She has long curly blond hair reaching just past her shoulder blades. A white Toyota Camry is parked in the driveway with the garage door open. I observe the typical yard with brown patches sporadically decorating the otherwise green lawn. There is some neatly trimmed hedges on the right and left side of the driveway.
The little girl is walking a few feet separate from her daddy but trying with all her might to step in line with him as he mows in straight lines up and down the lawn….following in her father’s footsteps or alongside his steps.
She is careful, averting her eyes from her steps to his, doing her best to mirror his steps. Surreal. I watch in awe. I can’t take my eyes off this moment in time, it takes me down memory lane of my own memories of being a little girl. Doing yard work with my step-father. I even paused for a few moments to wonder about the birth father I never knew.
I see myself in this picturesque scene….the younger me; Daddy’s little girl desiring so much to walk in her daddy’s footsteps. Can you see yourself too in this moment? Have you tried to keep up with your father’s footsteps too? What are we really desiring? Is it not really relationship? Desiring to interact and connect and learn and grow from our Daddy? Even more so with our heavenly Father .We tend to view our heavenly father through how we see our earthly father. Think of the privilege we have to be daughters of the King of Kings! On a journey with God.
As I ponder us ladies letting our hearts go on a real journey with God, there are two women in Scripture whose stories continually intrigue me. Hannah is a favorite of any woman who has longed to be a mother. You can see her pleading with God for a child, her heart so engaged she seems to be drunk. But she is not drinking; rather, she insists, her prayer is about her passionate longing for a child. “I have poured out my soul before the Lord,”(1 Sam.1:15) she says.
God gives her a son, Samuel, and with him the words that many a woman has claimed for the child of her prayers:
“For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition….So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.”(1 Sam. 1:27-28)
Now notice how her story picks up in intensity. When Samuel is at the tender age of three, Hannah brings him back to the house of the Lord where Eli will teach him what it means to serve God as a priest. Only Eli has failed miserably with his own sons, who are “worthless men,” a disgrace to the priesthood(1 Sam.2:12). Can you imagine how she felt leaving her small son to be cared for by this old man?
And what of Hannah’s own dreams of being a mother and raising children? Hannah came once a year and brought Samuel a robe she’d made him, but she had no reason to think she would ever have another child.
What moves me about Hannah is the way she engaged God. Hers is that rare mixture of relentless hope and a surrendered heart. She asked God for the desire of her heart. And God asked her to do a very difficult thing with the gift of a son he gave. I can never read the rest of her story without something melting inside me.
For as the saying goes, you can’t out give God. In the quaint words of the passage, “the Lord visited Hannah,” and she gave birth to three more sons and two daughters (1 Sam. 2:21). Her son Samuel, who grew up in the care of an old priest, became the greatest judge in Israel’s history.
I return to Hannah’s story whenever I need to be reminded that God honors our willingness to hope. When we bring our desires and longings to Jesus, he does something remarkable with them. It may not look like what we had in mind- but we do not hope in vain. I think of Hannah when I have forgotten to remember that, often, real hardship is the front edge of God’s blessing.
The other woman at whose feet I sit is Naomi. When we meet her in Scripture, she is no spring chicken. She’s old and worn out, defeated by famine and the loss of her husband and two sons. She is tired of living in a strange place. She has one more move left in her-her feet are set on returning to Israel.
Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law, insists on returning with Naomi, wanting to start life over together, But Naomi, like all of us at some points, cannot see past her losses. Just call me “Mara,” she says, which is a name that means “bitter.” She is resigned to a bleak future. “The hand of the Lord has gone forth against me,” she says(Ruth 1:13). That’s how she sees her life. Just get me home, and I’ll ask for nothing more.
Have you ever allowed a rough time in your life to tilt your whole perspective? Do you find yourself reading your circumstances like tea leaves-and then misinterpreting your life? That was Naomi’s story, and that’s why the rest of the story is so encouraging.
But God has more in mind for Naomi than she knows. For Ruth is going to marry Boaz. Ruth, the human embodiment of all Naomi has lost, is the woman through whom God will give Naomi something she would never have dreamed. A son is born- Naomi’s grandson-the gift of her old age, a child who rocks in her lap and nestles in her wrinkled arms.
As the light fades on the stage of Naomi’s life, that’s exactly where we are left-watching this defeated woman smile again. God does not leave her in some hopeless place she was only too willing to accept. For the story behind the story is this: the child she cradles is the grandfather of David, the father of the father of the father…of Jesus Christ. Naomi is the woman in Scripture whose life says, “Hold on, there’s a bigger story.”
So I ask God to keep my soul closer to that of Hannah’s. I would rather live with a heart that is repeatedly poured out before the Lord, even if it’s painful. And when I fall into Naomi’s snare of just settling because I cannot believe God would meet me in this difficulty, then I pray my eyes would be opened to see what he might put in my own lap-because he is that good.
So hold on to the wonder-“Oh Lord, I find myself praying, let me look past the smoke from the ashes of my dreams and expectations until I find You, for Christ is-as the parable claims- the treasure hidden in a field, worth selling all we own to possess. And living your real life with him is, truly, where wonderful begins.
Inspired Gal tmc