Thursday, January 14, 2016

That Moment of Choice

Last Sunday, our church began a series on Ruth, so this week, I’ve been reading through Ruth 1 and 2 closely. 

I’ve never noticed how broken and bitter Naomi is until today. As a high schooler, I read Ruth as a beautiful love story, but in my naiveté and innocence, I didn’t comprehend or identify with the grief these women had faced. 

To lose their husbands, and for Naomi, to lose her sons too.
To have no means for income
To travel alone as women
For Ruth, to work in dangerous fields where young, beautiful women were often assaulted.

They had a right to feel bitter, to feel scared, to feel, especially, that the Lord had not dealt kindly with them. 

But what contrast between the two women. 

Ruth, as a Moabite, converts to Judaism—taking on the covenant of Naomi’s God. And in doing so, she believes for a better future. 

She is willing to work hard—not with bitterness or self-pity.
She is joyful and humble—not entitled.
She doesn’t demand; she doesn’t expect. 

And the Lord moves on her behalf to provide: His great providence. 

It’s sadly our culture and our generation to demand, expect, and feel entitled.

But God is moved by hearts that are willing to trust, to risk, to do the hard work, not knowing whether it will pay off. 

Ruth could have adopted Naomi’s attitude about God—that He didn’t care, that He wasn’t doing anything on their behalf, that His hand was against them. 

And given the grief she walked through and the uncertainty she faced, no one would blame her. 

It’s in our uncertainty that we sometimes feel most forgotten. 

In the midst of grief, providence seems the least likely—God’s goodness seems the furthest away.

Last Saturday, our three-year-old Wiemaraner discovered some poison in the shed. Once we realized what had happened, we immediately jumped into action. The emergency vet hospital is one hour away, so they told us how to induce vomiting immediately. 
Rizzoli threw up twice in the yard—bright chunks of green poison—and three more times in the back seat of Howell’s truck as we rushed to the vet hospital. We were laying hands on her, absolutely believing and praying that God would heal her.

Unless you’re a dog person, you may not fully understand how we felt, especially since our dogs are like children to us. 

So we get to the vet hospital, and we bring the box of what she got into, and the vet—who must have left his compassion hat at home—plainly tells us there’s not much they can do for that type of poison; there’s no real antidote. He said they would monitor her and give her fluids, but basically, either she’ll live, or she’ll die. 

I was choking on my tears. 

Talk about uncertainty. 

I felt like my legs weighed a thousand pounds as I walked to the truck—without our dog-baby.
Once I was in the cab, I started to weep. The Lord let me cry, let me feel, let me walk down all the worse-case scenarios and juggle my hope with the bad news. 

But when we pulled into the garage, I heard Him whisper so gently, Trust me. I’ve got you; I’ve got this—just trust me.

It’s always a choice, isn’t it? 

We picked up Rizzoli the next day, and although it took another day before her system was fully normal, she most certainly lived. 

But it’s in that moment—where the uncertainty lives, where the doc says she’ll live or she’ll die—that’s the moment of choice. 

And to choose faith is to be brave, to dare greatly, as Brene Brown would say. 

Ruth was a courageous woman. She dared to believe contrary to her circumstances and feelings, and in that moment: 

She dares to hope.
She dares to be brave.
She dares to be seen. 

What about you, dear friend? Do you feel like Naomi—hurt and bitter, as if the Lord has turned His hand against you? 

Can you trust Him with your heart today—to believe that He has a good purpose for you, and by His providence, He will make a way? 

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