To recap from a previous post, trials and challenges are meant to take us to a place where we find our true purpose, the calling in our hearts that fill us with incredible passion for someone or something else. Once we find what that purpose is, then we begin to be tested through all sorts of relationships, whether family members, spouses or friendships. It’s in those relationships that we begin to see how our fullest potential comes to fruition. Below is the continued story of one such friend who has truly shaped me over the years to become the best person I can be.
Since then, my “lifer” friend and I have been through the most harrowing times of our lives to being super upset with each other and everything in between. We’ve even moved across the nation because she stepped out in faith to move to New York City until God called me to join her one year later, despite my initial fear to go and leave all that I loved behind.
It was a move that would become one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, one that opened doors that only God could open, with opportunities and experiences that were far beyond my dreams. It was also one that I couldn’t have done without knowing that she was there on the other side. The covenantal friendship that we share always finds its way to our hearts and reminds us what is more important.
And through the years, she has prayed for me, instructed me on certain facets of life or relationships that were unhealthy, and has loved me beyond all my faults and imperfections. She is like one who sticks closer than a sister (Proverbs 18:24, NIV).
Now it’s your turn.
You may be growing through something, but how are your relationships? How do your relationships define you?
Who is God asking you to follow, to learn from?
Are you a loyal friend or family member to someone who really needs you right now?
Do you stick closer to your friend than their own flesh and blood?
Do you forgive easily and not hold record of wrongs?
Are you willing to do what it takes to preserve the friendship so long as it’s a healthy, covenantal one?
Allow God to show you how to be a good friend or family member and how to be loving and kind. You never know which of those relationships hold the key to unlocking your destiny.
The verse that stands out most in regards to Ruth’s character can be found in the words of Boaz, her kinsmen-redeemer:
“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character” (Ruth 3:11, NIV).
“Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman” (NLT).
“And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman” (ESV).
“Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence“ (NASB).
In each of these versions, we see that Ruth’s reputation precedes herself as a woman of noble character and excellence, a virtuous and worthy woman. These words speak volumes about how she has carried herself in the public eye and how others “see” her.
It’s incredible to think that here she was a foreigner, a widow, an outcast, a woman who has experienced a tremendous sense of loss as her own dreams of having a family are now obsolete. She could’ve responded like Naomi and become embittered by her circumstances. Yet, she didn’t wallow in her past, in what she no longer had, or ponder upon what could have been, or if only things were different. Instead, she chose to embrace her future with hope and allowed her character to be tested in the process.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how she processed her pain and sorrow or whether she was scared or intimidated to be so far away from home. I mean think about it. Ruth is living in a morally corrupt land. She falls in love with a foreigner whose ways are so vastly different than she’s known.
She learns of this other God who seems so much more personal. She might have even believed that her husband would eventually take her back with him to his hometown, where all of her hopes and dreams could finally take flight. All of those unmet expectations, those hopeful what ifs that didn’t come to fruition that only Ruth knew about could make anyone feel tremendous resentment and heartache (Proverbs 13:12, NIV).
In my own life, I’ve had to lay down dreams time and time again, yet remain hopeful despite my circumstances that those deep desires would ever come to pass. When I finally became a mom after years of holding onto a promise from God, it was absolutely joyful. Then of course, came the hard work of the fulfillment of that dream: parenting.
The first year was incredibly challenging as I found myself working full-time on 3-5 hours a sleep, heavily involved with church responsibilities, and taking care of my son while my relationship with my husband suffered. Every moment with my son was and continues to be blissful but all of the other doings in my life made me feel lifeless, like a hamster running fast on a wheel with no end in sight.
Then God whisked me away to South Africa, thanks to a very good friend and thanks to a loving husband who knew I needed time away. It was there Father God began to speak to me about my heart issues like not living from a place of faith for myself and my family but always trying to be there for everyone else.
After repenting with tremendous tears and tissues, He took me to this verse in Ruth, “And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.” Ever faithful and loving, He reassured me that He had seen my heart, my struggles, my desires and that all I needed to do was trust Him and ask for what I wanted.
Not that He is like a genie in a bottle that would give me everything, but because of my steadfastness through the years of trials and challenges, yet persevering and staying true to the task set before me, allowing Him to refine my character so that He could entrust me with much more, I could now ask him for what I wanted.
Like Ruth, our reputation and character matters to God, our ultimate Kinsmen-Redeemer, who sees all and gives us favor with both Himself and man. So if you are at a place where you are wondering why you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere, or that your life feels like wave after wave of setbacks, then stop all that you are doing and find some time away from the busyness.
In the quietness of being alone, far away from the routine of your life, ask God to show you what it is that you need to change about yourself, your heart, your motives, your perspective.
Are you loving and kind?
Loyal and trustworthy?
A keeper of entrusted secrets?
Compassionate and Empathetic?
An uplifter of others?
Do you celebrate when others succeed?
A good listener?
Then repent and ask Him to speak to you on next steps towards a more refined you. It’s important to do what He says because this activates our faith to see our hearts not only changed but filled to the brim of dreams coming true.
This mantle of Loving-Kindness set forth by Ruth’s example is so important for this generation of women. Like Ruth, we need to step out in faith to find our purpose in our brokenness, remain loving and loyal to those lifer friends or family members who carry the keys to unlock our greatest potential, and allow Him to continue to shape our character, no matter how many trials and challenges we find ourselves in.
We must remain in His joy and strength at all costs. The setbacks truly show who we really are. If there’s an area of our heart that God is pressing upon, let Him have His way. Then we’ll be like Ruth and our reputation will precede us and we will find ourselves doing extraordinary things that we could ever only dream about doing.
So the next time you find yourself being churned by the waves, be encouraged and grateful because God is with you and is about to do something great!