Go Out In The Fields

God is faithful and provides for His people. Yet this doesn’t mean that we are to just sit idly by and wait for God to abundantly bless us according to His great love. No, oftentimes we are told to work diligently and with discipline, and through this God blesses us with all that we need. fields

The book of Ruth has much to say about this very subject. Ruth experienced the providential care of the Lord, yet she experienced this via diligent work in the fields. Ruth is an example of Christ-like living in so many ways that I seek to emulate her in, and one such way is her work ethic. God would meet her needs in incredible and inexplicable ways, yet this would be done because she chose to go out in the field and collect grain that wasn’t being used (Ruth 2:3). Even after God chose to provide for her through the loving care of Boaz, Ruth still committed to working day after day in the fields in order to receive this provision:

So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law. – Ruth 2:23

Since I’ve moved to Phoenix I’ve experienced this truth in many ways. God has been faithful to provide for me financially, yet not via me just sitting in my bed. Too often that has been my response to any fears I have about surviving financially in Phoenix. I could show you countless journal entries asking God to help provide for me financially. Countless entries with no plan of action in-between. This wasn’t me walking in faith. This was me laying in laziness. I would be lying to say I wasn’t at first overwhelmed by the daunting nature of rent costs and utility bills combined with the lack of knowledge regarding the job market here in the West Valley. However, I needed to act. When I did, God was faithful to provide.

The Scriptures say that every good and perfect gift is from Him, and this includes jobs. It’s been a carousel of part-time jobs since I got here four months ago, yet God has been faithful to provide me with a new one each time I stepped out in faith and applied or professed interest in a new one.

This is not of my own doing. God has been gracious to give me parents that instilled a deep work ethic in me as a teenager. I by no means have a perfect one, and I’ve not been excited to give my all in every job I’ve had out here (I’m looking at you, early morning janitor shift. Seriously, nothing tested my faith in this truth more than my 3:30 AM alarm clock going off.). Yet whenever I’ve gotten scared about my finances or have been overwhelmed when a job doesn’t pan out the way I planned, God has been faithful to supplant in my life a new one to fit my needs just as I’m crying out to Him for help.

God’s provision comes in a myriad of other aspects of our lives, not just financially. Let me give a couple other examples.

In ten days a team from Oklahoma Baptist University will be arriving to partner with Wellspring Church and engage with different worldviews that are on display in the Phoenix area. I was given responsibility to schedule and host this team for the nine days they are here. Week after week I was overcome with anxiety of making all that needed to happen, happen. Like clockwork it seemed that every Monday I would get overwhelmed with all that needed to be done and I would cry out to the Lord for help. Then the next Monday would roll around and I would cry out to Him again. It was only after reading Ruth’s story as part of a devotion that I realized I needed to go out in the fields so to speak. That afternoon I made all sorts of phone calls and then got the whole trip mapped out in just that one day. God was faithful to provide me with favor in all the connections I made, but I had to step out and make the connections. They weren’t going to magically appear in my lap as a result of my prayer.

Spiritually speaking, this is true as well. I’ve journaled a bazillion times (this a rough estimate) about wanting to have my heart grow in some way. Whether it’s the courage to share my faith daily, the desire to pray constantly, the discipline to memorize Scripture, the fortitude to fight for purity, or the desire to have a Christ-centered dating relationship, those things don’t happen unless I go out in the fields spiritually.

Only when I share my faith will I experience the courage in that moment. Only when I make it a habit to pray even when it’s hard and I don’t know what to say will the desire to pray more arise. Only when I fight with no compromise will I experience purity. Only when I guide my heart and Jamie’s to Jesus will our relationship be centered on Him. Only when I set out to memorize a verse will I memorize a verse (this last one seems obvious but I’m telling you too often I just envision and don’t act).

God is faithful. God is beyond my mind’s comprehension. There is definitely no limit to what He can do. He can choose to bestow blessings whenever and however He sees fit. Yet I’ve seen in Scripture and my own life that it takes me stepping out in the fields of faith that He blesses me with the grain of godliness.

Whatever you are lacking, go out into the fields. Emulate Ruth, walking and working diligently in the strength of Christ.

Our God is faithful to provide and He promises to care for His children.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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I Am Naomi

I have a heart that is fickle and discontent. I cry out against the Lord when I feel slighted but then ‘joyfully’ thank God for His kindness and provision as soon as things are going my way. I am Naomi.

The story of Ruth is one that I’ve been drawn to many times recently. It’s been particularly fascinating as I’ve realized that it is a story of God’s provision in a time of need as well as a story of simple faith. The book of Ruth is not like Exodus. It is not full of eventful miracles like the parting of a sea or various plagues that lead to redemption. No, the book of Ruth is about two women who were empty but found fullness in God. The book of Ruth is about God’s wonderful and ever-present care in one what would appear random family’s journey. As I’ve been walking through the book with a devotional by Mike McKinley, I found myself realizing that I was in fact Naomi.

Naomi was a widow, finding herself with a dead husband and two dead sons. She was broken and confused and in a foreign land. Orpah and Ruth were her daughters-in-law, yet only Ruth chose to return to Bethlehem with her. When they arrived, the whole town was excited and cried out to Naomi. This was Naomi’s response:

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 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.” – Ruth 1:20-21

On one hand, Naomi had a correct understanding of God’s sovereignty and control over all things. She on the other hand however forgot that not only is God great, He is also good and orchestrates all things to best glorify Him which in turn brings us the most good. She asked the town to call her “Mara” which means “bitter”. She was so distraught she proclaimed that they should refer to her as essentially the bitter one.

Fast-forward one chapter. In chapter two, God provides for Ruth and Naomi through Boaz. Boaz was their relative and allowed the widowed Ruth the opportunity to safely gather grain in his fields with the protection of his workers. It is a moment of great joy as Naomi acknowledges God’s care all along.

“The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative, he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” – Ruth 2:20

The Lord is no longer referred to as the one who brought down misfortune on her. Rather, Naomi refers to the Lord as He who has not stopped showing kindness to the living and the dead.

I wonder if Naomi would want to take back what she had said a chapter earlier. I wonder how often I am just like Naomi. One minute I’ll be crying out in anger at the Lord about all He has taken away from me, and then the next I’ll be praising Him for all that He’s doing in my life at the time. I would encourage you to read the Psalms and be encouraged that there will be times of heartache and doubt and times of joy and gratitude. However I would also caution you against criticizing God’s plan for your life (as I often do to be completely honest). Let us all push back against the Naomi in each of us. Let us be men and women of God who praise God in the storm and praise Him in the clear blue skies. Let us praise Him in the grief and praise Him in the celebration.

Crying and feeling heartache are not what I’m speaking against. I’ve had bouts of tears regularly in this most recent season of my life. When it becomes dangerous is when I begin to call out against God’s plan in my life due to my discontent and due to things not being perfect. Contentment is what I’m desperately fighting to secure in my heart and in my life. Hopefully this following passage will help.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Do you ever find that your heart is fickle, complaining about God’s provision for you one moment and then joyful when you later get what you want? What would be a godlier attitude in these times? – Mike McKinley 

We take nothing out of this world. Nothing. If we have food and clothing, we should be content with that. I know that’s hard to actually live in but I’m striving to. I don’t want to be Naomi, I don’t want to have a fickle heart.

Let’s strive together for contentment.

– Nate Roach