I love to spend time in God’s love letter, the Bible. And one of my favorite ways to do that is by using a lectio divina approach. Lectio divina means divine or spiritual reading in Latin.  It is a quiet, prayerful practice where we invite the Holy Spirit to open the ears of our hearts in order to hear God's still small voice speaking to us through His Word.  It is not a discipline meant to master the Word or to acquire new information or knowledge, it is, as Henri Nouwen calls it, reading the Bible on your knees...where we allow the Word to descend from our minds into our hearts and become a personal word to us.

 

But, quieting ourselves and listening for God's whisper isn't an easy thing for us to do in our hurry-up, commotion-filled world.  Yet, it is so vital to our spiritual well-being.  So...I would like to issue an invitation to you today to carve out some time over the next several days to walk with me through the book of Ruth...lectio divina-style.

 

The first thing you are going to need, if you accept my invitation, is a quiet little corner to meet with God. It may be out on your back porch or on a comfy couch in your living room, but, quiet is the operative word here. Try to make that space as interruption-free as possible. It should be a set-apart place where you enter, as it were, the Holy of Holies to meet with your Savior.

 

Have a journal and pen with you. Throughout this experience you may feel compelled to stop and write something that touches, convicts, or challenges your heart. Or you might want to dialogue with God, writing out a prayer or words that you sense He may be speaking to you.

 

Once you enter this space, take a minute or two to quiet your spirit. Ask the Savior to silence the voices that may whisper to you from time to time to draw your attention away; and ask the Spirit to open the ears of your heart so that you may be attentive to His voice alone.

 

Open your Bible to the book of Ruth. (Her story lies about halfway between Genesis and the Psalms.) Slowly read through the first chapter. I like to read it out loud just to get the gist of it.

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I pray that the Savior spoke sweetly into your life as you sat quietly with Him in the first chapter of the book of Ruth.

 

Before we rush on into the rest of this amazing story, however, I believe that we would be greatly blessed if we slowed down here and spent a little more time getting behind the eyes of Naomi and Ruth.

 

All of us at one time or another in life have passed through trying, pain-filled trials that have left us reeling.  Perhaps some of you can relate quite personally to the human tragedy these two women are passing through in this book.  As we walk alongside them, listening to their hearts, we give God an opportunity to touch us as well.

 

Before we get started, be sure that you are settled in a nice comfy spot where your heart can be most attentive to the Savior's voice.  Give yourself a few moments to sit quietly.  Ask the Spirit to sweep in and through you to clear away any stray thoughts that might distract you from meeting with God today.

 

Open your bibles to Ruth Chapter One.  Slowly read through it with Naomi in mind.  As you read, imagine her life as it was both in Israel and Moab.  Ask the Lord to help you get behind this woman's eyes, to imagine what life felt like... looked like... to her.  Allow the Holy Spirit's creativity to flow...

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Calamity and loss seem to be the continued headlines in our newspapers.  From tornado-ravaged towns, to devastating drought and fires, to earthquake and hurricane-flooded cities...many in this world of ours know what it's like to feel stripped down to nothing like Naomi in chapter one of Ruth.

 

When life collapsed in on Naomi, she felt sure that God had turned against her.  Standing in the ashes of her life, she could not foresee any sign of hope in her future.  All she knew now was that she felt stripped... her life empty, barren, filled only with bitterness.  But, Naomi wasn't the only one to have experienced loss in this story.  Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, had also seen bitter days.

 

Let's take some time this week to walk back through chapter one once more.  Open your Bibles and read the chapter with Ruth in mind, using the Holy Spirit's creativity to step into her shoes and hear, see, and feel what might have been going on inside of her.

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For those of you puttering along with me through the book of Ruth... we are now moving on to Chapter Two.

 

As in times past, before you get started, be sure you are nestled into a quiet little niche, free from distractions.  Take a moment or two to close your eyes and allow the silence to settle your spirit.

 

When your heart is ready, open your Bible to Ruth, grab your journal and pen, and ask the Savior to give you "ears to hear" His voice today.

 

Take some time to read through chapter two in it's entirety. Our story opens with Ruth and Naomi settling into their new lives in Jerusalem.  As you eavesdrop on their conversations and their comings and goings, take note of a verse or verses that stand out to you.  Jot them in journal...

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Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Proverbs 3:4

 

If there is one thing that stands out to me as I read through Ruth chapter 2, it is Ruth's loyalty, care and kindness to her mother-in-law.  Even folks living throughout Bethlehem were talking about it, according to verse 11.  People couldn't help but stand up and take notice of this foreign woman.  Ruth had willingly left her homeland and family behind, in order to be a loving helpmate to Naomi, when she had absolutely no obligation to do so.

 

Let's take some time now to dig a little deeper into this remarkable woman's life. But, before we do, make sure that you take a few minutes to quiet yourself before the Savior.  Allow the cares and concerns in your life to drop away.  Let the stillness of this moment prepare your heart to meet with God.

 

Ask the Holy Spirit to still any voices that might be clamoring for your attention and to give you ears to hear what is on His heart for you today.

 

Open your Bibles back up to Ruth 2.  And as in times past, read the passage slowly - keeping Ruth in mind.

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