Faith, Lifestyle

The Choice – part 1

I am a sucker for a romantic movie, and my favourite one of all time is The Choice (closely followed by The Notebook). Both movies feature couples whose love beats all the odds and whose choices affect their entire lives.

We find a similar love story in the book of Ruth, a woman who was faced with a series of choices that would change not just her life but the lives of all mankind. But first let me give you a bit of the backstory.

The story of Ruth was written at the same time as Judges, and in this book we learn that the Israelites had no strong spiritual leadership. There had been several Judges appointed to bring law and order, but they had failed, and now ‘everyone did whatever seemed right to him.’ Judges 21:25

We all know that a lack of leadership can lead to vigilante style law. A lack of rules leads to rebellion, and this was certainly true of Israel at this time. This was not a stable economy, or safe society. A famine had broken out and the book begins with choice number one; Elimelech decides to flee his home town of Bethlehem with his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion.

Elimelech chooses Moab

After leaving Bethlehem, Elimelech settles in the land of Moab, but shortly after dies. His sons remain in Moab and take Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah, however both of Elimelech’s sons die, leaving Naomi and her daughters in law destitute. In this day and age, it was not safe for a woman to be alone. Not only could she not provide for herself, but she could not protect herself either. Despite her deep grief at losing not only her husband, but her two children also, Naomi makes a choice to trust God. She decides that she will return to her homeland of Bethlehem upon hearing that ‘the Lord had paid attention to His people’s needs by providing them food.’ Ruth 1:6

Naomi chooses God

In choosing to trust God, she chooses to return home, but the she goes on to do another very selfless act. She tells her daughters to return home to their families. After many tears, Orpah decides to leave and is never mentioned again. Ruth on the other hand chose to stay and her name is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.

Ruth chooses Naomi

So much can hang on one decision. Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi was not made on a whim, it was made on the basis of the faith she saw rise up in her mother in law despite such abject grief. It was made on the realisation that God could and would help her, if she followed Him. That even in her darkest days, through the hardest moments, God was still God. This challenges me so deeply. On my darkest days, can I truly say that my words and actions reflect God and who He is? Do my life choices speak of the faith that rises up in me in response to difficult circumstances?

Do others see God’s hand in our choices? Our faith in our responses?

Ruth didn’t just stay with Naomi, she left all that she knew behind. She chose to embrace a culture and a God that she had not been brought up in, she left was her family home. Ruth also went one step further in making vows to Naomi. These were a covenant promise before God. She vowed to travel with Naomi, to live with her, to make Naomi’s people her people, to worship Naomi’s God, to die where she dies and be buried where she is buried.

Those are some pretty big promises to a woman who is not a blood relative. But what happens next just blows my mind. As Ruth left her bloodline, God placed her in His royal line. Because of the choices that Ruth made, she became the great grandmother of King David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

As I reflected on this, I wondered how God felt toward Ruth, and why she was chosen for such a great honour. In the movie The Choice, local ladies man Travis meets his neighbour Gabby and is totally captivated by her. She gets under his skin in a way that no one else ever has, and he has a phrase he uses with her; ‘You bother me, baby.’ I believe that Ruth bothered God. I believe that she was so loved by God, that He could see her beautiful heart and He wanted to honour the choices she made.

This is just the same for us today. YOU bother God. You bother Him so much that He wrote the greatest love story in the world; He sent His Son to die for you. God sees your heart and He wants to use you to show His love and mercy the world over. He wants to place you in locations and situations that you could barely imagine just so He can pour His grace and favour into your life. You bother God, and maybe, just maybe this is the time you need to choose Him to be at the centre of your life. 

R x

 

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Faith, Lifestyle

Hope with Habakkuk

We could all do with a little bit of hope right now. The world is unsettled and uncertain, nothing is sure and things feel a little bit hopeless. This is just how Habakkuk felt.

600BC Israel was being invaded, the fig trees did not bloom, the fruit did not grow, the crops failed, the flocks disappeared. Sound familiar? Right now we are being invaded by a virus, lives have been taken, jobs have been lost, income has stopped, food is scarce, the future uncertain.

Habakkuk had gone to God with his requests. He had watched to see what God would do, he had worked on his faith as he waited to see what God would say, and now he was faced with an answer that he hadn’t expected.

So what did Habakkuk do next? He worshipped.

His response astounds me, and challenges me. It is not easy to thank God when your prayers are unanswered. It is not easy to praise Him when your problems remains, yet this is exactly what Habakkuk did.

Yet I will celebrate in the Lord – I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! The Lord my God is my strength; He makes my feet like that of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights. Habakkuk 3:18

The key to Habakkuk’s response is in the first line of this scripture; I will celebrate IN the Lord. Not when He has fixed my problems, not if He provides the miracle, not once He has removed me from the place of danger. Habakkuk celebrated IN the Lord, right where he was, with unanswered prayers and an uncertain future. Why? Because he knew God and he knew Him to be good. He knew that God had his best interests at heart.

Even though Habakkuk did not understand what God was doing,
he understood who God was.

Do we praise God even when our problems remain? Do we sing of His goodness even when we are still surrounded on all sides? Do we raise our hands even when the rain is still falling down?

God doesn’t always remove us from the mountains that we face, but in verse 19 we see that He gives us HIS strength and makes our feet surefooted like a deer and ENABLES us to walk on mountains. Have you ever seen deer on a mountain side? They look so precarious on craggy cliff edges, just a step away from a fatal fall, but they are surefooted. Why? Because they were designed to navigate this terrain and because they know the terrain.

The mountain you face right now may seem unpassable to you, but know that the God of the heavens and the earth knows every inch of this terrain. He will give you strength, He will lead you forwards and He will show you where to place your feet.

Habakkuk had confidence in God because he knew Him. Even though, still God.

The book of Habakkuk is a story of waiting and it reminds us that we are not required to be motionless while we wait. Habakkuk encourages us that we need to go to God with our prayers then do three simple things;

WATCH + WAIT  |  WORK + WAIT  |  WORSHIP + WAIT

Watch and see what God is doing, how He is weaving this into His bigger story.

Work on your faith, deepen your relationship with God and download His peace.

Worship God for He is good, and He works all things together for our good.

I don’t know where this finds you today, but I pray that you would be encouraged and equipped to keep pressing in in prayer, keep pushing forward in faith and keep praising Him in everything.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle, Parenting

You are not alone

“Are you scared Mommy?” My wide eyed ten year old looked up at me from the sofa, where he has been watching the latest news unfold. I thought for a moment and took a deep breath before I answered him. I am a firm believer in telling our kids the truth, where appropriate, and I wanted to honour that while protecting my 6 and 3 year old who were also listening in.

Here is what I know; Covid-19 is gathering pace. The global pandemic is far from contained, and there is no telling what the true fall out will be in months and years from now. People are dying, grieving families are unable to mourn properly, and the elderly, infants, pregnant women and the infirm are facing months of solitary confinement. Right now we are facing some of the most challenging times in world history, with the government response being likened to a country at war. Only we are fighting an unseen enemy. The truth is, we have been fighting an unseen enemy since the beginning of time.

We have been fighting an unseen enemy since the beginning of time.

When the Devil was cast down from heaven, he made it his life’s mission to take us all down with him. He has been fighting tooth and nail, summoning all the powers and principalities to wage war against God and His children.

That means you.

You were created by God, for relationship with God and He loves you with every fibre of His being. Whether you believe in God is irrelevant, but you better believe that Satan believes in Him. The Devil is busy whipping up a perfect storm right now; stealing people’s joy, dripping doubts and fear into their every day and distracting them from God.

So what can we do? We need to be on our guard and we need to know what God says about adversity. Get in to your Bible, because lets face it the early Christians had their fair share of persecution, plagues and pestilence. We need to keep pressing in to Jesus, asking for guidance, praying for protection and resting in His peace.

Knowing Jesus isn’t going to guarantee you an easy ride. But when the storms come, it is far easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you fix your eyes on Him.

Peter and the disciples were facing the perfect storm; the waves rising, the boat capsizing. At first glance it looked like Jesus was doing nothing – He was asleep in the back of the boat! But when the disciples turned to Him and woke Him, He stood up and spoke to the storm. (Mark 4:35-41)

Jesus is in your boat, you just beed to ask Him to speak to the storm.

You may feel surrounded on all sides, you may see the water pooling at your feet, you may even feel the waves pulling you under. But look up, fix your eyes on Jesus and ask Him to speak.

Why did He let the storm happen? I believe that Jesus was giving the disciples a wake up call. He needed them to be shaken up to get their attention, and when they finally turned their attention to Him, His power could be revealed.

When our lives are shaken, our focus shifts.

Friends, Coronavirus is here and I believe that God wants to get our attention. The whole world is being shaken and we need to turn our attention to HIM. Am I scared? No, but we are facing scary times. We are fighting an unseen enemy, but please know that we are not fighting alone.

“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14

R x

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