One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you— Ruth 3:1-3a (NLT)
As I read through the story of Ruth, there is no doubt that something was clearly happening between Ruth and Boaz. Ruth chooses to gather from Boaz’ fields. Boaz shows Ruth kindness and Ruth finds herself returning to join Boaz’ harvest each day. I find it fascinating that Naomi saw what was happening. Perhaps it was simply an old Jewish lady seeing that Boaz had the hots for Ruth and taking a chance to play matchmaker, but I believe that Naomi was a wise woman. She was aware, and she discerned that this was a specific moment in which God’s hand was moving in their lives.
Over the past several years Wendy and I have experienced the pain and frustration of striving to make things happen in life only to be disappointed time and time again. We have also, even in recent weeks, experienced being aware that God’s hand is moving and discerning that things are happening as a part of God’s great story.
This morning I am contemplating the places of life in which I am striving, and the places in life in which I am aware things are happening. God, grant me the wisdom to know when to strive, and when to stop striving. Grant me the awareness to sense when you are moving – to discern my role and to play my part well.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!”Genesis 28:16 (NLT)
When I was a kid, the Parka coat became all the winter fashion rage. The Parka’s extra large hood with fake fur lining not only covered your head, but the drawstring would cinch the hood shut until you only had a small peep hole to look through. The parka was effective at blocking the wind from your face on a blustery Iowa winter day, but became a detriment when the kids on the playground started throwing snowballs. Your vision was so terribly restricted that you were completely unaware that a snowball was hurtling toward your head with the speed of a major league fastball. In fact, given the Parka hood’s additional restriction of your hearing you probably hadn’t noticed that a snowball fight had broken out at all.
In the past couple of weeks we’ve been reading about God’s continual presence and interjection in the lives of Abraham and his descendants. I find it fascinating that in today’s chapter Jacob suddenly had an epiphany and was aware of God’s presence in a dream. The truth of the matter is, if he’d been more aware, he might have recognized God’s continual presence and work in he and his family.
How much in life do we miss simply because we bind ourselves up in a spiritual Parka with the hood cinched shut? How much of our life is spent with the eyes of our heart so insulated by self-centered concerns that we cannot see the obvious presence and work of God all around us?
Today, I want to be fully present and aware of God’s presence and purposes which are at work all around me.
So often, success begins with being aware of the opportunity and seizing it. How many times each day to I have opportunity to love, to show kindness to a stranger, to do good, or to encourage someone? How often do I completely miss that opportunity?
I tend to be a person who gets lost in whatever it is I’m doing. It drives my wife crazy on a regular basis. She will often remind me of the invisible blinders I wear when I’m on task. More than annoying my wife, I fear that my single-minded focus on whatever task is at hand blinds me from opportunities of all kinds to make a positive difference in the day of a friend, a neighbor, or a stranger.
Today, I’m thinking about opportunities. I want to take the blinders off and see opportunities that present themselves to pass Jesus’ love and grace forward.