Pioneering Faith

No matter how many times we’ve believed God and experienced the results of our faith, there is always a fight to stand firm in the next challenge. I don’t just set my heart and mind on something generic, I imagine what it will look like when the answer comes. I set my expectations high. I think about what it could look like, feel like and taste like. I imagine where we’ll go and what we’ll do as we begin to move forward in obedience to God’s plans.

The challenge is I can get ahead of God. I allow expectations—a picture to develop in my mind that I’ve created, and eventually I discover it’s not even close to the image of what God wants that particular thing to look like.

That brings about a crisis of belief. Did God really say we are supposed to move to another state? While we knew the answer as we began to journey forward, doubt creeps in at the first obstacle. We have this crazy idea that God’s going to come in with his bulldozer and go ahead of us, giving us a clear path, when in fact, He’s actually called us to blaze the trail.

Think of the pioneers of the Wild West. They traveled over rough country. They had no roads laid out before them. They were fortunate to have a path of travelers that have gone ahead to follow. They had to do all the firsts. They made the road; they dug the well and the outhouse.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ESV).

When God asks you to move, it usually involves putting your faith muscles (and natural muscles) to work. I want to think it’s going to be easy—and every once in awhile—it is! But usually, as a pioneer of faith, it means starting from scratch and building something.

So, when you don’t see the results of your faith produce in the way you imagined, take a deep breath and let it go. (Can you tell I’m taking a deep breath now?) I believe God has my best interest at heart. He has something that looks different—and it’s better than I imagined. It’s exactly what I need, even if it’s not what I thought I wanted—or not in the timing I expected.

Ruth’s Reward – God-given Friendships

The relationship between Ruth and Naomi has always amazed me. Naomi was so overwhelmed with grief in the death of her husband and sons that she changed her name. Her given name, Naomi, means pleasant, but she no longer felt worthy of that name. She asked her friends to call her, Mara, which means bitterness (Ruth 1:20). That puts a whole new light on Ruth’s determination and commitment to stay with her mother-in-law. She chose to love and support a bitter woman, who possibly felt angry toward God. No doubt she was suffering a crisis of faith when Naomi decided to stay with her.

I want to imagine when times were good for Naomi’s family living in Moab, Ruth saw something in Naomi—something to believe in—that carried her in the touch times and caused her to make the decision to stay with Naomi. Perhaps at some point Ruth witnessed a strong faith in the God Naomi now was angry with.

What about Ruth’s own grief? She had lost a husband, a father- and brother-in-law. She’d lost security that came with her status as a married woman. Yet, the story is about Naomi’s grief, crisis of faith, and Ruth’s decision to follow her.

Ruth walked with Naomi when she decided to be Mara. Eventually God provided for Naomi, restored her faith and family and used Naomi to do it. Two women who needed one another and held on to each other long enough to see God perform His promise . Ruth’s reward for her love and faithfulness brought her a second husband and a son, and eventually the Messiah was born through Ruth’s linage.

Where will a God-given friendship take you? Are you willing to endure with unconditional love to see God’s plan come forth?