Listening broadly

“We see God all around us, and learn to look for God in unusual places.”

This beautiful post by a fellow Patheos blogger, Enuma Okoro, reminded me of the gift of seeing broadly, of seeing God in life encounters…

Here’s the story of two other women, Naomi and Ruth, who listened broadly…

“It is no mistake that the two books named for women in the Bible, Ruth and Esther, have a similar sense of God at work.  In both books, God is more the undercurrent than the obvious force, more the One who works in hidden, covert ways, shifting seasons and using oh-so-ordinary means to accomplish extra-ordinary things.  In fact, God is not directly spoken of at all in Esther.  In Ruth, we see over and over God’s “ordinary” miracles through things that “just so happened.”

As is reflected in these two books, our feminine experience of God is often more broad, more inclusive of all facets of life.  We see God all around us, and learn to look for God in unusual places.  We hear God’s voice in a wider variety of ways, attributing more power to the ordinary parts of our daily routine.  Just as we are in other aspects of life, we are often intuitive in our spirituality.

For example, notice how the women “just happened” to come at harvest.  This was a new season for Israel, a season of abundance after many years of famine.  Working through this physical season, God was also at work behind the scenes, planting the seeds of a new season of abundance for Naomi.  Later, we discover that Ruth “just happened” to choose the field of Boaz, a close relative with the potential to act on the levirate marriage we referenced previously.  On one level, Ruth was just doing the next logical thing.  Like planting seeds in spring, it seemed so small.  But with God, “the next logical thing” can be the seed of something very big, the first sign of spring, an “ordinary” miracle in the making.

Note once more the contrast to this kind of “vague” yet valid spiritual leading and the clarity of most of the Old Testament.  This book of women and God is different.  It is amazing to me how easily that difference can be seen once we tune our eyes to it.  How healing to know that God knows and affirms our unique experience of God.

Living as Mara, Naomi was blind to many things.  In the presence of her experience of God’s hand moving against her, the hidden Hand moved on her behalf.  Though aware enough to return, there was much about this season she did not yet understand.  But it is clear that she was listening, aware of the shifting season, open to God’s voice even in a season of struggle.  The author notes for us that Ruth only went out after receiving permission from Naomi.  Even in her confusion and pain, Naomi was an active participant in God’s plan of blessing.

I invite you to walk through the remainder of the book of Ruth, looking for more evidence of the rhythm of spring, a season of grace, nourishment, and receiving.  As the story continues to unfold, the rhythms change.  We can see themes of summer as a time of active co-laboring with God’s plan, characterized by bold and passionately “hot” moves.  Summer is also that season to trust another to grow what you cannot, to consciously lean on God and wait for God to act.  And finally, comes autumn, a time of harvest and celebration, rich bounty beyond anything Naomi could have ever imagined.  With each shifting season, we see Naomi’s willingness to shift also as she lives well the rhythm of each season and her God.” The Feminine Soul

 


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