Last-minute God {Ruth 1 part 2}

Let's break some bread
With all the action in the first chapter of Ruth – the deaths and disasters and beautiful friendship of Ruth and Naomi – this is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ verse:
“The Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them.” (Ruth 1:6)

 

I stare at that one sentence, “the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them” and a series of Biblical scenes flash through my mind.

 

  • In the beginning, the nothingness and the void, and then God spoke colourful fruit onto every tree in Eden.
  • In the desert, the dust intermingled with the bitterness of the Israelites’ complaints and God gave them ‘wotsits’ that were just enough to live on for each day.
  • The widow at Zarephath was preparing to die when a prophet asked her for something to eat. Her flour and oil just went on lasting and lasting.
  • Jesus stood on green grass with a restless and grumpy crowd and multiplied a picnic lunch until everyone was stuffed full.

 

God is the same throughout the ages – the one who looks with compassion at his hungry people and provides food for them. God is Jehovah Jireh: the Lord who provides.

 

But it feels so often that God is just a little late. God provided for his people and for Naomi and Ruth, sure – but look how long they had to wait! The widow at Zarephath was about to die. The crowd listening to Jesus were tired and hungry at the end of the day.

 

Why couldn’t God do things just that little bit sooner? Why is his provision always so last-minute? In short, why couldn’t God be a little better organised, like I am?

 

In March 2011, our nanny was leaving and we didn’t have a replacement. We didn’t want just anyone, and we were so tired. “God – why can’t you just DO something? Help us, please?” It wasn’t like we weren’t doing ‘our bit’. We were looking and making enquiries – but it was so hard to find someone trustworthy. And then, at the last minute, we found a friend of a friend who could do it for a month. We breathed a sigh of relief.

 

“God has answered your prayers!” a friend exclaimed, and I wanted to explain that no, God hadn’t answered them. Instead, we’d worried ourselves sick until I had been able to use my connections in various churches to find someone good. Naturally, I didn’t say that, because it’s not the Christian thing to do. I smiled but I muttered under my breath to God:
“I gave you the credit for that one – you owe me.”

 
****

 
God provides food for his people – this is an unchanging truth.

 

But that doesn’t mean that his followers are immune from ever feeling hungry.

 

For most disciples in the world today this is literally true. Saying grace before meals is never so meaningful as when you are living in a poor country with a poor family, your tummy is rumbling and you genuinely have no idea if there’s going to be enough food for the next meal.

 

These things aren’t simple. God is not a slot machine, a system to be worked out. People die of hunger every day in our world. Naomi and Elimelech were in Moab long enough for their sons to be married and then die. The famine lasted a long time in Israel – had Israelites been dying of hunger in that time?

 

I wish that this book dealt with those issues. But it doesn’t. It simply wants to point us to the character of God, Jehovah Jireh.

 

I remembered this six months ago when – again – we were looking for a new nanny. I was reflecting on the girls we had got to know – Lili, Sophie, Lizzie, Marie, Alyssa, Laura. As each one came into our house, our friends would wonder how we managed to get such a great calibre of nannies, who were all reliable and loved our boy. We didn’t know either.

 

Even when we had lots of notice and could start looking and interviewing in good time, we never found anyone until right at the last minute. Each time as I looked into the next week where there was no childcare cover, Jon’s diary full of important meetings, my body refusing to do more than stay in bed, I would say again in panic to God, “help us! Can you not hear our prayers? Are you not getting this?”

 

But then, each time, we would have a nanny, just as we needed them, just at the last minute. And not just any nanny, we would have amazing, better-than-Mary-Poppins-type nannies. It was almost as though there was a pattern.

 

I don’t want to sound like I’m being super-spiritual here, and I always hesitate to give a supernatural reason when a natural one will do. But the fingerprints of God are all over Ruth’s story when you stop to look and maybe His fingerprints are over mine too.

 

Maybe it was a coincidence of timing each time, but maybe it’s that God was whispering to me that He is the God who provides for His people. (At the last minute.) Maybe he would provide for me again, as he did before.

 

I did as I had before: recruited, phoned, interviewed, asked friends – but this time I decided to trust that God would turn up. And he did. (At the last minute).

 

Sometimes it is good to be like Ruth, to look at the complexities of the situation, to feel the ambiguities, and then just to trust in God’s character anyway. He did it before, He’ll do it again – it’s in His nature.

 

So I say it aloud to the world with the shy-boldness of a child who is still learning to trust: God provides for his people.
And I dare to believe that whisper: God provides for me.

 

Over to you:

  • How easy do you find it to believe that God is Jehovah Jireh, the one who provides? What has been your experience of this?
  •  
    I am itching to dig a little into the Bible. I want to hear the whisper of God in the words and lives of Bible characters. Over these next few weeks I will be doing a series on the book of Ruth, to look again at the story breathed out by God and let it write me.

     
    Do read the relevant passage and join in with your responses to (and questions of) the passage in the comments.

    • Thurs 21 Feb – Ruth 1
    • Thurs 7 Mar – Ruth 1, part 2
    • Thurs 14 Mar – Ruth 2
    • Thurs 21 Mar – Ruth 3
    • Thurs 28 Mar – Ruth 4 and overview

     

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    30 Responses to Last-minute God {Ruth 1 part 2}

    1. Farmhouse Artisan KC 2nd May, 2018 at 3:32 am #

      I’m am not a believer in God per say but I am a very strong study of the Universal Power/Source Energy. (Same thing) I came here to research awnsers as to why I have to wait till the last minute for blessing to come into my experience. Tanya, your story is just what I needed to read. And all these comments where perfectly in line. Thank you all!

    2. Amy M. 14th August, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

      I found this today at a time where I am still looking for a full time job and there is only a week and a half until school starts again. I’m not a teacher, but I’m looking for a job at a school. And right now I’m thinking of when I changed my major in 2013 and had to get approval from a professor to get into a class three weeks into the semester. At around the same time, I got a job too that I’ve worked at since October 2013.

    3. Kies 17th January, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

      Hi Tanya,

      I know this is an older post but I’m glad I came upon it anyway. I’m in a situation right now where time couldn’t get ANY tighter. I’ve been looking forward to seeing someone for 4 months now but only recently have I given it over to God. Along the way I went through horrendous trials and tribulations while this person was gone. Though I knew God was with me every step of the way, I still felt alone. People would give me advice and tell me to walk away from the situation with this person because it seemed so impossible and unlikely that it was working out in the way I’d hoped it would, but for some reason, I simply could not let go. People would encourage me to take matters in my own hands and try to make things work but the situation didn’t seem to budge.

      A few weeks ago I decided to [slowly but surely] give it over to God. Since that day He’s been working on my faith. He’s had me recall similar situations in the past when I’ve tried to take matters in my own hands but it didn’t work out until I left it to God and did as I was told m. He showed me that the details of things are important to Him just as they’re important to me, and I should trust that He’s placed those details there for a reason. He’s shown me that when I did ask for things and they took a while to happen that, throughout the time of waiting, He was working on my heart and my life so that I could receive those things with a thankful heart and be in the position to receive them. He’s opened my eyes and shown me a lot.

      Sometimes God will give us what we ask for immediately but not always in its entirety. Sometimes He’ll gradually bless us as He works on us in the process. It’s all a process of faith, endurance and trust. Mad I continue to hope to see my friend again and SOON, I’ll continue to seek The Lord for His guidance and wisdom as I move forward. I know that just at the right moment, whether I like it or not, God will come through and not only answer my prayer but go above and beyond the thing I was hoping for. When God provides, He provides exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or think, according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. It’s not ‘IF’ God can- ANYTHING is possible to those who believe!!

      ANYTHING.

      • Tanya 20th January, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

        Thank you so much for stopping by, and for sharing this story. I’m really struck by your patience and trust in God. Thank you.

    4. Liz Eph 11th March, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      Thank you for being honest ! Yes God provides. But our testimony might not be as glossy as we would want, as we think other people’s experience is. We think a miracle should just drop out of the sky without any visible source when in fact often it’s the result of someone’s generosity and hard work. We lived strapped for cash for many years but we never went hungry, but we ate some pretty odd things right from the back of the cupboard sometimes and I could make quite a lot of spaghetti sauce with just 2 burgers. We usually had a car, but once we drove past the scrap heap and saw not one, not two but three of our old cars on the tops of heaps. We have any number of car miracle stories, don’t get me started ! We were living like most of the world lives, near the edge. God provided, but I couldn’t waste one halfpenny. We did car sharing, house sharing, hand me on clothes, free entertainment. I’m so grateful for so much generosity shown to us. The children don’t remember it as unhappy at all. I remember it as wearing, like it is for everyone else who is struggling to make ends meet, living like most of the world lives, near the edge. The problem is we get distorted views of what is the norm.

      A rather nice little twist to our story is that after getting to rock bottom a few years ago when our health went too, the church we were helping fell apart, we got into debt – then God gave one of those quiet faith words and we knew without worrying that he was going to provide work. He did. Then various things. Since that point despite now being housebound invalids we actually have savings !

      I think the key is involving God in the equation. We asked God to provide for us and were very grateful for what he gives. But we also had to include him when we have, not just when we lack. It might be that someone is not seeing God’s provision because some of us are not including God’s priorities in the budget when we have got the money.

      • Tanya 11th March, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

        Thanks so much for sharing this testimony!

        I do like that you emphasise how wearing and stressful it can be to be in that situation of being so close to the edge and having God coming through. I think we can glamorise it all too often – we hear the stories of God’s miraculous provision for missionary workers, but I have seen first-hand the strain that comes from waiting for those cheques to come in, and I think just as we need to thank God even while we have stuff, sometimes we also need to plan to give and not just wait for divine promptings!

        “We also had to include him when we have, not just when we lack” – YES, and this is a real challenge too. Good to be reminded of it.

    5. Diana Trautwein 11th March, 2013 at 4:24 am #

      Well, I guess I want to argue for a ‘both and’ approach to this complex topic. Yes, surely God is sovereign. But in that sovereignty, we are invited into the mix. And we are given free will. And sin is often the result of that freedom. So. . . I guess I have to say that the OT picture of causation needs tempering with that scriptural thread. . . the one that clearly tells us we are given some limited spheres of choice, even of control. Some call it nitpicking, but I do see a difference between God causing and God allowing – a very big and important difference. To ascribe all suffering to the hand of God is very hard for me, very hard. Therefore, I am cautious about that language. To go too far down the road of everything-coming-from-the-hand-of-God takes us right smack into fatalism, determinism and puppetry. There has to be room for human agency, for the deep love and respect that God has for us, for the gift of free will, for the invitation to partnership. This is too small a box to get into this much more, but the discussion here is fascinating. And I’m loving this series on Ruth.

      • Tanya 11th March, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

        Thanks for this, Diana – yes, this is a very important part of this topic, and I would give a hearty amen to all you have written here.

        It is always hard to ‘tie up’ God’s sovereignty too neatly, when as you say there is sin and our free will to complicate the mix (and Satan and the forces of darkness too.) Did God will/cause Judas to betray Jesus? Luke’s gospel emphasises that it was Satan’s agency at work, not God’s – and yet God allowed it, and planned for Jesus’ death and meant it for good etc. Somehow these seemingly contradictory things are all held together and we can’t work them out too exactly. I also prefer the term ‘allow’ rather than cause – I think it makes things clearer.

        Thanks for this.

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