Thoughts-from-the-cross-traine

Article 27 : Thoughts from the cross trainer - A change of season


Well, we’re in autumn now. I think this is my favourite season! I love the watery sunshine, the shorter, darker days, the beautiful colours of the trees as they begin to turn and shed their leaves and I enjoy seeing our twinkly lights come on earlier in the garden. Thankfully, even though we’re in the second season of Lockdown, at least most of us can go walking with a friend and enjoy some fellowship and the beauty of the outdoors that way.

We’ve also entered a new season of prayer and fasting to contend for the fulfilment of the promises the Lord has given us for our families, region and nation. It’s been great to see so many faces and households joining together and being co–labourers with God Himself for His purposes, on our Zoom meetings.

I just love seeing and hearing the various members of our Bethshan family talking in their own unique way to the Lord. It is so encouraging and so faith–building! It feels like we’re redeeming this time of Lockdown 2 and not just enduring it, with various attempts to cheer/distract ourselves like we did in Lockdown 1 – like baking sourdough bread (I didn’t), cheese scones (I did, courtesy of Marna’s fab, once secret, recipe!), sorting out cupboards and wardrobes, (OF COURSE I DID!!), gardening and fence painting, (yes, again), learning a foreign language (that’s a ‘no’) and reading War and Peace (did that years ago).

Now, I’m sure it’ll come as a great surprise to you that I’m a Radio 4 listener – I know, you had me down as one who’d be laying down some moves to the beats from Spotify (I don’t even know what that means!)

It was announced on the radio (or ‘wireless’ as we oldies call it) a week or so ago that the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, had died. He was a regular contributor to ‘Thought for the Day’, one of my regular listening spots on that channel and they replayed one of his broadcasts, as I was thundering away on my cross trainer. It was about the loving–kindness of Naomi in the book of Ruth and prompted me to read the book again.

So, I read again the story of Naomi and her daughter–in–law, Ruth. Naomi, her husband and their two sons had left Bethlehem because of the famine there and travelled to the region of Moab. There her husband died and her two sons married Moabite women, one of whom was Ruth. Further disaster then struck Naomi in that both her sons also died.

She then heard that there was food again in her homeland and decided to return there alone. One daughter–in–law remained behind. However, Ruth insisted on leaving all she knew in Moab, including her family, to accompany Naomi, declaring her loyalty to her and to her God, even though her future looked very uncertain.

When they arrived back at Bethlehem, the people there could hardly believe it was Naomi. I think the tragedies she’d suffered had really taken their toll on her.
 
19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” 22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter–in–law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. (Ruth 1:19-22)

What a change of season for Naomi! She felt that God had turned away from her and that she had no hope. However, the Lord had certainly not forgotten her, quite the contrary! He was moving people around and arranging circumstances to bring about His plans and purposes.

Many of us will know that Ruth then went out into the fields to glean the left–over grain behind the harvesters, so that she and Naomi would have food. It just so happened that she was working in the fields of a man called Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi. Ruth gained great favour with him and he instructed his workers to take special care of her and to make sure she had plenty of grain to take home.

As the story develops, Boaz then married Ruth and the Lord gave them a son, Obed. This totally changed the season for Naomi from one of despair and lack, to one of provision, joy, hope and a future, and great destiny in the nation of Israel, as her son Obed became the grandfather of David, who later became king of Israel and was in the ancestry line of Jesus.

It reminded me of prayers that were prayed in one of our prayer meetings this week for God to move people, even those who don’t know Him yet, into places of influence both in the region and nationally, who will work for the blessing and good of the people and not just for their own agenda or enrichment. Just like He did for both Naomi and Ruth. They weren’t seeing the big picture at that time, they were just doing what they thought was right and the Lord was working out an incredible destiny.

Though there are many challenges and difficulties that we’re all living through in this season of Lockdown 2, God has not abdicated His throne – He is still sovereign and He is working out His own purposes! We have the incredible privilege of joining with Him, of listening carefully to His voice and obeying Him.

When Naomi was at her lowest and had little hope, she set out to return to her own people, to where she thought she just might receive help. I’m so grateful that we all know where our source of provision and protection is …Jesus.

Pastor Tim has been encouraging us to pray down the blessing of the kingdom of God on our own lives, our families, our region and our nation and the blessings of provision and protection are both to be found there!

So, we rejoice in this new season of ‘contending’ and look forward with great anticipation to see what the Lord will do in us, through us and for His kingdom and His glory!


 

 
by Ev Cowan Blog #8, 17/11/2020