At a recent bible study, the Pastor shared this thoughts on the difference between yielding and submission. “When the pressure is on we yield. Submission is when the pressure is off, and we still submit”. That thought has challenged me on how I perceive and communicate with other people and caused me to think about how intimate my relationship with God is. It makes me wonder where I am drawing the line for how much work I really want God to do within me. I find it is easy to yield to His will when it’s something I am not invested in. The challenges come when it’s something I hold dear. The one thing that has become clear is that it is truly the position of the heart, and not the act itself that will tell on us because God searches out our hearts and knows the very “secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).
When I interact with others I try to be mindful of where they are in life. But what I’ve paid less attention to is where I am in my life. If I’m in a rough patch with my prayer life, and at that moment I get asked about prayer, how authentic is my answer going to be if I don’t do a heart check first? Those ill-timed questions can come from anyone at any time. If I’m to be a light for others, I’m quite confident God doesn’t want me using the dimmer switch whenever I’m not “feeling” it. Those are the occasions when God is asking for more than a rote response. Those are the ‘designed for you’ moments where you get to share the whole story of what God has done for you, not just the highlight reels. As difficult as it is in this ‘me first’ era, we should be honored to please God and humbled at His delight when we sing His praises even when we don’t like what’s happening in our lives. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that, “it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief.” (Isaiah 53:10)
And as I think about the grief that we often experience in life that reveal our hearts and challenge us to be a light during are dark moments, my thoughts turn to the book of Ruth. In this story, Naomi tells her daughter-in laws to go back to their country, their people, and their gods, after each of them suffered the loss of their husbands. At that time, it was practically a death sentence to be a widow with no family to assist you, and from that standpoint I understand why she encouraged them to go home. However, I do wonder if that was her only motive? We have those days where we’re tired of arguing, and end the conversation by saying, “fine, you’re right do what you will”. Sometimes we’re too frustrated to explain, to hear, or to love cleanly. I wonder if Naomi was just done, and could only say what she said, which wasn’t enough to have Ruth leave, or for Orpah to stay. I also question her motives because of the first thing she said when she returned to Bethlehem, and the bitterness of those words. In her bitterness did she not have the energy, nor the clarity of mind to be able to engage with Orpah in a more personal manner – in a manner that would have encouraged Orpah to not return to her own gods. But if we read to the end of the story we find that we don’t need to worry about Orpah, and what happened to her because we begin to understand that God’s plan was to use Ruth. What crosses my mind is Naomi did not know the end of the scripture as she was living it out, she didn’t know how God would use Ruth or Orpah. And although we see that God did use Ruth in the end, I can’t help but think about the Orpahs I have missed with my willingness to only yield, and not submit to God in all things. I have no idea who God’s elect is that I am to talk to and be a light to. But I do know my desire to use my dimmer switch is decreasing, as my trust in God is increasing.