While our lead pastor was on vacation, I had the opportunity to preach through three chapters in the book of Ruth. Thus I’ll have to conclude the series sometime in August. The third chapter of Ruth is perhaps my favorite because it involves both risk and seeming risque, initiative and responsibility. Ultimately it encourages us to take action to bring God’s redemptive plans from heaven to earth because he uses human initiative. That’s why I tilted my sermon, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Because I wanted to be faithful to God’s Word, that is what I preached. But what I probably also needed to hear was one of my “caveats,” which our lead pastor picked up on. Every redemptive action that takes place in the book of Ruth is an answer to one of the characters’ prayers. In fact, some of the characters become God’s answer to their own prayers. How cool.
But God shows grace to us in weird ways. I got struck with some sort of wicked cough this week that put me on my butt for much of last Wed with a decent fever. I prayed a bunch because that’s all I could do. Then I thought, “all I could do,” is probably not the best way to look at it. My sickness reminded me of the pre-supposed place of prayer in Ruth.
Then God took away my voice. I couldn’t lead worship on Sunday. Instead of taking initiative in action and words, I had to apply a verse I don’t really like in James, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry (1:19).”
Sometimes God will graciously throw sickness our way to balance our “grab the bull by the horns” attitude with a deeper dependence. Instead we sometimes have to take a step back, and let God direct the bull.