“I have won and I have lost. I got it right sometimes, but sometimes I did not. Life’s been a journey. I’ve seen joy. I’ve seen regrets. But You have been my God through all of it.” (Colton Dixon’s “Through All of It”)
We were sitting in the living room on a regular Monday evening. I’ve been reading the book of Ruth during my times with The Lord and was overwhelmed again at how beautiful that story is. The graciousness and kindness shown to Ruth by Boaz. The love story God wrote through them is amazing. So I thought we would read a chapter together as a family.
So many questions come to mind as I read Ruth. Should Elimelech have led his family to Moab or stayed in Judah and waited on God to provide for their needs? Why did the boys marry Moabite women? Should Orpah have stayed with Naomi and Ruth? Was Naomi being selfish or selfless when she wanted the daughter in laws to leave her alone? If she trusted God so much that it positively affected Ruth, why did she later consider herself bitter and think God had afflicted her? Had God been too harsh to this woman? Is there any hope for someone who has lost husband and children? Seems a bit much to me.
When the full weight of Naomi’s loss hit her, did she have some regrets about coming to Moab? I imagine she did.
I haven’t experienced loss like Naomi has, but I have looked back on decisions with regret. Choices I made that I wouldn’t make again. And yet in all of those I can still see God’s hand on my life. The jewels He unearthed in my heart through the rough times of my life now shine so brightly that I can see His hand in all of it, and I wouldn’t change a thing. He has wasted nothing. He is a Redeemer—buying back what others don’t want and making it beautiful. He is My Redeemer.
We read Ruth 1 as a family. We discussed it with our kids some and then we listened to Colton Dixon’s song, “Through All of It.” I was sitting on the couch that faces my wall of family pictures. There are quite a few pictures on this wall, and I love it. I could cover every wall in my house like this if Josh would allow it.
As the words played to the song, I scanned the pictures. And tears welled up in my eyes. I see a picture of my dad and me. We butted heads more times than I care to remember during my growing up years. I see pictures of my sisters and me and my mom…and I recall that I was not easy to live with. Thankfully, we all have a good relationship now. I see college pictures of Josh and me. What a God-send he has been to me. And then our wedding picture. I love being married to Josh; I wish I had been easier to live with at the beginning of our marriage. I can easily think of times I wish I could rewind and change my reaction or response to him or my expectations of him. These last fifteen years have been amazing as the Lord has grown us through marriage. I see pictures of three babies! Wow. Those were such joy-filled days and also some of the hardest days of my life. Some days were sweet and full of snuggles and love, while others started off with a tired, grumpy mom and only went downhill from there. I see pictures of Josh’s mom and dad. She isn’t with us anymore here on earth and how God walked us through that time is very special. Irvin and his role in our lives means so much to us. I see pictures of our first camping adventure as a family…a family trip to New York…Josh and I in Israel…a fun trip to France….and our first family mission trip to Haiti. Such wonderful memories on this wall of pictures. Mixed with “back stories” that only I know about. Like when I look at the family picture when the kids were 2, 3, and 4, I smile because I love this season. But I also know that this was also a season mixed with dark days in my life….struggling with body image and emotions that were out of whack, tears that came at unexpected times for reasons I couldn’t put my finger on. Discontentment ruled the roost. There is a picture of our house we built in 2009. I didn’t really want to put the picture up on our family wall, but I see value, not in the beauty of the house, but in what God taught us through the whole process of building it, selling it and moving back to our old house. The God story is beyond being able to put in words, but it is all in my heart. And when I look at the picture of that pretty house that I don’t live in, I am thankful for what God did and how He used it in our lives.
Life has definitely been a journey. I have seen joy and I have seen regrets. And God has been my God through all of it. Always there. Faithful and loving and kind and patient. Redeeming what others would have thrown out as useless. Such hope is found in living life walking with Jesus. Looking back on my life brings deep joy for His faithful love to me. Looking ahead brings hopeful anticipation of how and where He will lead me.
I have an empty frame hanging on the wall, ready to capture that next moment that reminds me of His faithfulness and to keep trusting Him, keep walking with Him. He’s a Redeemer.
I imagine Naomi’s picture to put in that empty frame would have been of her smiling as she was holding Obed—the father of Jesse, the father of David. It may have been positioned in between her wedding portrait with Elimelech and a faded picture of the family on their way to Moab many years earlier, but each would have spoken of the hand of God on her life. “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today… may he also be a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age…” (Ruth 4:14-15).
Take some time to reflect with the Lord on your life. The good and the bad. The great decisions and the horrible ones. Give praise to Him for His constant love. And take a listen to this song (you may have to click on the “Watch on Youtube” link that comes up after your first click.)