(This post was specifically written for the women who attended the Heart Retreat at Windermere, but even if you didn’t, you are not excluded! Feel free to read and apply this to your own experiences.)
I love getting away. And I love coming home. But I do not love unpacking or the feeling of being thrown back into the mess of everyday life where any joy or refreshment I received in my time away gets instantly lost under the pile. I know I don’t even have to explain the pile to you. The pile is one of our common bonds as women, right?
I’ve been talking to the Lord about this Heart Retreat we just came home from, not wanting any one of us to lose any good thing under our piles. And you know what? God cares about this, too. After all the inspiring women we were around this weekend, I feel His urging to take a look at three other inspiring women from Scripture and gain some wisdom from them. I thought you might like to come with me and look at one of them now:
As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, "Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don't embarrass her. Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her." So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. (Ruth 2:15-17)
Ruth gleaned in the barley field because she and her mother-in-law were hungry. She had favor with Boaz, the owner of the field, so that she could follow behind the harvesters and gather stalks of barley that had been dropped. Not only that, Boaz went so far as to ask his men to purposely leave behind some extra stalks for Ruth to gather.
I don’t know about you, but I am hungry for spiritual food, and I believe as a Christian woman, I have favor with my Father. He has stalks of barley for me, but He doesn’t drop them straight into my mouth. It takes some effort on my part. Gleaning is work, but it is worth the bending over.
The Heart Retreat was so packed full of fun, fellowship, tears, laughter, food, activities, music, gifts, testimonies, and teachings! You might have felt energized, overwhelmed, or a little of both. You are not the only one. What can we do to sort through the range of emotions we experienced? I believe taking the time to glean the stalks that our Heavenly Father left for us is one way. The fun part is that each of us has something different to glean, because our God is a personal God who treats us as unique individuals.
So, how do we glean? I don’t think it needs to be complicated. Here are some simple steps we can take to join our sister Ruth in the field:
1. Pray. Ask God to show you what specific spiritual food He has for you to glean from your time at the retreat.
2. Listen. Be quiet for a little while and wait.
3. When He shows you something, pick it up. Now, don’t start bending over grabbing at imaginary items, or you’re going to get some raised eyebrows. It’s probably better to just make a list. Write down your gleanings.
4. Now look at your strong arms full of barley. You may have a new friendship lying there, or you might have a Scripture that the Lord used to speak just to you. You may have a new heart(!) or maybe a hope after a time of hopelessness. Maybe it’s a deeper understanding of God’s love for you, or the healing of a hurt. Perhaps you have fresh vision into a certain situation or a confirming word concerning a God call on your life. You might have new strength lying there to overcome temptation. Whatever your gleanings may be, let’s thank the Lord for our harvest! Ruth and Naomi were so grateful for their barley, and we should be, too. Take a few minutes to thank Him for each item on your list.
5. Share! Ruth shared her gleanings with Naomi. I believe sharing spiritual food with others feeds not only the recipient, but nourishes us as well. There are many ways to share. After you work through this exercise, feel free to come back and share right here in the comments section or on the Inspire Facebook page. Or share with your spouse, friend, co-worker—whoever the Lord puts on your heart. If your gleanings are just too personal, God still did something good for you, and just telling that to someone is enough. We are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony! (Revelation 12:11)
And now, a short word about chaff: Chaff is the debris of harvest. It’s the part we don’t want to eat. Did you just catch some chaff in your stalks like I did? When a group of women get together, you know there is going to be some chaff floating around. That is the work of our enemy, trying to destroy God’s work in us. I’m talking about the chaff of comparisons, inadequacy, self-depreciation, jealousy, pride, unforgiveness, and this list could go on and on. I know I picked up some chaff that God wants to help me throw in the fire. If you picked up some too, pray with me for His help to blow it off and let it burn.
Thanks for gleaning with me! If you like, save your lists and bring them along next week as we take a look at another inspiring woman of Scripture!