The other girl
In case you haven’t already guessed, I love the book of Ruth, I know big surprise. I love to study her character and strengths. But as I read through the story (again), I wanted to explore a different person in her book, one that only had a brief moment. Orpah, was married to Chilion who died with his brother Mahlon, leaving her and Ruth, widows. Her marriage of ten years was over and she was no longer a wife but a widow with only a mother and sister in law left in this side of the family. Naomi decides it is time to return to the land of her nativity, so, like a good daughter in law, Orpah along with Ruth decide to go with her. As they begin their journey Naomi turns and says it is a bad idea for them to return with her. The only thing that is awaiting them back in Bethlehem is poverty and emptiness. Sadly her picture was poorly painted and misrepresenting, but we will leave that for another time. Both girls cry and say they will not leave yet Naomi gives them even more reasons to leave. Orpah gives in to these additional reasons and makes the decision to leave, one that will change her life forever. As I meditated on her story I began to think about how her decision of allowing the obstacles to deter her from following after Naomi caused her to miss out on the extraordinary.
Life is a journey
We are on a journey called life, it is filled with many bumps, detours and obstacles. As believers we know our final destination is Heaven yet we often complain about the journey toward it. Orpah quit, she turned back from an opportunity to live in the promised land, to know God. Ruth clung to God and was rewarded beyond measure. She traded her life of poverty for one of surplus, as the wife of Boaz she would never lack. God did something extraordinary in the life of Ruth, which makes me wonder what would God have done for Orpah? What if she would have had the courage to follow on as Ruth did. Instead she allowed the obstacles to deter her from pursuing after the one true God and missed out on the extraordinary.
It pleases God
This thought has lingered with me for weeks. How many times have I missed out on what God wanted to do for me and through me because of some obstacles that got in my way? What could have been done, what could I have witnessed, had I stepped out in faith and trusted Him with the results? I can think of several instances where I backed down from something simply because I was afraid or I thought the obstacles to big. I persuaded myself that it was not the right time, that it was not practical or that it was not suited for me at the moment. My lack of courage caused me to back down and miss out. I will never know what could have been in those instances but sometimes I wonder if I missed out on seeing God do the extraordinary. Now I am not saying that we should say yes to everything, we need to seek God's will in every facet of our lives but perhaps there are times when we have felt God say go but we let our fears hold us back. The concept of faith is simple when you speak of it, but it is much harder to live. It requires us to lay aside all of our insecurites, our knowledge of what should be, and step into the unknown. It means that we trade our feeble logic for God's. Yet it is interesting to note that without faith we cannot please Him. Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: fo the that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Wow, what a thought!! It is through faith that we please God, it means we are trusting Him to do what is best, it means that we are choosing to lean on His own understanding instead of our own.
Missing the extraordinary
Satan wants nothing more than to veer us off course and he does so with his vast array of obstacles. The tragedy of Orpah's story is that she not only missed out on seeing God do the extraordinary in her life, she missed out on knowing Him completely. By returning to her home in Moab she also returned to the empty gods, and wide path of destruction, a path that would lead to eternal death. While this aspect of her story does not apply to believer because we are assured a place in heaven, there is another part. How we will arrive in heaven depends on us, it lies within out hands. What will we have to lay at the feet of our Savior? Will we have brought those that we have lead to Christ? Will we have lived a life that yielded fruit that will abound to our accounts? Will we have rewards to cast at the feet of our Savior because we remained true to His name? Or will we have little because the obstacles caused us to back down, sit down, or slow down?
I don’t want my life to be one that remained in the shadows because I was afraid to go into the unknown. Because I was fearful of stepping out in faith and trusting God with the results. We must be willing to look at the obstacles and realize we have all we need to overcome them. Ruth did not let anything deter her from following and pursuing after God. She was willing to live in poverty, to remain single, and be a stranger in another country, just so she could remain with Naomi and know her God more. Every reason Naomi gave Ruth as to why she shouldn’t go to Bethlehem were not valid in her book. God blessed her for diligently seeking after Him. Tragically, Orpah let those same reasons (obstacles) turn her back to a life of hopelessness, a choice that would cost her dearly in the end.
Let Him write your story
Though my eternal destination is secure because I have trusted in the blood of Jesus, my journey is up to me. Will I let the obstacles of life prevent me from seeing God do the extraordinary, because that is exactly what He wants to do. I am just an ordinary girl, but I am loved by an extraordinary God who asks me to trust Him enough to let Him write my story. I promise that His story is better than anything you could have ever imagined. Will you join me on this journey called life, and let God write our extraordinary story?
Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and then just put it on a list and said, "I'll pray for them later?" Or has anyone ever called you and said, "I need you to pray for me, I have this need?" The following story will emphasize the importance of doing it now, not later.
A journey to the city
A missionary on furlough told this true story while visiting his home church in Michigan. "While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point.
On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I panned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine, and supplies, and then begin my two day journey back to the field hospital.
Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord. I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident.
Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, 'Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by twenty six armed guards'.
At this, I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however, and said, 'No, sir, I was not the only person to see the guards, my friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.'"
Praying instead of putting
At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story. "On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?" The men who had met together to pray that day stood up. The missionary wasn't concerned with who they were, he was too busy counting how many men he saw.
There were twenty six!
May we never put off the urging of the Lord. This was convicting to me, so often I put it off or forget completely. Prayer does make a difference, a world of difference.
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I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.