Are you result-oriented, dwelling on numbers, the bottom line, the end justifying the means? By today’s worldly standards (in school, church, business, sports, etc.) we are expected to do more, to do better, to exceed, to excel with results that are visible and measurable. What the world WANTS is extreme performance that propels people to powerful places and positions of influence. With a push for numbers and notoriety, great gifts from God (joy, peace, kindness, honesty, gentleness, and love) are endangered.
Exterior results affirmed by people are not the most important disciplines in God’s eyes. What the world NEEDS is love, sweet love; that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. Besides, love is God’s greatest commandment. Our achievements, honors, degrees, and good deeds may exceed worldly standards, but if we do not love one another, love thy neighbor as thyself, and honor our Lord with love and obedience, what we do is not pleasing in God’s sight. He sees our hearts and knows our motives; we hide nothing from Him. He desires for us to do exceedingly well, while keeping Him first and treating all people as we would want to be treated. God places importance on being before doing.
God emphasizes loyalty and integrity, blessing the fruit of our labor when we do what is right and place responsibility before results. As in the book of Ruth, Jesus prioritizes being before doing. Studying the book of Ruth reminds us that God rewards character, that His purposes will be accomplished in the end.
Have you experienced God with an awe of His Hand of blessing and a desire to be all you can be to enjoy your journey and glorify Him? Are you thinking of times in your own life when God blessed you for doing what was right? Being our best and doing what is right and good happens with ease and excellence when we are closely connected to the Lord and loved ones and live by Jesus’ example.
While writing stories from Ruth, God blessed me while cleaning my mother in law’s yard. Two weeks ago, James and I left Baptist Chapel Church and picked up Tim’s mother. The three of us shared a delicious meal at Salem Pizza, a family favorite for good food and fellowship. After lunch, James offered to take me by Union Grove Church for a baby shower and he’d take Mom home. I started to say yes, but felt a strong sensation to go to her house. When we pulled into her driveway, sticks and limbs from a winter wind storm caught my eye. God stirred my heart to clean her yards. James helped Mom get inside, with me promising to be there soon.
Wearing high heels and a little black dress, I began the task the good Lord put on my heart to do ‘at such a time as this’! Working outside gives me great delight, so joy rose up inside with each armload of limbs I removed from her front yard. It was a sight for sore eyes I’m sure, with me stooping and gleaning in my Sunday attire. It didn’t bother me at all; the more I cleaned, the happier I was. Instead of whistling, I was talking a mile a minute and praising God out loud while I worked. We had a good time going on in Mom’s front yard…me and God! He tendered my heart with thoughts of Ruth gleaning in Boaz’s fields. It was a moment in time with a blessing my heart welcomed. I felt like a little girl acting out a Bible story for a church program. The character I portrayed was Ruth; yet, I could also have been cast as Naomi. Being a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law gives insight and wisdom to understand the heart of each.
Glancing toward the window, I knew Mom was watching. For a moment she was Naomi; I was Ruth. Our love story unfolded like a flash through time as I cleaned her yard. I pictured Tim as a little boy playing in that yard with his brothers, his grandfather pulling through the driveway handing them bags of candy, him washing his daddy’s big ole’ Oldsmobile for our Saturday night dates. Memories flashed before my eyes of family gatherings, holiday celebrations, seasons of happiness and heartaches all shared by a family that loves deeply and sticks together like the bundle I was holding close to my chest. I stooped to pick up one last limb and looked heavenward. I thanked God for this family that became mine through marriage and the mother in law who became ‘Mom’ through time. The tough times that could have distanced us forever, weren’t playing in my mind that Sunday afternoon. God supernaturally erases them when we embrace forgiveness and extend love and loyalty not once, not twice, but seven times seventy.
I praised God for helping me see the beauty and blessings of a close relationship with a mother-in-law: a mother who loves her three sons as I love my two sons, a mother-in-law who loves her three daughters-in-law as I love my two daughters-in-law, and a woman who loves it when her family is closely connected just as I do with my family.
Hope and happiness swelled inside my heart. In the middle of Mom’s front yard, I stooped to pick up one last limb and to pray. Lord, You sure know how to work things out for your children, even when we try to fix things ourselves and make big messes. Thank you for keeping Your Hand on me and my family, for our loved ones who’ve left us being in heaven with You, for keeping our families close, for sending James into my life to love me and my family - as I do his. You are my first love. I am so humbled and honored to clean my mother-in-law’s yards today. Thank you for guiding me here and giving me bundles of blessings. Amen.
When the front yard was clean, I smiled with approval while brushing straw and sticks from my black dress , but God got hold of my heart again. There was still work to be done and blessings to behold. Next week’s continuation was printed in The SI on March 1st. That story told of cleaning the side yard per God’s instructions. Next week, look for the fourth story inspired from studying the book of Ruth and reflecting on my life.