Covenant With a Cranky Woman

SUSAN TYNER|CONTRIBUTOR Do you tend to avoid cranky people? Go out of your way to avoid the teen who just got grounded or an exhausted coworker who started her day by stepping on a Lego? But what if I am the cranky one? I can’t escape me. Sure, I have tricks up my sleeve to stuff my frustrations so I can function at work. I can fix a smile during lunches with friends so I do not hint at the dark musings of my heart. However, my guard drops back at home and my crankiness is more obvious as I bang dinner dishes, yell “shut up” to the dogs, or give the silent treatment to my family. I see them avoid me, and I wish I could escape from my cranky self, too. I wonder if Naomi felt the same way. In the Book of Ruth we see Naomi’s story unfold. Her family left Bethlehem and went to Moab in search of bread, and though they found actual bread, they did not find what they really went for: health and life. Ten years later, Naomi’s husband and boys are dead, and she is left alone except for her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. A widow without male protection doesn’t have many options. She hears the famine back home is over and returns, her daughter-in-law Ruth in tow. They arrive back in Bethlehem, and Naomi tells her hometown friends, “I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Don’t call me by my old name, Naomi (“pleasant”) but call me Mara (“bitter”).” Empty. Bitter. Maybe even a little cranky? In chapter 2, Naomi comes across almost numb and depressed when Ruth goes to find work in the fields. Only when Ruth mentions the name Boaz do we see a spark as Naomi responds, “blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead” (Ruth 2:20). By the end of the story, we see Boaz taking both widows into his family and Naomi holding a grandbaby. But even though the writer does not explicitly say it, the real hero is God, not Boaz. We as the audience see what was happening all along. God was sticking close to Naomi because she was part of His family. Another way to describe His loving-kindness is with the term covenant, a solemn promise that God would never leave His children, His sheep. Covenant even with the cranky. In the flock of God, Naomi was a cranky sheep and God kept His covenant with her anyway. Sometimes you and I are cranky sheep, too. Perhaps our losses of dreams, expectations, or loved ones leave us dry and brittle. Or maybe we look up one day, and we are far from the community of God’s people and don’t like how our cynicism compares with their contentment. We wonder if God wants to avoid us because we are really not that fun to be around. Thankfully, God doesn’t keep His covenant promises only to the happy faces, the productive hands, and the hearts that sing with VBS vigor, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”  He sticks with cranky women too—the women out of energy to pray; women bitter from hard work and empty bank accounts; and women haunted by mistakes that can’t be undone. Where do I go if I’m cranky?...

Covenant With a Cranky Woman2022-05-04T22:59:31+00:00

Follow the Lamb

BARBARANNE KELLY|CONTRIBUTOR Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look,     and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it,     and find rest for your souls. —Jeremiah 6:16 As Reformed believers we understand the whole of Scripture through the lens of covenant theology. Reading through the Bible, we see God’s spotlight illuminating the Covenant of Grace, lighting the way through the history of redemption. One way to follow the path of the covenant through the scriptures is to look for the shadows cast by God’s spotlight. These symbols and figures point forward, signifying greater spiritual truths and realities. Examples of such symbols are garden and tree, water and bread, bride and groom, priest and king, wilderness and cities. While the covenantal types and shadows may be familiar to us as Old Testament symbols, neither the symbols nor their significance diminish in importance on this side of the cross. Under the Old Covenant, believers looked forward to the coming of Christ, and in these last days, Christians await his return. But we still need encouragement to look forward. I’d like to encourage you, Dear One, based on God’s covenant promises, to find rest for your soul by looking forward in faith to the Lamb of God. But First, Look Back Let’s begin by looking back at the ancient path. In the book of Genesis, God made a covenant with Abraham, graciously promising to give him offspring as numerous as the stars through his son Isaac. Abraham believed this covenant promise so thoroughly that when God commanded him to sacrifice his son—his only son, whom he loved—Abraham obediently set out first thing in the morning (Gen. 22:1–3). By faith, Abraham considered that even if he sacrificed his beloved son, God was able to raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:19). As they approached the mountain, Isaac, seeing the fire and the wood but no offering, asks, “where is the lamb?” Abraham answered that God would provide the lamb for the offering himself (Gen. 22:7–8). Sure enough, God intervened and provided a substitute. Isaac’s question continues to echo down through the Scriptures. Where, indeed, is the Lamb?...

Follow the Lamb2022-05-04T23:08:05+00:00

Remember to Remember

KAREN HODGE|CONTRIBUTOR On a bitter cold Chicago afternoon, I pulled into the remote parking lot at O’Hare airport. I hurried off for a quick trip to Atlanta. I landed Saturday evening dressed for a Christmas party. Big problem. There had been heavy snow, and I had forgotten where I parked my car. I trudged through the snow dragging my suitcase, yielding no success. A kind shuttle bus driver spotted my pathetic pursuit and asked, “How can I help you”? I unburdened my dilemma with tears in my eyes, and she kindly invited me to climb aboard. She encouraged me to stand by the widow, clicking my remote as she weaved up and down the rows. At last, we could see the faintest of headlights flicker under the snow. I wiped my tears and wished her a Merry Christmas. Forgetful Covenant Breakers Stubborn self-reliance followed by weariness, frustration, and resignation to quit is a recurring picture of my forgetfulness. Like Winnie the Pooh, the bear with very little brain says, “I do remember, but then when I try to remember, I forget!” Every day I fail to remember things more important than where I parked my car, like the bigger story of what God has done. When you forget the Big Story, you forget who God is, who you are, and why you exist. Forgetfulness is not a personality problem; rather, it’s a sin problem. Sin breaks all things, including our capacity to remember and think biblically. God’s people are always in danger of losing their memory, forgetting who they are and whose they are. We are Covenant-breakers, but we serve a Covenant-keeping God. He never forgets His promises or His people; He never suffers from memory lapses. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. When we fail to remember our great God, we can trust that He will never forget us. Covenant Remembrance Engages Head and Heart To remember something is to intentionally consider, be mindful, or call attention to something. To ponder or delight in something requires stopping, noticing the dimensions, and treasuring its value...

Remember to Remember2022-05-04T23:42:03+00:00

Hope in Our Covenant Keeping God

It’s been several weeks of caution and seclusion. Our churches are livestreamed, our fellowship times are in digital halls, and our Bible studies are framed by computer or phone screens. There is a new normal that is still unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and we don’t know how long this altered existence will last. Scripture is full of exhortations about waiting on the Lord (Is. 25:9; Ps. 37:7; Lam. 3:26), having patience (Gal. 5:22; Col. 1:11; Jm. 5:7), and God’s care in the midst of hard times (2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 36:7, 46:1, 62:8). But there is one page of the Bible that I’m finding unconventionally encouraging in these unconventional times. Unfortunately, if you use an electronic version of the Bible, you probably won’t notice it. Go grab a physical copy of the God’s Word and turn to Malachi 4. Now, turn the page. It’s blank, isn’t it? There’s a blank page, followed by a page introducing the New Testament. That blank page represents over 400 years of silence, uncertainty, and waiting. If you’re still holding a copy of the Bible, your left hand is holding around 1,500 years of covenant history. I say “covenant” history because the Bible is full of covenants that God makes with his people. Throughout that history, God kept his covenant to preserve and bless his people, even though his people disobeyed the covenant conditions. The Old Testament is an ongoing story of how God committed to his people, his people disobeying, God reestablishing the covenant, and sending covenant messengers (aka prophets) to remind his people of the terms of the covenant. There are robust themes of God’s faithfulness despite his people’s sin..

Hope in Our Covenant Keeping God2022-05-05T00:50:15+00:00
Go to Top