A few years ago, I was reading in Lisa Brittain’s wonderful devotional, 31 Days of Gleaning with Ruth, and I came to the portion of Ruth’s story when Naomi’s next of kin gave over his right to redeem the land. (If you aren’t familiar with the story, I highly encourage you to read the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. You will not be disappointed.) While we normally focus on Boaz redeeming the land, someone else had to give over their right to the land first.
And Lisa’s question for that chapter touched something deep in my heart:
“I am reminded of these words of King David in 1 Chronicles 21:24 NLT:
“No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!”
Is there something Holy Spirit is stirring in you, as He is certainly stirring in me with regards to giving up first rights?”
(Brittain, Lisa. 31 Days of Gleaning With Ruth: Questioning My Way Through a Famine Season Kindle Edition.)
And I knew what the Lord was asking me to give up. Decades ago I surrendered my heart to the King of the Universe. He gave up His own dear Son for me. And His Son gave up His life for me so that I could receive His Grace. But all these years later, there are still things in my life, things that are only mine to give, that I have held tightly to. There is something that I have felt I needed to watch over, to maintain, to try with all my being to make better somehow.
My health–or more correctly, my ill health–is what He has been asking me to give. It is wholly mine to give, but it is to be HOLY unto the Lord: given over totally to Him. And in that giving He wants to bring me to a place of sweet trust in Him.
And then He asked me to look back yet again. Other decades came and went, and other surrenders followed as my husband and I served the Lord with our physical and creative selves. We were Children’s Pastors and Young People’s leaders for much of our married lives–planting seeds, tending the fields, and watching over the harvests as young lives grew before us. We worked until our strength gave out, and then we worked some more, always on the move.
But when my health gave way, and then my husband’s health collapsed too, the serving ended and new surrenders were brought forth. New Laments and questions were stirred.
The work wasn’t finished, the fields were still ripe, and the corners of the fields were glowing with unharvested grain.
How could it be that He would ask us to rest, to lay the Harvest down, when it all felt so unfinished?
Leviticus 19:9-10 ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.
The story of Ruth came into view again. The beauty of her heart, gleaning in the fields, is what captured the eye of her suitor. Boaz, a picture of our Kinsman Redeemer, lay on the threshing floor where the corners of his garment were ready to be spread over the humbled feet of the foreign gleaner.
Am I so far removed from the ancient story that I cannot see the truth of our Lord?
He asks for my all, my surrender of who and what and how I thought I should live.
It cost everything for Ruth to travel the miles with Naomi.
He asks for the humbling to glean in His fields, to wait upon the Redeemer, because the harvest is HIS.
And HE will spread His garment over me, inviting me to see the precious gift behind the veil that awaits us all, His Bride, His love.
The Children Dance
The children danced and the little ones sang
As the older ones looked on in joy
That’s my son up there! That’s my girl!
The Mama hearts beamed, the Papa hearts rang.
And I felt the joy of both, perched in between
A Mama myself, and the teacher too
Those are my babies up there! Those are my kids!
The teacher’s heart glowed, with a golden sheen.
But God called us out, away from that place
My Mama heart gathered, teacher’s heart cried
There go my babies! Here come my kids
A pain lodged deep while beginning the chase
Starting over, beginning again, cycle repeating
The children danced and the little ones sang
There go the babies! Here come my kids
A shift and a wall were so slightly beginning.
Better hold onto my heart, keep it apart
Never know when the leaving might come
Never know how the serving may end
Never know if the hurting might hit my heart.
The children danced, and the little ones sang
But the joining and caring became surrender
The pouring of my heart felt like bleeding
I knew what was coming, the bell always rang.
Over and over my fault or theirs, we never knew
Because God called us out, pulled up the stakes
Sent our hearts reeling, longing for home
Pausing for just a glimpse of sweet dew
Until the song changed and the dancing was stilled.
The aches were brought forward, one by one
When the finger of God lifted the veil
Come up here with me, His song my soul filled.
He touched the wound around my heart’s rim
The places I longed for those souls I still loved
Where I thought I had kept myself held apart
The bleeding had only joined me with HIM.
The children dance, and the little ones sing
And the Father who loves each one as His own
That’s my son up there! There goes my girl!
He waits for the day when the trumpet will ring
All bleeding finished, all aching done
When the Father’s longings are all fulfilled
For all of the praying and searching and serving
Finally captured all love will be won.
Our true Kinsman Redeemer is nearer than we could ever imagine. And He is calling, calling, calling unto us, His beautiful foreign gleaners.
Will you join me as we lift our eyes to Him and cry out to see the corners of His garment spread over us? And He will be found by us.
Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near.”