survival

A Dark Fresh Start

I have read Ruth a few times and I know the majority are familiar with it, for you often hear women talk about meeting their Boaz and how like him, Christ is our kinsman-redeemer. My focus here though is in the beginning where we learn about the matriarch of the story, Naomi, who lost her husband first, then her two sons and back in those times, that meant that she pretty much lost her livelihood. What is your livelihood? Family? Career? Business? A talent? A dream? Times are different now, but there are things that make us who we are and like Naomi we get comfortable and believe nothing could go wrong. However, everything that could go wrong went wrong.

First, it is interesting that Naomi and her family went to Moab, because Israel and Moab did not have a friendly Image result for naomi and ruthrelationship and God had plenty to say about them throughout their history as well. Both Naomi and her husband were Israelites, but they left the people of God because of a famine and went and settled in unfamiliar territory for help where they probably should never have gone. Nevertheless, one can assume they didn’t trust God to keep His people in hard times, granted their story falls in the middle of when there was no king in Israel and people did whatever they wanted. Although, in the midst of all that happened, she was left with her two daughter-in-laws and was forced to go back home, learning that God was helping His people.

Naomi was a survivor and took whichever chance she had to keep her life in good standing, but it seems that she needed God to prove Himself to her that He could take care of her, and even after she returned home, she still wasn’t convinced. Not only had she changed her name from “pleasant” to “bitter,” but she made it known that God had let her down, and initially she wasn’t that fond of Ruth going back with her as if she wanted to sulk alone. Furthermore, she claimed that when she left home she was full, but it was the Lord who emptied her (and other lovely verbs), suggesting that she had no other expectations of God’s work in her situation than mere existence. But in fact, God had other plans.

By definition, you can’t blame Naomi or her family for the decisions they made and many of us have done the same thing. We make decisions in life, without ever really consulting or trusting God, even the “good” ones; we go with the flow without looking at things with spiritual eyes and we fill ourselves up and we lose focus on God’s plans, if we ever really knew what they were in the first place. This very thing happened to me. I never actually considered what God wanted for me vocationally, including my college studies, and it took a pouring out for me to get aligned; I had to be emptied. The Lord had to break me and take away my dream, my livelihood, of what I thought I was going to do with my life in order to open my eyes for His greater purpose, and by God’s grace, what I studied and experienced in school and other pieces of my life that seemed irrelevant fell in line with what He called me to do. Though, it was only His Spirit that could have revealed it to me, and I haven’t looked back.

For Naomi, she was bitter and had low-expectations, but little did she know that with all that had happened, the pieces of her past would bring her the greatest victory. Not only was Naomi apprehensive about Ruth, but it was the Lord who called Ruth, the Moabitess, into the lineage of the Lord Jesus. I can’t imagine that either of them knew God’s full plan, but Naomi was the first to notice things happening on their behalf when Ruth went to work, and hence, met Boaz. They were just trying to survive, but God chose them to change history.

Sometimes we have to start fresh when we get in dark places and go back to where we know God is, like when we have our “mountain top experiences” and we connect with God and lay our hearts out before Him, and ironically, Bethlehem, Naomi’s home, is in the mountains. So often we have to be broken and emptied in order for the Lord to build and fill us up again, which means whenever we get to the place where God is in our lives, we should live in high expectation that God will give us victory and conform our life to His best, which is always far greater than our own. In the same manner, we must ask for discernment and spiritual eyes so that we can recognize when God is moving in our lives in even the smallest ways, and if you are like me, I get so excited when I begin to see God working in the unnoticeable small ways, because I know that He is setting me up for something that is above I can hope for or imagine. So, as you be yourself for a purpose, if the Lord takes or is taking you through a breaking and pouring out season, let Him. By continually surrendering and letting the process happen, you are allowing God to pour back into you and fill you up with Heaven’s best.

 

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Fluffy

So, through some of mine own reading and devotions, I was inspired to talk about the opposing side of being you for a purpose. The more I thought about it, my concern, was that in all that I have written it may have seemed like just waking up one day and deciding to be you for a purpose will be a piece of cake and there will be nothing that will hinder the process, so to speak. In many cases, that is easier said than done.

In this society there are so many things that can hinder out light from shining, because we really want to be accepted, find a sense of belonging, and be liked. There are philosophies of how a person should be based on race and gender alone, and they definitely have their place. However, if you want to look at media alone, what is presented as the “norm” or the ways of a general groups of people is fabricated if not false, yet people believe that what they see and hear is right, about beauty, sex, gender roles, success, money, lifestyle, etc.

People are confused, male and females alike who struggle with knowing who they are and carry burdens of emptiness, loneliness and deep insecurities. These often times can be the result of parents telling them how to behave and what how they should or shouldn’t act, and not being supportive of their desires, thus have learned to conform to what a way that was pleasing to their parents or teachers or other major influences. One could say that the prescription drug issue is the result of people unsure of who they are or have been told not to be as they truly are.

Too often in this culture we try to change people and people many times have others’ best interest at heart, but it tends to add unneeded pressure and low self-esteem. Case and point, I am naturally introverted, but too many times I can recall people trying to get me to be more extroverted or have called me shy or told me that I need to open up more. No offense to these individuals, some who were family, but what they were trying to make me, I knew that’s not who I was and I was okay with who I was, but their lack of understanding or knowing how to interact with me made me feel lost and alone, as if something was wrong with me. But still, I count all to the grace of God that though I had those struggles, less now than I do now, I couldn’t make myself be who I knew I wasn’t. Even times I attempted, I feel uncomfortable, trapped, and just awkward.

In being you for a purpose, most times is not an overnight fluffy-feeling experience There are barriers and walls that need to be broken, wounds that needs to be healed, masks that need to be removed, hearts that need to be softened, closet doors even that need to be opened. Even from a young age we try to please and if our natural way of being is challenged we try to fit in or do enough to please those around us so they can care for us and attempt for their affection and love. In the process far too many lose themselves and are put in this never-ending cycle of finding their identity or just become numb to it all because they have been worked on for so long by media, by culture, by family, by their environment, almost like a game of survival.

With all this confusion that we are privy to, there is so much more value in having a Creator. The Creator knows His creation, its purpose, and how it will best function. My encouragement to you today, whoever is reading this, is to get to know your Creator and find your freedom to be all that He has created you to be. Even growing for a person like me who grew up in a positive and supportive environment, I was still a sinner. Though I never went off the deep end, I realized that for me to be all that He created me to be, there were somethings about me that I needed to change and my heart and way of thinking and motivation had to be changed into His liking. I say that because many times you will hear, as I believed, that when you come to Jesus, he doesn’t want to change you, he wants to enhance you. That is not true. Because of our sin nature and the way way we are programmed, as I have mentioned earlier, there is so much of us that God has to chisel away so that we more and more look like His Son and glow in out identities as He desired us to be. A part of which is understanding there is a time and place for everything, there is a place to be outspoken and a place to be quiet, so the more you know your Maker, the more you understand how you operate at your best and when you are in optimal position to be as uniquely awesome as you were meant to be in any given moment. God knows you better than you, and know what you are capable of better than you. Let Him come in and do his handiwork.

Yes, it may hurt. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. Yes, it may require you to take risk and take a giant leap of faith. Yes, you may have to leave some people behind. Yes, you may have to get rid of some habits. Yes, you may at times feel alone. Yes, you more often than none be the odd one out. Yes, your desires may change. Yes, you may have to let go, forgive those that hurt you, and move on. Yes, people will look at you funny and talk about you. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will fail. Yes, there will be tears. Yes, there will be doubts and uncertainties. Yes, you will question yourself and at other times question God. Yes, you will be broken, Yes, you will be humbled. Yes, you will have to empty yourself and be vulnerable. Yes, you will be in a cocoon of some sort like a butterfly. Yes, you will be purged. Yes, there will be pressure as an oyster developing a pearl or coal transforming into a diamond. Yes, you will have to go through the refining process, and go into the fire like gold. Yes, there people will walk away. Yes, there will be storms and distractions. Yes, the enemy will hunt you and go after you with all he has.

But yes, it is all so worth it. Yes, you will find freedom. Yes, you will find peace, satisfaction, and contentment. Yes, God can and will fulfill His promises. Yes, He will do amazing things in, by, through, and for you. Yes, the glory and beauty of being you for a purpose will far outweigh the struggle to get back or to finally discover who you really are, through the eyes of the One that created you. All in all, understand your Creator and you will understand you, His creation. Don’t be afraid to get back to you. Don’t give up on yourself, God, your creator still has you alive for a reason, so trust Him with your life. Don’t leave with your work undone.

Simply, put, be you for a purpose and watch God use you and position you in places you could never have have dreamed or imagined.