So, I don’t know if you remember, but last semester, a big theme in my life and some close friends that I have Bible study with every week was the Barley Harvest. This stems from the story of Ruth. You can read more about these here and here. Good stuff. I just read those again for the first time since I wrote them. It’s so good to journey back into the previous steps you’ve taken and realize just how far God has brought you since then.
“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3.
So, it just keeps coming up in my life. In fact, one of those wonderful ladies from Bible study emailed me the other day with some very cool information. The Barley Harvest always happens the Sunday after Passover, during the feast of First Fruits. What happens the Sunday after Passover? EASTER!! Wow. Easter celebrates that Jesus had risen from the dead, that our redemption had been bought with the blood of the Lamb, and it did not stop with that. He rose in power from the dead, that we too might rise with Him–
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:1-4
So, I guess my focus on the Barley Harvest right now is that–newness of life. Am I walking in it? There’s a song I’ve been singing all week–“Carry Your Name” by Christy Nockels. One part says,
“By Your wounds we are healed,
and You have conquered the grave,
and in Your rising we will rise,
to carry Your name,
above every name”
I just cannot get over those words: “in Your rising we will rise.” And I am overwhelmed by the fact that I can even get up out of the grave. And yet, just like Lazarus, I’ve been called from death into life, that I may proclaim His excellencies! That I may carry His name (see Acts 9). I so long to carry His name. Sometimes I doubt myself though. Don’t we all? Oh how Satan attacks in that area! He doesn’t want us to glorify God, so He tries to convince us that we’re not doing any good, therefore we focus so much on how we don’t think that we are, that we end up not because we’re wallowing in that self-guilt CRAP! That’s all it is! Believe me, I am preaching this to myself too! Which brings us back to Ruth & the Barley Harvest.
My mentor copied a friend & me (this is my Bible study group that I mention all the time!) a copy of a chapter from NT Wright’s book, “Small Faith–Great God.” The chapter is all about walking by faith and not by sight. Ruth is a perfect example of this. She found her security only in God. Her faith looked at the future and trusted the great and loving God to guide it as He had the past. She had faith to walk in the dark. But she learned a lot from Naomi. Naomi knew that this darkness was from God. She knew that even the bitterness she was feeling was from God. He is sovereign over ALL. Even our feelings. That’s a big lesson for me. There are so many times when I feel left out and unsure about so many things. But God is so much greater. The other day I was translating some of 1st John (gotta love Greek class) and as I read the original language I was blown away. “When our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts.” Greater. Our hearts fail us so often. Jeremiah calls them “deceitful above all.” He is greater. I just have to claim that.
“Faith looks at a black past, and says, “God is almighty.” It looks at a present without security, and says, “We belong to God’s people.” It looks at a future without prospects, and says, “God will provide.”‘
“We cannot tell what strange ways God will work. We can be sure that He is utterly worthy of our trust and that He leads us into the dark only to teach us to walk closer to Him. We walk by faith, not by sight. But our faith, weak though it is at times, is faith in a great and sovereign God.”
The Barley Harvest is here. It may be shrouded in darkness and doubt. But it is here nonetheless. Especially for those of us in Christ. We have been brought out of darkness, into light. Out of death, into life. Rejoice in that. That is where I am. Trying to have a faith like Ruth & Naomi. Not that it was big and great, but that it was in a God who is great and awesome, and keeps covenant with us (see Nehemiah for those awesome words…chapter 1).
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say it, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone, the Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer & petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:4-7