioned things to her.) and they started giving me their opinions. Little by little I stopped seeing my best friend through my eyes and God’s eyes (in which I knew no matter what she did I always loved her) and saw her through their eyes. That’s where the problem came. I wasn’t treating her the same because I no longer saw this amazing friend who had been through so much with me, instead I saw all the annoying things that never mattered until others continually pointed them out to me. Eventually I allowed their criticism of her to become my judgement of her and ultimately I lost her for years. Looking back I see that it wasn’t her, it was me. I didn’t treat her right when I stopped loving her unconditionally. It wasn’t long after losing her that these other people who I had been calling friends all turned their backs on me and walked away. She would never have done that and was even willing to stay friends until I pushed her away and was cruel to her. Now we talk and see each other here and there, but rebuilding the relationship is very hard. God showed me through that just how important it is to keep our eyes on Him and to see people the way that He does. Love them unconditionally. When your heart is screaming this is wrong, listen to it. I completely believe that it’s the Holy Spirit talking to us. When you ignore it you can lose something that is very precious to you. You can’t blame others either. I wanted to pin everything on these so called friends, but I realized that they could say anything they wanted, but I had to choose to see things their way. Don’t blame others. Just make the right choices for you and listen to your heart no matter what anyone else says.
The biggest thing I learned from Ruth 1:14-18 was that sometimes you have to fight to do the right thing. Ignore the obstacles that will surely be there. Don’t back down no matter who protests. Follow your heart and God no matter what!!!!
I’m sure many of us were reminded of a similar situation in our own lives when we read your honest account, Steffennie. The good news is, you came to a right conclusion, learned lots from it, and are rebuilding your friendship. Life is more about learning from our mistakes than it is getting everything right the first time. (Come to think of it, that’s the ONLY way I seem to learn: stumble, stand back up, keep walking!)
Steffennie – I can so relate to you. I, too, allowed the unconditional love of my bestest friends to wane due to a lifestyle I allowed to take precedence in my heart. I lost these precious girls for several years and over the last few years have been trying to re-establish these relationships. We have made some progress but we are no where near as close as we were. I don’t know if we can ever get back there completely. Today I thank God that they are a part of my life again, in any way possible. Last year we had to bury one of our friends and I am truly grateful I had been able to make some amends to her. If this had happened before we were in each other’s lives again the pain would be unbearable now. I just wanted you to know you are not alone.
Thank you. There are times when I really do feel alone. After losing the friend that I mentioned that I’m trying to rebuild a relationship with God sent me an amazing friend. She has many of the same qualities as the other girl. She was the one who encouraged me to try talking to the other girl again. Last year we lost a friend in a motorcycle accident. I was so grateful that God had been working in our relationship because it allowed us to help each other through that. If God hadn’t opened the door for us to rebuild our friendship we most likely would have sat rows apart at the memorial service and wished we were side by side, at least I would have. Instead we sat next to each other and held hands most of the service. She hates to cry in front of people and if she cries in front of you, you’re in her inner circle. That night more than once she leaned over to what others would have thought was a simple hug, but in reality she was crying and chose me to help cover it from others. That’s when I knew that God really was at work. We’re not anywhere close to what we used to be and it’s taking a while, but I think in the end it’ll be worth the wait. I’ll keep you and your friends in prayer and hope that the end will be worth the wait, as well.
I’ve gotten way behind as October was so busy but every time I come back I realize it should be more important to be here! Why do other things always get in the way? More importantly, why do I let them?! I met the Lord at age 6 as I was afraid of hell and didn’t want to go there. As a child, initially, I truly feared the Lord and his wrath! Growing up in the church I learned about his love and how to healthfully fear him. My sister (I was the oldest of three, my next sister was handicapped and went Home at age 15, it is the youngest, the sister after her whom I speak of) was super difficult to grow up with, and I didn’t see it at the time, but I was an instigator and not so easy to
get along with myself! My cad’s job took him out of town all week and on the weekends he would be so frustrated, is this the family who was just sitting so nicely in church?!
This Kindle will not let me scroll down to fix “cad” to “dad” I don’t know why! Anyway, we fought easily and always. Now we are both grown, living in different States and raising our families. I joke that we get along as long as she lives in Tennessee!! We still irk each other but we are closer than we used to be. I never had the chance to live with a Bestie or any other friend and these days I really wish I’d had that opportunity. My Bestie and I are married and while we have fun together when we can, I really see I missed out on that pre-marriage fun and relationship building. She had a college Bestie she got to do those things with and I lived at home until I married. I need to remember to thank God that I have a wonderful husband and Bestie and not pine for what I didn’t get. I’m sure there are reasons! For now I focus on my family and getting our chaos in order. My hubs and I have mapped out a plan! And a desire to get back to church. Not raising our son with constant reminders of the Lord is having an effect. He needs to be in church. Please pray I can resist the devil and get out of bed on Sunday mornings. 🙂
Amy, thanks SO much for sharing your journey with us. When family members aren’t physically close, those relationships can still continue to grow emotionally. Time and distance can be a good thing. ;>) Yes, do find a church. Maybe one that has Saturday evening services, if the Sunday morning thing is hard to manage with your son (every mother gets this!). Keep growing, keep reading the Word, and please keep in touch with your sisters here. We’re cheering for you!
I accepted the Lord as a very young child. This gives an advantage in knowledge of the Word and all that goes on in a christian life and church.. It gives less experience in how great the offer of Jesus Christ was for me. It seemed that I only had these ‘pet’ sins.
Then, when I was ready (and I was not for a loooooong time) the Lord showed what all went wrong in myr life (read how badly you sinned) and the offer of Jesus became all of a sudden more real and more precious.
The Lord is still showing me and prayers are appreciated.