Life in a Different Context

 Today I was thinking about the book of Ruth and the lives of the courageous women for whom it is written. To give a little background in the story, Naomi, the older woman, had moved with her husband and two sons from Bethlehem in Judah to the country of Moab due an outbreak of a famine. While the family resided there, the couple’s two grown sons married women from Moab. The names of these two women were Ruth and Or-pah. At some point during their residency in that place, Elimelech, Naomi’s husband died. Then somewhere around a decade later, both her sons Mahlon and Kilion died also. As a result of this tragic circumstance, Naomi was left alone.

         Some time after that, Naomi heard that the famine had lifted in Judah, so she prepared to leave Moab with her two daughters-in-law, but they could hardly get going before Naomi changed her mind. Now instead of taking these two young ladies with her; she attempted to persuade them to return home to their families, their customs, their traditions and their gods. It took some time, but after a great deal of persuasion, her daughter-in-law Or-pah decided to heed the advice of her mother in-law and reluctantly return home to her family. But not Ruth. Not only would Ruth not budge, the Bible says, “she clung to Naomi.”

         Until that point in her life, Naomi had developed her life-outlook and sense of personal identity based on the immediate context of her life. By that I mean, in the context of marriage and motherhood. And it was life in that context that necessitated the development of the person she had become. After the death of her family however, things were not the same. For Naomi, this new way of life was difficult, uncomfortable and sad. The life in which she had found a sense of belonging,  her feeling of self- worth and usefulness, her value, in fact the very definition of who she was, no longer existed.

          In Ruth 1:11-13, we can see one of the impacts of this major life event in the life of Naomi as she is trying to get her daughters-in-law to see things her way.  She tells them, “Why should you go on with me?” Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters!”

          Something that stood out to me about this passage is the fact that when the context of Naomi’s life changed, when she no longer had all that gave meaning to  who she was, she felt as though she had nothing to offer. In her mind, she had given Ruth and Or-pah all she had to offer when she gave them her sons as husbands. But she had not. While I do not have time for sake of space to go into all the details leading up to both Naomi’s and Ruth’s redemption as a result of their relationship with one another, I will say this: what you and I have been through is not who we are. It is what we have been through. And what we have been through does not determine our self-worth, our value or even what we have to offer this world. God does. Who you are and who I am, our gifting, our talent, our make-up and our respective purpose was established by God. And no external happening in our lives can change that.

        If you were to read the book of Ruth, what you would find is that in the end, Naomi and Ruth did make it back to Bethlehem in Judah. Through Naomi’s wisdom, Ruth found love, peace and joy in the home of another husband, and Naomi became a grandmother. Contrary to her own belief, Naomi did have something to offer. She had wisdom. She found purpose late in her life because of the beautiful relationship she shared with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Given that day and time, in most circumstances, the lives of these women would have all but ended with the death of their husbands, but that did not happen. Instead of allowing the circumstance they were facing destroy them, they grasped the opportunity those situations presented, they rose to the occasion and met it head on. As individuals, they changed, they grew and they developed.

        As stated earlier, adverse circumstances do not define who we are. What we have been through is simply that, what we have been through. It is not an indicator of who we are.  At the same time however, they can and often do reveal aspects of who we are that we may have never known or considered. God was able to work wonders in the lives of both Naomi and Ruth because these two women trusted God within their new contexts of life. When the dynamics of our lives change, it can be at once both scary and exciting. Yet the beauty of stepping into a new context of life is the opportunity it presents in knowing God and yourself more deeply, in addition to living a richer, fuller life as a different aspect of you is revealed in response to life’s changing dynamics.

Suggested Bible Readings: The book of Ruth, Romans 4:18-20 and Hebrew s 11:11

Blessings and Peace,



An excerpt from the conclusion of, Treasures from the Battle.

     In our lives we do not always understand the battles that we must fight or the valleys that we must walk through, but remember that no battle is ever won without spoils or riches taken after the defeat of an enemy. When God gave me the title, “Treasures from the Battle” I did not feel the title spoke only  about the contents of the book or a specific challenging time in my life, instead, I felt as though the title had more to do with my whole life’s journey. The title Treasures from the Battle has to do with the beautiful qualities God wants to reveal in us; ironically, these qualities are all too often forged in times that are not easy or comfortable. The potential for God to teach us some of our most valuable life lessons often takes place during some of the most difficult times in our lives. I don’t necessarily understand why, but this is just the way God seems to work many times.

    One thing I do know: God never intends for any of us to remain the same person exiting a battle as when the battle began. Hard times are intended to transform each of us, to a greater degree, into the woman God has purposed. Again and again, over the course of our lives, God takes us through challenging times so that we might walk in the fullness of our identity. As the book of Hebrews 5:8 states, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered.” He became our faithful High Priest only by walking in our shoes and dying for our sins. Because he walked in our shoes, he has the ability to relate to us and to be sensitive to the struggles are facing. The Bible also tells us he was tempted in all points as we are, only he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) He became like us, so that he could relate to us in all our struggles. This included enduring some of life’s most difficult and stressful times.

    One of the ways God accomplishes his purposes in our lives is by drawing us to himself. In times where we face trouble or crisis, the believer will do one of two things; either she will run to God, or she will retreat from God. It is God’s desire that we run to him. All too often, in the  ordinary days of our lives that are filled with obligations of all sorts, it is easy to fail to give attention to God through prayer, mediation or the reading of his word as we should. Yet when we are enshrouded in the midst of darkness due to tumultuous times in our lives, his love, his light and his leading become more obvious. In the times when we do not know what to do or where to turn, we find our hope in God.  It is when we are looking to him alone, that he can begin to reveal to us  the wisdom and knowledge that is unique to each of our life circumstances.  Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I  will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”

    It is the things that we do not know that are going to change our lives forever. And it is these things that the Father longs to reveal to us. Unfortunately, most of time this objective is only reached in the heat of battle. In other words, most of the times, what God wants to use to transform our lives does come easy. But take a moment and imagine God speaking to you. In the deepest part of your heart: hear or feel him speaking these words,”If you will only take my hand, and allow me to walk you through time; allow me to be your support and comfort. Then I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know. If you will keep your eyes focused on me, seeking me with your whole heart, the wisdom, knowledge and peace I give become the treasures that will change your life. Only then will you experience all that you thought was impossible.”

    On the other side of hardship is wisdom, peace and reward. As long we persevere, keeping our eyes on him. God will make us victorious, for there is no defeat in him.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which is exceeds anything we can understand, will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.”

Be blessed.


Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?



      One of the songs we sang in church today was Forever, by Brian Johnson and Bethel Music. The chorus of the song goes like this,

“The ground began to shake, the stone was rolled away, His perfect love cannot be overcome, O death where is your sting, our resurrected King, forever has defeated, forever He is glorified,  forever He is lifted high, forever He is risen, He is alive, He is alive”

     As I stood there worshiping, I began to think about this account recorded in Luke 24. It says, “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

     Jesus had been crucified. After he died, his body was taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb. This was not hearsay. They had witnessed it. They had seen it with their own eyes. As hard a truth as is was to swallow, Jesus was dead. Thus, their actions, the purchasing of spices to anoint his body, in preparing it for burial, corresponded with their unfortunate reality, and their expectation.

     Surprisingly, when they arrived, Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found. While they were amazed to find the tomb empty, the heavenly beings present there were equally perplexed that they had brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  It was no secret to those in the inner circle that Jesus was going to die and rise again. He had communicated this truth on more than one occasion. Still, they arrived early on the first day of the week bringing spices because what had been true, they assumed would remain true. In other words, their anticipation was to see the result of their past reflected in their future.

     But that is not a principle of the Kingdom. God does not determine what will be, based on what has been. Instead, what will be, is determined based on what he has established and set into motion, without respect to that which may have been. That is why he called Abraham, the father of a multitude, while Sarah was still unable to have children. The Apostle Paul echoes this in the book of Romans 4:17 where he writes, “As it is written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ This is in the presence of him whom he believed: God, who gives life to the dead, and calls those things that are not, as though they were.

     Yet how many times do we limit what can be based on what has been? How many times do we determine God’s ability by our experience? They had seen Jesus crucified, his body taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb. That was their experience. That was their reality. However, based on his word to them, that should not have been their expectation. For this reason, when the angels observed them entering the tomb with spices they had prepared, searching for a body to anoint, they questioned, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?

     Regardless of what you may be facing in your life today or what you may have experienced in your past, it does not dictate God’s ability to bring about all he as purposed for your future. In accordance with this passage, the question to consider this week is, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Hear the Holy Spirit asking, “Why do you look for defeat where I have declared victory? Why do you seek death where I have spoken life? Why do you operate in brokenness where I have declared healing? Why do you settle for mediocrity when I have wired you for excellence? Why do you consider yourself of so little value when  I have created you with such great worth?”

You are a child of the Most High. Therefore, why do you base the potential of your future on the pain of your past?  Expect great things.  For with God, all things are possible. Mark 10:27

May God richly bless you this week, and my his peace be upon you.