God of the Undercurrent
A number of weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. As I lay still in the darkness, trying to fall back to sleep, I sensed the Lord speak to me. “Ruth postured herself in a position to receive blessing from Boaz.”
To be honest, I was a bit startled by God's clarity and a tad puzzled by His randomness. I didn’t recall specifically thinking about the book of Ruth or about Boaz the previous evening. I didn’t remember any conversations at work or even seeing any memes on social media.
Embracing the silence of my world and the stillness of my mind, I simply responded, “I don’t understand.” With a gentle tone of warmth and kindness, God continued. “Earthly things have been keeping you anchored to the world. I am inviting you to actively set your mind on things above. As Ruth postured herself in a position to receive blessing from Boaz, I want you to posture yourself in a position to receive blessing from Me.”
Aren't you glad that God tenderly ministers to the undercurrents in our lives? What is an undercurrent? It is "an underlying feeling or influence, especially one that is contrary to the prevailing atmosphere and is not expressed openly" [Oxford Languages]. In my spiritual journey, it has been discontentment unspoken, yet still present... dis-ease unexposed, yet still at hand... frustration screaming, yet silent... and discouragement percolating, yet bubbles never reaching the surface.
As I began to process that unexpected and divine intervention, my heart spilled over with gratitude to God for reaching down into the depths an undercurrent in my soul of a longing for greater freedom from habits seemingly velcro-ed to the thought-patterns of this world. (I know ‘velcro-ed’ is not a word... but you get the picture).
Opening to the Book of Ruth during my quiet time, I began to journal my way through the chapters. Not having read these particular Scriptures in a very long time, I lingered over the story, noting reflections about the blessing spoken by Naomi, about the intentionality of Ruth, and about the nature of Boaz.
Over the weeks that followed, I continued that practice, relishing the reality that, “...the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man’s being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart” [Hebrews 4:12 PHILLIPS].
Still sensing God's hand reaching deep into that undercurrent in my life, I wanted to share what I am gleaning (pardon the terrible pun), hoping it might be of some encouragement to you as it has been to me. And, as always, eat the meat and spit out the bones.
The Blessing of Naomi
As a widowed Naomi released her widowed daughters-in-law to go back to their homes of origin, she spoke these words of blessing over them. “The Lord grant that you may find rest...” [Ruth 1:9 ESV]. Two chapters later, she reiterates the blessing in the form of a question, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?” [3:1]. As the story of Ruth unfolds, that blessing backflows into Naomi's life. When Ruth gives birth to Obed, this blessing of rest-oration is spoken over Naomi. “He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him” [4:15].
What is the blessing spoken over you as an undercurrent swirls underneath the surface of your soul? Rest. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” [Matthew 11:28-29 ESV]. The gift of Jesus is rest... Anapaupo in the Greek: to permit one to cease from labor to collect or recover one's strength. Calm and quiet expectation.
Beloved, victory in settling the undercurrent of worldliness will not come in self-obsessed striving, struggling, and straining, but in Christ-focused resting, abiding, and remaining in intimacy with God. That which you focus on, you give life to.
As you - the branch - actively and intentionally abide in Christ - the Vine -, the life of the Vine - the grace of the Holy Spirit - will flow into you, producing fruit - the nature and the character of Christ. It is God's grace - His empowering presence - that enables you to become all that He sees when He looks at you. Rest, beloved.
The Intentionality of Ruth
We learn something very early on about Ruth. She was intentional. Declaring her devotion to Naomi, Ruth “was determined to go with her” [Ruth 1:18]. And when Naomi realized that fact, "She said no more" [v18].
When Naomi and Ruth discover that Boaz could be a kinsman-redeemer, Ruth's intentionality is manifest again saying to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor” [2:2]. Ruth then establishes a pattern of diligence, gleaning from early morning until evening, then beating out that which she had gleaned. In fact, she continues this relationship-building with Boaz “until the end of the barley and wheat harvests” [2:23].
In an expression of extraordinary vulnerability, Ruth lays herself softly at the feet of Boaz and asks for redemption [3:9]. I was taken by the thoroughness of Ruth's intentionality as she uses the very language of Boaz to express her heart to him. In an earlier conversation, Boaz affirms Ruth’s care for her mother-in-law saying, “The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” [2:12]. And now, in the intimacy and humility of this threshing floor conversation, Ruth asks, “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer” [3:9].
Finally, when Ruth returns home and shares that Boaz had agreed, with a caveat, Naomi offered this wise counsel, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today” [3:18].
May I ask you as the Lord asked me? From whose field are you gleaning? At whose feet are you submitting yourself? Whose language are you repeating? And, after having done all, on whom are you waiting?
The Psalmist described an intentional abiding relationship with God saying, “Your kindness is a greater joy than life itself; this my lips will speak your praise. I will bless you all my life; with uplifted hands, I will call on your name. My soul will be satisfied as at a banquet and with rejoicing lips my mouth will praise you. I think of you while I lie upon my bed, and I meditate on you during the watches of the night. For you are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I rejoice” [Psalm 63:4-7]. Note the intentionality - the "will" - of the Psalmist. [Selah].
The Nature of Boaz
Upon our first introduction to Boaz in chapter two, we discover much about his nature. He is quick to bless [2:4], protective [vs8-9], and lavish in provision [vs14-16]. As the story unfolds we discover that he is also gracious [3:11], full of integrity [vs12-13], and relentlessly generous [vs 15, 17].
Sound familiar? God is the God who “bestows favor and honor” [Psalm 84:11], under whose wings “you will find refuge” [91:4], and who “blesses you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” [2 Corinthians 9:8]. Indeed, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate” [Psalm 145:8], “in him there is no darkness” [1 John 1:5], and “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” [Ephesians 1:7-8].
Beloved, I don’t think that Ruth posturing herself in a position to receive blessing from Boaz was some slimy, manipulative, selfish act egged on by a jaded mother-in-law. On the contrary, I believe her intentional choice to abide in the presence of Boaz allowed her to experience the overflow of his nature. Boaz couldn't help but be Boaz... and God can't help but be God.
Precious one, are you struggling with an undercurrent in your faith journey? Are earthly things keeping you anchored to the world? Ask the God of the Undercurrent to reach deep into the waters of your soul and take Him up on His invitation. "Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with. me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" [Matthew 11:28-30 MSG].
And now, the Lord grant that you may find rest as you learn to intentionally abide and remain in ever-deepening intimacy with God. And may you be overwhelmed by the transformational overflow of God simply being God in your everyday life. Amen.
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