Nylse Esahc

Will You Trust God?

Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food (1 Kings 17:4).

My mom always said I was scornful. It wasn't "have it your way at our house"; whatever she made for dinner is what we ate. I always despised discernible fat on meat - if I could see it, I wasn't eating it. Growing up there was a cut of beef called salt beef that was popular for a while. It was flavorful but lined with fat. Then there was okra - it was slimy and I never enjoyed it. If it looked gross to me, I turned my face up, picked around it, and only ate what I found palatable.

So I can't imagine being fed by ravens like Elijah was. After Elijah announced to King Ahab that there would be a famine he was further instructed by God to go to a brook, and the ravens would provide food for him there (I Kings 17:1-6).

As God promised, the ravens - an unclean, scavenger, corpse-eating bird, brought him bread and meat in the morning, and in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. I have imagery from a Bible storybook read to me as a child where these birds are carrying this food in their beaks and dropping it off to Elijah. If I were Elijah I would have so many questions - where is this bread coming from? Is it clean? What kind of meat is this? How do I clean it? Can I eat this? I was scornful!!!

God's provision is not always what we're familiar with but it is what we need. This food sustained Elijah while increasing his dependency on God. He became more attuned to the word of God.

When Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples, they had no idea what He was talking about, yet it was the best gift he left us. Through him, we live and have our being, through his Spirit we are empowered. Because we have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit we are equipped for the journey ahead. We are equipped to handle whatever life throws at us. Just like Elijah was.

Ultimately, my likes and dislikes won't matter if I'm willing to trust God. Are you trusting God to provide?

nylse-headshotNylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.



A Community of Women

There are many beautiful things to love about the story of Ruth in the Bible but what stands out most for me is the community of women. Communities are typically unified in purpose, connection, and culture. It's a space women need but won't miss until it's not there. 

Naomi and Ruth are women returning to Bethlehem in Judah. Their integration into the larger community of Bethlehem is highlighted by the community of women.  

The story starts during the time of the judges. If you've read your Bible or perused through my study of the book of Judges on this blog, you'll know that this was primarily a chaotic time. This was a miserable period in Israel's history when a vicious cycle kept repeating itself: idolatry, enemy oppression, God raising up a Judge to deliver them, a time of peace and repentance, and then back to idolatry again.

Naomi chose to go back to Bethlehem because her people were not experiencing famine. She started the journey with her two daughters-in-law but eventually, only Ruth continued on with her. Naomi's boldness, faith, dedication, and wisdom stand out.

Ruth was a Gentile - a Moabite influenced by her mother-in-law's faith and actions. Ruth's selflessness, dedication, and humility stand out.

But there are other women.

When Naomi and Ruth first returned to Bethlehem, the whole town was excited, and the local women exclaimed, "Can this be Naomi (Ruth 1:19)?" That question rings with joyful surprise and anticipation.  After a long journey preceded by loss, Naomi is noticed by a community of women; Naomi's presence was missed. Upon their arrival, Naomi is welcomed back as a part of a community of women.

As the events unfold - Ruth gleaning in Boaz's fields, Ruth finding favor with Boaz, Naomi mentioning that he's a kinsman-redeemer (i.e. a relative of her dead husband that can better their situation), Noami providing instruction for Ruth and Boaz to connect, and finally Ruth and Boaz marrying - the women don't miss a beat.

After Ruth and Boaz are married and have a son, once more, the women said, "A son has been born to Naomi," and they named him Obed (Ruth 4:17).

Naomi takes the baby to her breast, and it is she who is blessed by the other women: “Blessed be the Lord, which has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed your daughter-in-law who loves you and is better to you than seven sons has given birth to him (Ruth 4:14-15).

In the closing scene, it's all about women. The new baby is not related to Mahlon, Ruth’s late husband, however, the child ties the women together and brings them both a gift of new life. By displacing the birth onto Naomi, the women emphasize its significance for the tribe of Judah. 

When we consider all that Ruth has done for Naomi, we see a pattern of love that is not lost on the women. These acts and the birth of the son cause the women to consider Ruth more worthy than seven sons. Ruth takes Naomi's place in a relationship with Boaz to provide the progeny that will rescue the two women from poverty, restore Naomi to her former position in the community and help Ruth, a convert, be accepted as a member of the Jewish people. 

Obed's birth represented redemption and renewal for Naomi and Ruth. Obed is mentioned later in the Bible as the great-grandfather of King David (1 Chronicles 2:12) and then as one of the ancestors of Jesus (Matthew 1:5, Luke 3:32).

Communities connect as they talk, embrace, acknowledge and meet needs.

These women named Naomi's grandson. They were a unit, playing a vital role in their community. These women knew Naomi and noticed her when she returned. She returned differently, but they were still there to welcome her. Her circumstances had changed drastically, but they still saw her. It seems there was no judgment, just an acknowledgment of who she was. After all, who of us has not been affected by our circumstances? 

The women saw her circumstances change from sorrow to joy. These women acknowledged her, saw her, welcomed her, and blessed her.

This community of women was beautiful in their disposition and their role. In chapter one, they listen and observe; in chapter four, they speak profound words - blessing Naomi and naming the baby. I want to be like these women: seeing, caring, welcoming, knowledgeable.  

Yes, may we all have these types of women around us.

The women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Ruth 4:14-15

Are you part of a caring community of women? How have you been affected by a community of women?

 

nylse-headshotNylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.



How to Have Zen-Like Peace

The phone rang. By the time the conversation was over, it felt like someone knocked the air out of my chest. Before I answered the phone I was happy, content. I noted that I had a zen-like peace. It was strange because there were anxious circumstances around me – family, job, relationships. I was beginning to revel in this feeling of peace which defied any human understanding.

After the phone call, the brick on my chest was painfully palpable. It hurt to breathe. But I had to keep going. I made some panicked phone calls then walked around the block with my husband. I started to beat myself up, wondering what role I played in this outcome. I came up empty. Then I started to ask why. The why seemed loud initially, but that zen-like peace wouldn’t disappear; it started to overwhelm me supernaturally. 

I was hurt but at peace. 

I was shocked but at peace. 

I was puzzled but at peace. 

Even later, when I started to worry about the more practical matters of life, I was at peace.

This peace isn’t delusional; it allows me to express all my feelings yet know that everything is working for my good. Where I want to ask why, my bigger thought becomes, “What am I protected from? What are you showing and teaching me?” These thoughts are a shift in perspective signaling personal growth. I'm grateful for growth. 

Though I hurt, the peace that was always there started to do what it does – comfort, uplift, rewire, soothe. My husband prayed for me, and that simple act opened up the spigot for more peace. Pray provides peace.

There's a chapter in my book called Why Trials Won't Destroy You. The disciples are walking with Jesus on the way to the Kidron Valley - the place of his demise. As they walked, one of the first things they heard was how difficult it would be; living for Jesus would try each of them. There's a purpose in our trials. But we can have joy and peace He promised.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

After the phone call was hard. Eventually, I knew that I would be ok because I have a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6,7).

Do you have peace in the midst of your difficult situations? It's available; grab it.

Dear Lord, I thank you that your peace is available to us regardless of what we're going through. I thank you for your reassuring words that you've given us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank you for the gift of your peace. May we realize what a blessing this is. In Jesus' name. Amen.

nylse-headshotNylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.