by Deb DeArmond
While my parents made a comfortable living, they were not beyond middle class. College for my brother required an annual visit to the banker to borrow for the academic year, paying it off in July and borrowing again in August. They made sure I had absolutely everything I needed as a child and much of what I would now consider the “extras”. I was blessed and I knew it.
As a child, there were times, I asked for something extravagant for a birthday or Christmas gift. On one occasion I remember the object of my obsession: a beautiful bike, with a banana seat (remember those?) painted an exotic metal-flake purple. At one point, very near my birthday, after I had talked about it non-stop for months, when I asked, once again for the bike, my mother said to me, “Don’t get your heart set on it.”
But I did have my heart set on it. I had poured over the Sears catalog, I had visited the toy department on every shopping trip with my folks. I think I had even drawn pictures of it to hang in my room. I could envision myself on that groovy purple bike.
I got skates instead.
“Don’t get your heart set on it,” was Mom’s way of preparing me for disappointment. She understood the powerful pulse of a heart set clearly and firmly on a vision of something so specific.
I hadn’t thought of that phrase for a very long time. Then recently, in reading the book of Ruth, there it was.
The story is familiar to most of us. A widowed Naomi, decides to return to her homeland of Judah. Her two widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, set out on the journey from Moab with her. Naomi attempts to send both young women home to their mothers, and Orpah tearfully turns back to Moab. Ruth, however, cries, and begs Naomi to allow her to accompany her, declaring her commitment to her mother-in-law, her people and her God. Naomi’s response was not verbal. It was a decision: “When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in. And so the two of them traveled on together to Bethlehem.” Ruth 1:18 MSG
It stopped me in my tracks. Ruth had set her heart on going with Naomi. It made me think about the power of a heart-decision. Ruth would not be dissuaded. She had envisioned herself in a new home in a foreign land, worshipping the God Naomi must certainly have shared with her, starting a new life. Naomi saw her resolve and she relented, certain it was not possible to change her mind. Or her heart.
The circumstances of Ruth and Naomi’s life were difficult. Both are widows without means of support. Not only had Naomi lost her husband, but both of her children as well. She declares that she no longer wishes to be called Naomi, but Mara, (which translates as bitter in Hebrew) “as God has dealt me a bitter hand.” She is hopeless and discouraged, resigned to live out her remaining days in despair and sadness.
Like Naomi, we are not in control of the circumstances that we encounter in life. Often we find it hard to understand why difficulty, sadness or tragedy have come our way. At times, it’s difficult to make a clear decision to walk this out in a way that honors God and reflects the spiritual maturity that we desire so very much. Like my childhood disappointment upon receiving something other than the coveted purple bike, we indulge in a poor me pity party, or as Naomi, we except bitterness as our assigned lot in life.
God asks us for more. And He equips us to deliver on that through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Our part is to set our heart, clearly and passionately on that which will move mountains and part the waters to press on beyond our circumstances. Standing on His word, walking in the reality of our salvation and living in joy and peace – regardless of our circumstances. We might not get to choose our lot in life, but we can always choose how we will respond to it.
Ruth and Naomi saw God create a miraculous ending to their story – which contributed to our story – all of us who claim Christ as savior. You see, Ruth marries Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s. Their son, Obed, is born into the line of David, from which Christ Himself emerges.
Are you living under the circumstances?
- Financial fears
- Health challenges
- Disappointment in your marriage, your kids, your life?
Are you getting by “under the circumstances?” What are you doing down there? What’s the fear that reminds you “Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t set your heart on it?” Jesus is our hope and no circumstances are insurmountable for Him. “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.” 1 Chronicles 22:19 (NKJV)
What have you set your heart on today?
Deb DeArmond: Deb is wife to her high school sweetheart, Ron, who showed her the path to become a Christ follower 38 years ago. Mom to three incredible sons. Gigi to two perfect grandboys. But Jesus is her favorite, and the guys have learned to live with it. Speaker. Author. Entrepreneur. She is a transplanted Californian who has been a proud Texan for almost 8 years and she Ioves the Lone Star state!