|Ruth and Naomi 3/25/2020 12:25:58 PM|
Today if you Hear the Voice of the Lord, Harden Not Your Hearts
Listening for God’s Voice in our Relationships
Dwelling in the Word
Naomi and her husband were living in a foreign land. Naomi’s husband died, then her two sons died. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law (Orpah and Ruth) were left to fend for themselves. Orpah and Ruth were not Israelites. Naomi decided to return to Israel, and she urged her daughters-in-law to stay and return to their families. Orpah returned to her family, but Ruth went to Israel with Naomi. This passage is the conversation between Naomi and Ruth before they set out for Israel.
Ruth 1:11a, 14-18
But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me?” 14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
What catches your attention in this passage?
What questions do you have?
What might God be saying to you?
Listening to God’s Voice in our Relationships
God speaks through others in many ways. Here are some of my thoughts:
Perhaps easiest to hear and understand is when a friend or family member shares words of encourage, comfort, joy … with you. Can you hear God’s words of encouragement, comfort, joy in your friend’s words? Can you open your hearts to receive God’s word?
Sometimes we brush off nice words without really receiving them into our heart.This is in fact a way of hardening our heart.Listen and take these words to heart.Accept them without excuses or false modesty.Then say thank you to the person who spoke them and say thank you to God.Your friend might not realize their words were meaningful.
We are more likely to harden our hearts when a friend or family member speaks difficult words to us. I am not talking about words said in anger or words spoken for the purpose of telling you what is wrong with you. These difficult words can often be said without the speaker realizing what they have said.
One of the most painful and in hindsight transformative difficult words came through my son. He was 4 or 5 at the time. There are three ways we respond to fear. Fight and flight are the most common, but another response is freeze. To freeze or shut down. When I am afraid, I freeze.
One day my young son came to me and asked why I got angry whenever he was hurt. My heart broke. I wasn’t angry. I was afraid and I would shut down. His difficult words cut through my heart. But by keeping my ears and heart open I could change my behavior. These words came from God through my son, they were in fact a gift. Just a very painful one.
One last comment about listening for God’s voice in others. Listen, especially, to children. I believe the best theologians are 5-years old. When our little ones speak about God or ask questions about God, listen! When young children speak either words of encouragement or difficult words, listen! Out of the mouths of babes. These little ones often possess profound wisdom and insight.
So today listen for God’s voice in the words of others and keep your heart open.
Almighty God, give us wisdom to perceive you, intelligence to understand you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, vision to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, a life to proclaim you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
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