A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Barley, Love, and Blogging (Or, another small lesson from a 3300-year-old woman)

wheat field w text

photo courtesy freeimages.com

Blogging unearths all sorts of spiritual questions in me.  I suppose here and there I shall be telling you about them. But one of the weirder ones involves this idea of posting the highly recommended three (three!) times a week–which to be honest, you may or may not get from me.

When my kids were little, I explained to my husband that, like a computer, he can run Happy Preschoolers version 2.0, You Get Dinner Tonight 1.0, Your Bed is Made 2.0, and Interested Lover 4.0, but you may not get Clean House 5.0. Or you can interchange a couple of those, perhaps with Wife Who Has Had a Shower 1.0, without the optional plug-in of Shaved Legs. But the computer only handles so much, you know?

Same with blogging. I need to have Educated Children 4.0, Happy Husband 6.0, Sanity 1.0, Walk with God 7.0 with plug-in Don’t Forget You Live in Africa, Freedom from House of Squalor 1.0, plus our work here. so you may not always get top performance on Thrice Blogged 2.0.

But I digress.

Part of posting is that, well, my writing is an offering. Not to you, as noteworthy as you are. But to God. (More on this later, too. I must ration some material.) And competence, as Tim Keller has written, is part of a good offering: “Competent work is a form of love.” He also quotes Lutheran businessman William Diehl: “‘Your work is your prayer.'”*

If this is my offering, I also long for this work–any work, really–to proceed from a sense of peace and faith in God rather than fear. Will I have anything to say to these people? Will they think that perhaps their time may have been better spent reading that dusty book on the back of their toilet? Will it really help them see God more? (I love Andree Seu’s advice from Dr. John Frame: Let the fruit of the Spirit be your guide. Think about how love, you, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control can inform your writing.)

One of the things I liked before having my own blog (and just freelancing for other sites) was that I could just write whenever I had a super-solid idea, one that had warmed and hardened in my brain from carbon to diamonds. Well. Maybe rhinestones. Either way–what am I doing trying to churn out something good at three times the pace?

But I believe God was asking me to be a bit less safe with what He’d embedded deep in me–summon a little courage, already; get out of the boat and watch Him. If this was my offering, well, couldn’t I trust Him to provide for it?

A friend of mine once told her that her dad always said, “If you pray for potatoes, have a hoe in your hand.” In a sense, I feel like this work is like waiting for manna. It’s always showed up. But there are occasionally those (faithless) moments where your eyes drift around your tent and say, Well. I agree it (-slash-He) has always showed up. But if it doesn’t, hope the kids don’t mind rocks for breakfast.

So much of life is like manna.

And does it mean I’m faithless if I’m racking my brain for ideas? I think not.

So my mind drifts to a passage that packages a shiny little gem for me: to Ruth, who is increasingly becoming one of my favorite ladies, despite that she is quite literally about 1000 times my age, born around 1300 BC. I have thoroughly enjoyed Paul Miller’s A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships, which continues to illuminate the depth of this ancient story.

This is what I read:

Great, great, etc. Grandma Ruth’s Tried-and-True Recipe for Success in Barley, Blogging, Love, and Life

1. Trust God with your life. “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

2. Seek to love well with your work. “Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.

3. Get out there and work your little tail off (still full of trust in God). “She came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest…”

4. God provided a remarkable, faith-worthy result: “So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley [about five and a half gallons of grainWikipedia says one ephah is a donkey’s load. A tremendous day’s work for this young woman]…And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” (Naomi is clearly quite amazed.) But the big “wow” is this: God had so much more than even Ruth’s plucky vision in mind. As in, I’ve got a generous, upstanding, well-known guy who will love you. And to top it off–the Savior of all of history will come from you.

I love this pattern. I seems repeated in the Parable of the Talents, and seems to apply to so much of the Word. Our trust is the source of our work, and never the other way around.

God takes our faith, followed by our hard work–and consistently blows our expectations out of the water.

So at this point, blogging has given me one more reason to look to the Good Hand that keeps giving me what I need. It may not always look like what I asked for (you may get Once Blogged, version 1.0).

But I trust even that.

*Keller, Tim. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work

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  1. Janel, thank you for your transparency and for “stepping out in faith,” trusting God to provide the “manna” to share with the rest of us. I loved the insights you gleaned from Ruth’s story – those were things I had never before seen. I admit I am partial to this amazing woman of the Bible, but never cease to learn from her and her faith. Thank you! 🙂

    • Ruthie, I have grown in so much appreciation for your namesake!! Her faith continues to have so many layers for me, too. Grateful, as ever, for your encouragement, friend.

  2. What amazing insight. Really gives us food for thought…
    Thank you so much for sharing….

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