The to do list keeps getting longer. The challenge is to be more diligent, to get important things done in a timely fashion. Challenges to diligence include procrastination, perfectionism and the feeling the work will not be noticed even if it is done.
The Biblical book of Ruth challenges me to work diligently with what I have; teaches me to do it with love, and says there may be unexpected blessings along the way.At the start of the story, Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem in Judah, to live in Moab with their two sons Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and her two sons. Moab was a pagan land, and Israelites had been forbidden to marry anyone from there. Yet the two boys married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.
Ruth became close to her husband’s family, including her mother-in-law, Naomi. Tragedy again struck the family when both her husband and brother-in-law died.
Naomi heard that there was food in her hometown of Bethlehem, and decided to go back. Her daughters-in-law walked with her, but she encouraged them both to go back to their families, as she had nothing to offer them. “My life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me”, she told them (Ruth 1:13b). Orpah took her advice and went back home, back to her family, her people and her god. “But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people and your God will be my god. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” Ruth 1:16, 17. Ruth had learned to not only love Naomi, but Naomi’s God, to the extent that she was willing to leave her family to venture into the unknown with her mother-in-law. Ruth could not expect anything but hardship in her adopted country.
The two arrived back in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. Ruth volunteered to go into a fields and gather fallen grain. The two women had no means of support and this would give them food to eat. Ruth showed her diligence in volunteering to do hard manual labor, to support both herself and her mother-in-law. She arrived early in the morning, asking permission from the harvesters to glean in the field. The permission was granted, and she worked hard, only taking a short rest all morning. Her hard work again showed diligence. The fact that she was willing to rest during her work day shows that she knew how to care for herself as well.
When Boaz spoke to her, he addressed her as “my daughter” (Ruth 1:8). He knew she had come to the country with one of his family. He told her to always glean in his fields and to help herself to a drink of water if she was thirsty. She was surprised, saying “Why are you so kind to notice me, although I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10). Boaz mentioned her kindness to her mother-in-law and prayed that the Lord would reward her. Boaz continued his kindness, giving her food at mealtime (Ruth 2:14). She had enough food that she gave some to her mother-in-law when she went home (Ruth 2:18).
Ruth continued to gather grain in Boaz’ fields during the barley and wheat harvests, providing for both herself and her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:23). As a widow and a foreigner, she had very little, but she used what she had. She was diligent. She worked hard because of her love for her mother-in-law. And she experienced the unexpected blessing of marriage and having a son.
What do I have that I can be diligent with? I have skills, I have time. I can show love for my husband and others in my life by my diligence.
Diligence has been a challenge, especially in the housework area. I work outside the home and have hobbies I enjoy. Facebook and computer games are easy ways to spend time. Yet, I would like to increase in diligence. I have been challenging myself to improve in this area for several months.
FLYLady.net is a website that has helped me, teaching me to work take baby steps, work on only one item at a time, to focus on one room in my home per week. FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself. If anyone is interested in learning more, I encourage them to check out the website. Now to treat myself to a cup of tea . . .
(Please note: Unless otherwise notes, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.)
(For those also interested in teacups: the one shown in the picture is ‘Spring Melody’ by Queen Anne Fine Bone China. It is one of my favorites, and belonged to my Mom.)