“So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.” ~ John 8:28
Yesterday, Rebekah M posted about Ruth and Boaz, and touched on their lives. As the scripture says, Ruth was a Moabite woman, who married a son of Naomi. Naomi’s other son married Orpah (another Moabite woman). When both of Naomi’s sons died, she left Moab for her hometown. Ruth and Orpah started going with her back to Bethlehem when she essentially told them not to. She told them there was nothing left for them if they stayed with her, and told them to return to their mothers’ homes. They both protested, but ultimately Orpah returned to her mother while Ruth stayed with Naomi and journeyed to Bethlehem. There she worked hard in the fields, as a stranger in the land, ultimately catching the eye of Boaz, a rich relative. He was moved by her compassion for Naomi, loyalty to her (and his) family, and by her willingness to work, and so he showed her generosity. He had the power to change her lot in life, and so he did. She was rewarded and ultimately grafted into the lineage of Jesus Christ. Her son was David’s grandfather.
Ultimately, she defied common sense. She depended on God to take care of her life and guide her steps. She didn’t take it upon herself to change her course or go ahead of God’s will. She stuck to the path God laid in front of her, and stuck to it loyally, and depended on God to provide for the rest. He did. Instead of going back to a solid but unremarkable life with a new man in her hometown, God rewarded her faith and dependence on Him by making her part of the ancestry of Jesus Himself.
What became of Orpah? We don’t know, because she isn’t mentioned again. She probably remarried, and had a decent life. But not an annointed one, because she didn’t allow God to guide her steps. She didn’t do anything wrong per se. She simply followed worldly wisdom, the common sense that said ‘there is nothing for you if you follow your mother-in-law; there is nothing but a desert place, you’ll only be a stranger in a strange land. Go home where you can start over.’ This common sense sounds logical. But the scripture tells us she went reluctantly. She didn’t want to, but she gave in to this common sense. Ruth, on the other hand, ignored it. Ruth knew that her God was bigger than common sense, and her God could make a desert place flourish and prosper. She depended on Him, and not on the world. Because of that, she was blessed for eternity.
Jesus Himself tells us that He does nothing on His own, but speaks the words of the ‘Father who sends [him]’. This can be a difficult thing to read; after all, we know that Jesus is God. He is fully God and fully man, and that’s a cornerstone of our Christian faith. But that’s what’s so amazing; being God, Jesus could have taken the world by storm. Being man, He outright said He did nothing on His own and implied that He wasn’t even capable of doing so. As an example to us, He was completely and utterly dependent on God, the way we are here on earth. He almost never mentions Himself without mentioning Himself in the context of His ‘Father’. He was fully man, yet He literally had no ‘self’, no self-identity apart from God. Yet, He performed miracle after miracle. Yes, Jesus was God, and in His kingdom of Heaven He is all-powerful. Here on earth He is all-powerful – the very name of Jesus can bind demons and send them fleeing. But Jesus as a man humbled that part of Himself, and cut off His power. Instead of being powerful in His own right, powerful as God, He presented Himself as a man fully dependent on God. He was helpless as a human being, fully dependent on God, and yet even in that manifestation of being helpless and dependent, look at the miracles He worked while He was here. He took no glory for them, but gave the glory to God His ‘Father’. He let God work through Him, and worked miracles beyond our imagination.
That’s the example that Jesus gave us on earth. That’s the level of dependence God is calling us to. He wants us to be so dependent on Him that we defy the common sense of the world. He wants to provide for our lives and reward and bless, and move in miraculous ways, but we have to be helpless and selfless enough to let Him. I don’t mean selfless as in generous; I mean selfless as in literally not having an identity apart from Him. Literally being unable to decide for ourselves “my life will be better if I do this” and instead letting God guide our steps completely. Praise Jesus for His sacrificing, for humbling Himself to give us that perfect example.
For myself, I am trying to be submissive. I have been searching for employment for awhile now since moving to NY, and am coming to a place financially where I need to be working. However, it’s been hard to find a job because I have a strange schedule – my roommate needs me at home on parts of Mondays and Tuesdays, which makes a typical Mon-Fri work week difficult. Meanwhile, I’ve had a vision of myself changing career paths and starting a faith-based daycare/mom’s club for post-homeless women and their children, in conjunction with Covenant House. Covenant House is a homeless shelter for runaway/homeless teenagers, and mostly provide long-term shelter up to 18 months. For teenagers who are pregnant or already parents, they provide a daycare. After the 18 months, when the young mothers have to start fending for themselves, is where I see myself playing a role. I have no experience running a daycare, or a parents’ club, or being a support to homeless people, but I’ve had that recurring vision and God has been putting the homeless population heavily on my heart lately.
Anyway, I had an interview at a preschool yesterday, and my roommate and I prayed for God’s favor. Then I thought better of that and submitted my desires; I prayed for God’s favor if it’s His will, and if it isn’t, I prayed for Him to point me in the direction He wants me to move in. When my interview finally happened, I was basically offered a job on the spot, and then the offer was rescinded when they found out about my schedule conflict. Afterwards, on a whim I looked up the Covenant House employment web page. According to the web page they are not hiring at the day care. But I felt God say “try”, so I did. I called human resources, and guess what? They are hiring. I sent in my resume on the spot. I don’t know what God has in store for me and my life right now, but I know I trust His timing and I trust His guidance. I trust that He’ll use me in a much greater way than I could ever use myself. Today I pray God that you keep me in this place of trust and submission. Jesus I thank You for this heart for dependence You’ve given me; it’s usually a difficult area for me, but this time I depend on You willingly. I give you everything I have to offer and all that is to come, I know is from You. I thank You and love You, Lord.
I pray that you all join me in reflecting on your dependence on God, and your helplessness when left to yourself. If you were told to follow your own volition and go home to a safe life with good prospects, or follow your mother-in-law out of blind loyalty and submission, which would you choose? When it comes down to it, are you Ruth or Orpah?
And of course, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what God’s been saying to you, or if you need/want prayer over it. God bless!