"Watch carefully, young pupil," was the caption to the photo above as I logged onto the computer last night. I couldn't help but think of the verse Proverbs 4:1, "Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight." Personally, in my own walk of faith, God is leading me into new territory. He is stretching me in every part of my life. He is doing a new thing! It sounds so exciting! Everything He is leading me to do is different, even in the way I speak-- which is actually not speaking as much. To be honest, it is uncomfortable. I feel awkward most of the time- reminiscent of being in middle school. There are instances where I feel like I am pulled between emotions, one being terrified of the unknown and the other being exhilarated at the idea of climbing up the mountain I have been circling around for years.
"Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:6
I ask God, "What do I do? How do I do it? Where do I go?" His simplistic answer is, "Follow me. Be attentive." Overthinking what the next step will be can hinder us in moving forward or climbing up the mountain instead of around it. We do not need to fear the next step. It may be new, but God has us like He always has. He is leading His children, like the loving Father He is. He will not steer us in the wrong direction. And if we do take a wrong turn, if our hearts are truly seeking Jesus, He will redirect us back to Him.
The story of Ruth has been on my heart. If you haven't read the story, I encourage you to read it and pray that the Holy Spirit gives you new revelation as He did for me. In the past, I read the book Ruth and I translated it as a beautiful love story were God led this wonderful, loyal, hardworking woman who had overcome adversity to an amazing husband. A couple weeks ago, I was listening to it on the Bible App I have on my phone and I started weeping. The Holy Spirit gave me a new revelation: Ruth is like me. She is the new bride who didn't even know she was chosen.
"Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food." Ruth 1:6 (ESV)
Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi wanted to go back to land where her faith originated, Bethlehem, her true home. Naomi knew deep down God was good and He would provide for her. At first, Naomi urged Ruth to stay in the land she was comfortable with, most likely knowing the living conditions for a foreign widow would be difficult. Ruth had a choice to stay in the land she knew, around the idolatry she used to worship, or enter a new land to worship the one true God she didn't even really know yet. Ruth left the familiar for the new. She decided to stop going around the same mountain and take a step of faith to experience something different. A completely new way of life.
"But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God." Ruth 1:16 (ESV)
Ruth made a significant change in her life. The husband she loved died. She left her old friends who were worshiping other gods and living a different type of lifestyle. She lived with one person who really didn't even want her to come to the new land in the first place. She took a step of faith and then found herself in poverty, and because she was foreign she didn't have a great reputation among the Israelites. She went out on her own to seek how she would make it in this new place. She pressed in. She had faith God would provide. Boaz took notice of her. He encouraged her to stay in this new and foreign land. He gave her instructions on how to glean the fields and then he even told his servants to give her the overflow. He said follow my servants, glean after them. Boaz knew the Father's heart for Ruth, seeing the beauty in her before anyone else did. He did not shame or condemn her for being different and from another land. He simply loved her.
"Then Boaz said to Ruth, 'Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.' Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'" Ruth 2:8-10 (ESV)
What if we take a look at Boaz as an example of Jesus? The story of Ruth becomes an honest and beautiful journey to true salvation. When I compared my journey to this story in a spiritual sense, I saw myself as Ruth. Jesus refers to Himself as our bridegroom. He is our true husband. In a way, when I wasn't truly following Jesus, I was married to an adulterated version of Christianity. A husband, but not my true husband. I was overcome by idolatry in a modern sense. I served my own will and not God's. The love I used to have for my old life, the life I was married to died. When I was given the choice to leave my old habits and take the opportunity to travel to a new land, I chose to leave. I decided to live in a land of holiness and purity, a place where I was truly seeking and serving God. Jesus took notice of me. He said, "I see you. I know your heart and I see your true repentance. Come and discover this land that I have created for my people, filled with overwhelming peace and prosperity. Follow me. Learn from my children." He spoke to His servants and told them to help me. He said, "I will provide for you. Keep gleaning. Keep learning My people's ways. This is just the beginning."
Later on in the story, Ruth is so enamored with the heart of Boaz she surrenders herself to his feet. And Boaz chooses her to be his wife. Whoa!! God!! Help me with the words! There are no words. People! When we surrender ourselves at the feet of Jesus, He chooses us! He marries us! He makes us His bride!! He is the Redeemer! He says, "You are mine, and I am yours!" To top it off, He says we are going to live happily ever after for ETERNITY! If we all stopped watching Disney or Hallmark movies for a moment and read the Bible, we would realize the real Prince Charming is trying to find us, but we are looking for a version of Him everywhere else He is not.
"And he said, "May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich." Ruth 3:10 (ESV)
I am enamored with the heart of God. I am in LOVE with Jesus. He is my true bridegroom. He comes first in everything I do. And when I make a mistake, He makes my crooked road straight. I came across this amazing verse a couple weeks ago in 2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (TPT), "So, while living in this 'tent,' we groan under its burden, not because we want to die but because we want these new bodies. We crave for all that is mortal to be swallowed up by eternal life. And this is no empty hope, for God himself is the one who has prepared us for this wonderful destiny. And to confirm this promise, He has given us the Holy Spirit, like an engagement ring, as a guarantee."
The Holy Spirit pulled me deeper...
This revelation is not just what Jesus is doing individually with His people, HE is doing this with His church, His ekklesia, HIS BRIDE. We are entering into a new season. God is doing something new. We are moving to new territory. As believers, we can choose to stay where we are comfortable or we can move where God is leading us. A place we don't know yet. If we decide to leave where the church has made itself feel comfortable, we will discover the new and great things God has for us as His people. We are moving to into a new territory marked by true holiness and purity, blessed by our Abba-Father, anchored in Jesus Christ, and led by the Holy Spirit. We will be a people who have child-like faith and trust in their Savior, worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth. As God is moving His chosen and perfect Bride into His holy land, the communities who were there before may not like this "foreign" assembly. The way we worship Jesus at His feet and dance and sing new songs from heaven like David did, will make some people feel uncomfortable. We will most likely feel awkward worshipping in a different way at first. There will be times where some of us feel lonely and rejected, even persecuted. But like Ruth, a foreigner in a new holy land, she found a love she never knew and she was always provided for. As she took steps of faith into the unknown, she walked right into a beautiful inheritance. This perfect Bride without shame or blemish is chosen, is taught, is led, and married to JESUS.
"The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price." Revelation 22:17 (ESV)