Hey friend! Welcome to the 1st episode of the Tending your Soul podcast!
As I am recording this, the season in my neck of the woods is spring and all the transitions and new life that come with that are making themselves evident around me.
Along with the obvious transitions in nature, I am also currently living through a season of transition in my personal life.
From a big move a few years ago, to the grief of losing my Dad, to health issues and now launching my sons as they graduate college and high school, I am seeking to navigate all these transitions while relying on the Gardener of my soul.
Maybe you can relate to seasons of transition…job loss, griefs, health crisis, moves, marriage, babies…
and of course the obvious transitions of the last couple years globally…
As I prayed through this season of my life and considered where to tend my soul, I landed in the book of Ruth.
She is a woman who knew transitions well…she lost her husband, moved to a foreign land, was the care giver of her widowed mother in law and she even navigated a new marriage and motherhood.
The book of Ruth is set in the time of judges, when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. By virtue of that phrase alone, we know that means no one therefore did what was right, not as defined by God.
When I begin tending through a book of the Bible with my TEND method, I always start by reading through the book to gain context and I pay attention to the genre, time period and style of the book.
Ruth is a narrative, likely written during the time of the judges Jephthah or Samson, you can read more about them in the book of Judges ch 11-16, the author is unknown but many attribute the writing to King David.
So if you have a moment, I encourage you to read or listen to the book of Ruth.
But for now, let’s lean in and tend through verse 1.
As we begin with the TEND method, the T stands for take time to pray. So join me as we turn our hearts towards the Gardener of our soul.
Lord, thank you for inviting us into the garden today. Will you tend the seed of your Word into our soul as we lean in together in for these few moments today?
The next letter in TEND is E and that guides us to Examine the Scripture.
So examine the words here in verse 1 with me. The Bible says:
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
In examining this verse, we want to pay attention to the details here. This verse says there was a famine in the land where God had planted His people. This was the promised land for God’s people. And there was now no wheat for baking bread, no sustenance in Bethlehem, the House of Bread.
This place was the place of God’s promise but hardship had come to this place, for the people of God in this moment, it was due to their sin and their turning away from God, as we see in the book of Judges.
Hardship comes, doesn’t it? Hardship happens due to sin, due to our choices, due to other’s choices and sometimes just due to the fact that we live in a fallen world.
This man, Elimelech, as we will see in coming verses, was a man of Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah, a man of God, and he made the choice to go elsewhere to find food.
He sought to solve his problem his own way. His name means “God is King” yet rather than surrender to the authority of God, he surrendered to his own understanding.
Now I don’t want to minimize famine in the lives of these people who lived fully off the land and depended fully on the provision of God through agriculture. Famine was not easily fixed either. So as we examine this verse, let’s be careful to enter in and acknowledge the depth of the need this family faced and their desperate decision to solve it on their own.
Moab was a pagan town a little over 30 miles from Bethlehem. It was a 7-10 day journey on foot. Moab was settled by the descendants of Moab, the son of Lot and his oldest daughter after they escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, as described in Genesis 19.
After examining these details a bit, the TEND method guides us to N, notice the lessons.
Let’s notice the lessons being taught here, first what does this teach about God, then what spiritual lesson is being taught?
As we ask ourselves what is this teaching about God, I notice the fact that it says this was a man of Bethlehem in Judah. So This is highlighting that God is a God of promises. He gave His people this promised land for them to seek Him and know Him. Instead the people of God, this family mentioned here, chose to do what was right in their own eyes.
The waywardness of their culture was louder in their ears than the promises of God.
Isn’t it true that we can tend to hear the noise of the culture louder than we hear the promises of God? Especially in seasons of hardship and trials.
We often try to resolve things our way, trying to keep ourselves from discomfort, pain or loss and we think it will be a good temporary fix, as in this verse we see they were just planning on sojourning, yet later we learn they stayed far longer than just a sojourning and in that place of Moab they lost more than they ever anticipated, as we will see.
So if we are hearing the noise of the culture louder than the promises of God, how can we respond to this? How can we begin to hear God over culture?
And if we are trying to resolve things our own way, like the world does, how can we guard our hearts from that and instead lean into God with those places of weakness?
So how then will you respond, friend?
What action will you take today to tend this truth into your soul?
How will you seek to hear God over the culture?
For me, I always need this reminder of getting into the Word before I face the world. So I am going to choose to leave my phone on my desk away from where I spend time with the Lord in the morning, and not pick it back up until I have met with Jesus and let Him speak over me 1st.
If you’re sensing that you are a fixer, trying to solve your own trials or those of the people you love, How might we choose instead to respond with reliance on God not self?
It reminds me of Proverbs 3:5-6 which says…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
So for me I will trust Him and not lean on my own understanding/ or on what I see in my circumstances, by keeping that proverbs verse with me so when the fear that drives the fixing wells up, I can continually return my mind back to that verse and lay down my concerns into God’s lap. Especially in this transition season of launching my sons. As they graduate college and high school and questions of choices and the future creep up, I’m going to return my mind to this proverbs verse and keep making the choice to trust God and NOT lean on MY understanding.
What about you?
How will you be a doer of the Word, friend?
How will you respond to today’s tending of the Truth?
Lord, we thank you for the unfolding of your word and ask for the light and understanding we need to take the next step with You. Amen.
If you enjoyed this podcast, would you be willing to like and follow? Share it with a friend who might need to be encouraged to tend her soul by the Word today.
For more on the TEND method, I invite you to visit marieldavenport.com and download your free guide to cultivating intimacy with God, Tools for Tend in your Soul. Drop your email below to get the guide in your inbox.