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From Devotion to Destiny

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Will You Be LEFT BEHIND at Harvest Time?

Amid the incredible popularity of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind fiction series, there is another "left behind" issue that is often neglected by the American church. In contrast to the spellbinding book series about events after Jesus' return, this other "left behind" matter speaks of events here and now, relevant to every Christian. The issue is not whether we will be left behind at Jesus' coming, but whether we are already being left behind in fulfilling His purposes for our lives.

In Ruth chapter one, Naomi's two daughters-in-law each face a decision that will radically affect the outcome of their lives: Should they go with Naomi back to Israel or remain in their native land of Moab? Little did they know how their answer to this question would shape not only their own future, but even future generations. As the story unfolds, we see the wonderful results of fully following the Lord's purpose for our lives, and the terrible consequences of being left behind.

When Naomi first announced her intentions of moving back to Bethlehem, both daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, said they would go with her. With tears and great emotion, they told Naomi, "Surely we will return with you to your people" ( ).

If we could have witnessed this scene, we surely would have been impressed by the apparent dedication of these young women to their mother-in-law. However, while they both loudly proclaimed their love for Naomi, only one ended up actually going with her. When Naomi reminded them that her sons were dead and she had nothing more to offer them, Orpah changed her mind. Why should she leave her familiar surroundings in Moab and accompany Naomi to an unknown future in a foreign land?

Full Surrender

This same scene could be witnessed in many churches today. We sing "I Surrender All" and loudly proclaim our commitment to follow the Lord wherever He goes. We proudly tell our friends that we have made Jesus not only the Savior but also the Lord of our lives. Yet when we come to the difficult fork in the road that Orpah faced, we often choose to remain in our comfort zones. Like Orpah, we may even weep as we adamantly declare our intention to go wherever Jesus leads us, but when decision time comes we stay in familiar territory.

Orpah may have felt a sense of relief when Naomi and Ruth headed down the dusty road toward Bethlehem. What a crazy idea, she may have thought. I bet they'll move back here within a year. But Naomi and Ruth never moved back; their hearts were set on moving forward.

Orpah probably had no idea what had just happened: She had been left behind! While Naomi and Ruth went on to fulfill their God-given destiny, we never hear of Orpah again.

Gleaning at Harvest Time

Ruth must have wondered what kind of life would await her in Israel. Yet when she arrived, she wasted no time daydreaming about her future; she got involved in the harvest fields. No one had given her a job or an official position, but she simply was gleaning the leftover grain, as was the custom of poor people of that time.

Many Christians today are frustrated that they can't seem to find their ministry or "destiny," but they are looking in the wrong places. They daydream of being an apostle, prophet, evangelist or pastor, but it's hard finding anyone who will confirm such lofty callings. All the while, their destiny often awaits them in the same place Ruth discovered hers: in the harvest fields.

You don't need a staff position in a church or ministry in order to glean lost people in the harvest fields. No one has to recognize your calling or ordain you as an evangelist for you to be properly authorized to share your testimony with those who don't yet know Christ. Gleaning may not seem like a very glorious activity, but as happened to Ruth, it may well be the very key to unlocking your destiny.

Copyright © Jim Buchan, used with permission.

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About The Author


Jim Buchan has a diverse background, having been a pastor, an attorney, and the editor of Ministries Today magazine and The Morning Star Journal. He now has a writing and speaking ministry that takes him across the U.S. and to many foreign countries. His articles have appeared in more than 40 publications worldwide, and he offers seminars on such topics as leadership, healthy church life, and Christian writing. Jim is the author of Walking the Leadership Highway Without Becoming Road Kill!

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