When I was a kid, it was popular to keep a bowl of mixed nuts on the coffee table. Still in the shell, the bowl also included the tools needed to crack the nuts and dig out the tasty part. I quickly learned which nuts were easy to crack and enjoy and which ones were not worth the effort. So what do an Old Testament Bible story and a bowl of nuts have in common? Let me explain.
“God is always working on an unseen plan, even when we don’t understand.” — Holley Gerth
A few weeks ago I received an email from a writer I follow, Holley Gerth. In her article she referred to the story of Naomi and Ruth from the Old Testament. She explained, because of their experiences, “Naomi has become hard and bitter; Ruth inexplicably remains softhearted and open.” Holley also shared that when her grandmother was diagnosed with polio at 29, her pastor said, “This can make you bitter or better.” Holley asked the reader who their Ruth would be. I thought immediately about my youngest sister.
Fast-forward a few weeks, when my sister and I got together, we shared stories, tears, and laughter. As I talked about some of my frustrations, the answers she offered, with love and concern, were not quite what I expected. In my mind, I think I heard a distinct “crack!”
Hours later I remembered Holley’s article and that my sister was my Ruth. Her words made me realize I had developed a thick shell of bitterness. I had to choose if I was going to stay bitter or be better. I could see that over the course of a few weeks, God used Holley’s email, an Old Testament story, and the words of my sister to reach me. Thank God He cracked my shell of bitterness.
Friends, God will never give up on you! He will always reach you. Through an email, an article, a sermon, a friend, or a relative, His ways are countless. Be open, be honest, and be grateful for His love and care.
The town women said to Naomi, “Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life. May this baby grow up to be famous in Israel! He’ll make you young again! He’ll take care of you in old age. And this daughter-in-law who has brought him into the world and loves you so much, why, she’s worth more to you than seven sons!Ruth 4:14-15 MSG
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.Romans 8:28 MSG