day 17: brave in the mundane

It is so much easier to feel brave about a big hypothetical situation then it is to be brave about a real situation, even if it's relatively small. It is one thing to be brave on the mountaintop, to be brave walking on the water, or to be brave in fire. To reach for faith in a moment of victory or crisis. It is another thing altogether to be brave in the weary seasons of life that feel like you're just slogging through the mud.

Last year my "word for the year" was "Brave". It felt like God was calling me to go out into the deep places with Him, where the waves were crashing and the water was deep. My circumstances were feeling equally intense and it made sense. So I started the year off with big requests for God to take me deeper, to increase my faith and to help me learn what it means to live bravely, but after a couple of weeks I felt like the tide went out and I was left standing in the mud. Knee-deep in ordinary life, slogging through homework and dishes, pregnancy hormones and pre-teen drama, up to my eyeballs in laundry, grocery shopping and overdue library books.

Looking back at that year I believe this season of "slogging through the mud" was more formative than I realized it was in the moment. In the moment it felt ordinary. Now looking back I see God testing me, seeing if I would be faithful when the emotional high had passed and the tide of my feelings had gone out. I learned a lot about preserverance and about setting my face in the direction I felt God leading me and just moving forward in that direction trusting Him with the outcome.

Ruth is one of my heroes in the category of ordinary obedience. She took small steps of ordinary obedience that all led up to an extraordinary outcome and a mighty spiritual heritage. She was a woman of preserverance, faithful with the little and the lowly things but ultimately a precious mother in the linage of Jesus.

Ruth's story is also a story of love. Just like joy makes me strong love casts out fear.

Today we are going to begin our journey with Ruth - if you have the time today I'd recommend you just read her whole story from beginning to end to get a big-picture overview of the whole thing, but if you're pressed for time just read the first chapter - that's where we'll be camping out during today's study.

Read: Ruth 1

As you read jot down any questions you have or general observations.

Reflect: Be sure to pause after verse 5 and let the emotional impact of what you've read sink in. Yes, we know that Ruth's story has a happy ending, but she doesn't. She's at a pretty dramatic low point in her story. Can you even imagine what this must have felt like? I can only scratch the surface of what this must have been like for them.

Verses 13, 19-22 are really important for how we respond to difficult circumstances in our lives. Naomi blames God for her suffering and obviously feels that God has turned against her or is somehow punishing her. But we see at the end of verse 22 that God was still right there with them, providing for them, leading them towards a good future full of blessings. He brought them back to their hometown at just the perfect moment when they would be able to survive.

How does Ruth show bravery in the beginning of her journey? 
How does Ruth express her love for Naomi? 
How do you think those two are related?
What do you need to be brave about right now?
Is God calling you to begin something new? 
Is it time to leave your spiritual Moab and head to Bethlehem?
How do you respond to God when life starts to feel more than a little bit crazy? 
What is God saying to you about this?
Write a prayer confessing God's nearness in the chaos, weariness and/or strait-up grief.
How can you express love to those around you TODAY?

Optional extra verses:
Psalm 34:18 near the broken-hearted
Isaiah 26:1-4 kept in perfect peace
Isaiah 54:10 my steadfast love shall not depart

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