Gleaning is fine if you’re Ruth, but if not, gleaning might feel like less than a reward. I’d love to be like Old Testament Ruth, but I don’t want to glean to get there. I’d much rather buy a hand poured coffee at my favorite stand and wander through the local farmers market with my basket, picking from tables laden with the season’s bounty. “Discriminating local market shopper” sounds like more fun than “gatherer of remnants left by the wealthy.” But sometimes we find ourselves gleaning.
My friend needed help prepping for her estate sale on the day of the local farmers market. As I drove to her rural home between apple orchards and vineyards, I passed fields of produce. Harvesters gathered new Walla Walla onions, pouring their bounty into trucks, storing them in barns. I smelled sweet onions in the breeze, stirring my urge to shop local markets for the best of summer. But my friend’s list was long and my cash flow was short, so I passed the freshly churned fields and wondered who would benefit from the abundance. It wasn’t meant to be me.
The day was spent sorting and pricing. After years in their orchard home, the family was moving to a new “field” and work. They had to let go of many possessions before moving on. Letting go is a business I’m all too familiar with. It’s fertile ground for wondering if God is going to bless you again.
In the afternoon I started back to the new home where God has planted us. I scanned the fields to see they were empty and the trucks nowhere to be found. But along the dusty edges of the road I noticed large white balls randomly resting in the gravel. A slower pace confirmed my hopes; ONIONS! The loaded trucks had spilled a trail of unclaimed bulbs. As a newcomer I wondered, “Is it okay to gather fallen produce? Are there unwritten rules here? Is there an onion police?” I pulled over to debate and finally decided. I think God was inviting me to glean. If I’m willing to be blessed His way, He is willing to bless.
I know God will supply my needs according to His riches in Christ, (Philippians 4:19) but I am prone to wander from my confidence and to wonder if He’s going to come through. Put me in a desert and I wonder if I can blossom there. Shorten my cash flow and I wonder if He sees the school bill. Call me to serve during the farmers market, and I wonder how I’m supposed to get onions! In her book The Mended Heart, Suzanne Eller says, “Many times we resist God – perhaps we even kick and fight against Him – when all He is doing is trying to give us the desires of our heart.”
God had every intention of blessing me with sweet Walla Walla onions fresh from the field, but He wanted me to glean for them. I would’ve chosen the fun, refined way of receiving His bounty, but He called me to glean. His way for me is the far more abundant, better way of receiving.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21) If I’m willing to be blessed His way, He is willing to bless.
Is God trying to give you something good through a means you didn’t expect?
Are you resisting receiving His way?
If we’re willing to be blessed His way, He’s willing to bless.
You might be interested in this Do Not Depart study about Ruth here.