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Monday, 29 September 2014

THE TRIAL OF FAITH



Ruth and Orpah
…verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence...and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20

THE STORY IN THE PAINTING

This painting depicts Naomi's widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, as they prepare to depart Moab after the death of their respective husbands. Though both girls initially decide to follow Naomi to the land of Judah, Orpah heeds Naomi's persistent entrities that the two return to the land of their nativity. Orpah's descision to turn back cuts her off from the precious opportunities afforded Ruth, who endures the trial of her faith, refusing to leave Naomi in her time of need. Ruth is "steadfastly minded to go with [Naomi]" (Ruth 1:18) and completes the journey to Beth-lehem, willingly accepting the suffering and privations of Naomi's life of poverty. Because of Ruth's faithfulness and virtue "full reward [is] given [her] of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings [she had] come to trust" (Ruth 2:12) and she was privileged to be among the ancestors of the Savior of the world.

Note: Some may wonder at the youth of the girls depicted in the painting, but the scriptural narrative refers to Ruth as a "damsel" (Ruth 2:6) and a "young woman" (Ruth 4:12). Both words are derived from the Hebrew word "naarah," denoting a girl between infancy and adolescence (Strong 79).

SYMBOLISM OR SIGNIFICANT ELEMENTS IN THE PAINTING

RUTH (pictured right)

The viewer sees the artist's interpretation of the differences between the two girls' decisions: Ruth's steadfastness to the God of Israel allows her to completely divorce herself from her previous, familiar circumstances and way of life and, instead, "come unto a people which [she] knewest not" (Ruth 2:11). She leaves her previous religious beliefs and culture behind and trusts in the Lord whom she has come to trust. That willingness to accept the trial of her faith and step into the uncertainty of her future life with Naomi is represented in this image through the visual darkness which surrounds the figure. Indeed, Ruth seems more distant from the viewer than Orpah, as though she is already separating herself from Orpah's decision to turn homeward.

Ruth's willingness to "lose" her life for the Lord's sake (see Luke 9:24) allows the Lord to endow her with eternal blessings. This principle is represented in the image by the enveloping golden robe she wears, simple compared to Orpah's finery, but more rich in the material itself and not outwardly showy, symbolic of the "robe of righteousness". Her jewelry reminds the viewer of the Lord's words to Malachi, that those that fear Him “shall be [the Lord's] in that day when [He makes] up [His] jewels” (Malachi 3:17). Ruth's future abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord are represented by the large bunch of grains lying before her. Included among the grains are barley, the grain Ruth is willing to glean from Boaz' fields, and millet, a grain also grown anciently (Woods 42).

ORPAH (pictured left)

Orpah, on the other hand, is not firm in her decision to follow after Naomi and is content to go "back to her people, and unto her gods" (Ruth 1:15). Like Lot's wife, Orpah "looked back" (see Genesis 19:26) to her familiar past and shut herself out from the rich blessings made possible for all those who "trust in the Lord will all [their] heart; and lean not unto [their] own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). Therfore, the artist depicts her surrounded with the culture of her past, decked in her dowry (the gold coins encircling her forehead) and ornately embellished clothing, clinging to Ruth's hand instead of distancing herself, like Ruth, from her past using faith to give her courage to face the future. Unlike Ruth's abundant sheath of grains, Orpah is separated from this abundance by an empty vessel which symbolizes the principle taught by the Savior Himself, that "whomsoever will save his life shall lose it" (Luke 9;24) and that "whomsoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whomsoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (Matthew 13:12 JST added). The Trial Of Faith by Elspeth Young


Blessings, Glenys

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

WHAT CAN I DO AFTER THE CLEANING'S DONE?


I have been a homemaker since I was 16 years old- 47 years in total. I love a clean house, and I plan and clean, but after the cleaning is over, my heart asks ‘now what?’  I don’t find that housework in itself brings me full satisfaction in my Christian life. It is my responsibility before God to run my household well and to look after my family, but what about after that’s done for the day? I mean, after 43 years, you do get housekeeping down to a fine art! Over the years I have found ways that I can work from my home and serve Christ and others.

Now I realise that there are many home-based businesses you can do, but I am specifically talking about ministry- acts of charity and kindness one can do from home. With small children at your feet, and dinners baking in ovens and simmering in crockpots. Laundry tumbling happily in the laundry room and no freedom to leave the home. And really there is no need. As keepers of the home, it is to our advantage to be at home-for then people will know where to find you. But therein lies the problem:; how do we satisfy that craving to serve Christ and others more fully whilst still being Keepers of the Home? How can we show charity and acts of kindness to others whilst at home?

There are many ways one can be charitable and kind to others without leaving home. Here are some of the things I have done with children around me, and now grandchildren.

* I have baked for the woman down the street who was on bed rest for a problematic pregnancy. And learnt to praise God that mine weren’t.
*I have designed and typed resumes for neighbours who didn’t have the ability or computer. Put to use my training as a data entry operator.
* Designed my own cards with a personal message for the sick and sent a child over
* I have minded a fractious baby for a friend who was a new mother and just needed some time-out! (Wishing I had had that myself in hindsight. Smile)
* Over a cup of tea, I would help a friend work out a budget as she wasn’t sure how to stretch the funds and her husband had handed the responsibility over to her (probably feeling overwhelmed) I have been there too- but because of that, I had become extremely good at frugality. For which I praise the LORD!
* As it became known that I could sew, it was not uncommon to have a hem of some school trousers or a friend’s dress to take up or even to be asked to finish knitting a baby jacket someone had started and was running out of time to finish.
* I would provide free after school care for my neighbour’s children if she had a dental or medical appointment that would prevent her from getting home earlier.
* I have sat at home packing endless pieces of jewellry or Christmas cards with a friend who was subsidising her disability pension with piece work and was behind.
* I have laundered clothes for a friend with a house full of sick children and so overwhelmed with that and laundry that I told her to bring a few loads to me.
* And ironed those clothes too- now that’s love! (Smile)
* My home has been like a crèche some days as the neighbour’s children played with mine because their Mother was morning-sick (I relate so well to that one!)
* And I have just sat at my kitchen table with a cup of tea and listened to some friend’s problems and offered advice if asked, but mostly listened. A problem shared is a problem halved! Never underestimate the gift of learning when to listen and when to keep silent. Many mistakes made and lessons learnt for me there!
* I have sewn countless little cotton shifts and pants for the orphanage our church sponsored in Madagascar. I never saw them wearing them, but I got letters!
* I have sat countless hours after my housework was done sewing sequins on big banners for the Worship Hall in our church. Thousands of sequins..thousands!
* And I have lost count of the number of women who have come with unfinished projects that we have worked on at my home. Sewing, knitting, crochet… And speaking of crochet and knitting…teaching a couple of friends crochet and knitting and how to read knitting patterns!
* Teaching my friend to touch type was another thing I did at home. That taught me a lot about patience, believe me!
* A young man who was my son’s friend couldn’t read and confided in me and he came and I taught him to read. He has a lot of confidence now! Praise God!
* I helped a friend with a disabled child do physical therapy at my home on the days when she was too exhausted to do it. I sure learnt a lot about a mother’s love!
* A rather humorous time was my neighbour who lived behind me asked me to show her how to peg her laundry out like I did- boy, I didn’t know she was looking!
* A young wife wasn’t sure how to use ammonia on her oven and asked me for a demo. I had the cleanest oven in town by the end of the day.

And then there were the fun times- I was showing the same woman how to bake a certain recipe, and it flopped! But the fellowship was sweet at least!  The LORD will give you wisdom to know who is needy and who is greedy or lazy! It is never good to be used up when there is no need of it. But I found the majority of people asked for help only when it was truly needed- but I feel I must caution you to be aware that some people can abuse your friendship if you don’t set boundaries and use wisdom.

Putting this all to paper makes me realise just how many things we can do from home to show charity and kindness to others. I am sure you can think of more. But it is these things that I believe make up that part of home keeping that are fulfilling for me. 

After my house is clean- then I can joyfully branch out into that part of life some call ‘ministry’, others call helping, or friendship or mentoring. Whatever it is called, it is possible to be kind and charitable from your home. Not only does it help your neighbour, but it helps you feel totally fulfilled in your calling as a wife and mother. 

What better way of serving Christ than to serve others in His Name? I give God the glory for bringing these people into my life, and for allowing me to pass on a little of what I have gleaned of life along the way. May the LORD richly bless you in your homes and bring opportunities for acts of charity and kindness to you. Please note that this was over a period of years... my recollections over the most productive years of my life prior to becoming chronically ill...


© Glenys Robyn Hicks

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.”  Proverbs 31:26
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