Fear keeps us from going forward. It has a way of sneaking up on us and choking out all the energy and courage we might have held a few hours ago. As I type this, I’m reminiscing of the times fear got in my way.
Once I almost missed an amazing hike to the top of a mountain at Glacier National Park because fear gripped my shoes. I couldn’t move. But finally after weighing my options, I decided to cross a narrow, slippery ledge THROUGH A WATERFALL to get to the other side.
No one stood beside me to hold my hand, steady my balance. It was just me and God, so I said a quick prayer for His empowering grace and did what felt the safest. I swallowed my pride and bent down on all fours, because my balance stinks, to crawl my way through the icy water stream. My strategy wasn’t pretty, but it sufficed.
I cannot tell you the thrill, the joy, and sheer adrenaline I experienced when I finally reached the other side.
Pushing Through Fear to Find the Blessing
This is our twelfth week studying the book of Ruth. As we crawl through this beloved story, we read the first conversation between Ruth and Boaz. He has noticed her in the fields behind the harvesters and has granted her favor and protection. Ruth humbly questioned his kindness. This was his reply and her response:
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”Ruth 2: 11-13
Last week we discussed how Ruth trusted God and how her faith positioned her for protection and blessing. I always think of Ruth spunky and brave, but this week’s verse reveals something else about her; she was afraid. Despite her fear, Ruth plodded on. She walked into a farmers field and asked to glean where she shouldn’t. She was a stranger in a foreign land, a single woman, widowed, yet determined. What gave her such strength? And what blessing did she receive as she pushed through her fears?
Ruth experienced favor she would not have known if she had stayed in the house safe with Naomi.
God’s Kindness Calms Our Fear
Now that we’ve established our struggle with fear and saw Ruth’s own fear, I don’t want us to miss God’s kindness shown through Boaz that sets her heart at ease. Not only is he kind, he is generous, just like our Father-God. Boaz’s actions are both what God will do for us and what He wants us to do for others.
Isn’t it cool that this is one way God uses us to be His hands and feet and demonstrate His heart? We can be the vessel that God uses to help calm fear as well as receive God’s peace and provision.
Holy Spirit Help
It’s not our nature to be generous. Not really. Pride sits at the heart of our sin and selfishness and fear if we’re honest. But the Holy Spirit washes this darkness away as we surrender.
“The presence of the Holy Spirit in us changes our hearts. Our hearts of stone are replaced by hearts of flesh…soft, beating, loving. Good things, God things come out of a heart changed by His Spirit. The book of Ruth is a true story about real people found in the lineage of Jesus, but it’s also an allegory. Our dear Boaz represents Christ. If you ever need a picture of God, vision Boaz and his goodness, kindness, strength, wealth, and honor. Perhaps picturing Boaz will also help us identify with the Holy Spirit who takes residence in us when we make Christ our Savior. “Ruth Key Word Bible Study, p.112
Join me this week as we dig into scriptures about God’s kindness and generosity, and how the Holy Spirit helps us develop these virtues. If you are using the Book of Ruth Bible Study, we’re on pages 107-113.
Monday: Ruth 2: 13
“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
Prompt: Ruth’s words let us know that she walked into Boaz’s fields nervous. His words calmed her fears. What does Boaz’s kindness and generosity tell us about God? Have you ever had a moment like this when the Lord put a kind and generous person in your path?
Tuesday: Luke 11: 33-36
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy,[g] your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy,[h] your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
Prompt: Jesus’s words speak of being generous or stingy. If “your eye is good” you are generous, but if your “eye is bad” stinginess stops your giving. Write down a time when you experienced your heart filled with light after giving generously. (It’s a good feeling!)
Wednesday: Ezekiel 11:18-20
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Prompt: On our own, selfishness pervades our hearts. We need the Holy Spirit to move in and change our hearts. Write down the greatest commandments (the Law) Jesus taught. Has the Holy Spirt changed your heart in this way?
Thursday: Galatians 5: 22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Prompt: These qualities exude out of us when we’ve surrendered to Holy Spirit. Which one flows through you the easiest and which one do you desire to grow into? What could be keeping you from growing in this way?
Friday: Matthew 7:12
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Prompt: It’s that simple. Try making this your mantra today in everything you do, even the with the thoughts you hold about others. Think of them as you want them to think of you.
Online Bible Study Wednesday Night
The summer has forced us to be flexible! Thank you for your grace. This week we’ll try to get back on track with our Wednesday night gathering via FACEBOOK LIVE. If you’d like to join us just follow me on FB and meet us on my timeline Wednesday night at 7:30.
“Oh Lord, thank you for the story of Ruth. Thank you for giving us a picture of your kindness and generosity in the person of Boaz. We want to be like that, generous and kind-hearted. Forgive us when we don’t give freely, when stinginess pervades our spirits, when our eyes are dark. Fill us with your Spirit of light. Replace our hardened hearts with generous ones not just for our pleasure, but for the blessing of others that they might see a glimpse of you in our actions. Let us demonstrate generosity for the generations to come. Help us push through the fear and be brave! Amen.”
Digging Deep Past Fear,