But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
~Ruth 1:16 (NLT)
“I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied.
~Ruth 3:5 (NLT)
Oh, the “S” word. A word that can make even the godliest woman cringe at its very mention. But quite honestly, a word that can simplify our lives once we learn how to properly implement it into our daily walk. A word that had I developed its principles correctly in my life soon enough, quite likely could have saved me a LOT of pain and heartache.
Submission…we’ve heard it over & over. We’ve read the scriptures – Colossians 3:18; Ephesians 5:21-22, 24 – to name a few. And, if you are like me, when you finish reading the verses on submission you add a “yeah, but” so often it seems they are a continuation of the God-breathed words on the page. They’re not. Submission is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way. God commands submission and we, as always, should obey. Submitting to the will of God is a beautiful thing. Yet, it is an aspect of the Christian journey that many struggle with. Letting go and allowing someone else to take control of our lives can be hard to do. Yet, once we learn to do this our spiritual experience will be significantly enhanced.
At its most basic, if we dissect the word itself we see that sub (under) & mission (the will or authority of another) merge to give us a pretty clear picture of what submission is all about. Merriam-Webster defines submission as “the state of being obedient: the act of accepting the authority or control of someone else”. But what does that look like when put into practice? And who do we submit to? Ruth’s story gives us a beautiful picture of submission done right.
First of all, Ruth submits to her mother-in-law. Even when Naomi tries to send Ruth on her way, Ruth had already decided she was sticking with and submitting to Naomi. (Ruth 1:16-17) When Ruth & Naomi arrived back in Bethlehem, and they discovered she was gleaning in the fields of Noami’s relative Boaz, Ruth again demonstrates her submissive spirit by following Naomi’s advice to stay in Boaz’s fields and, eventually, to offer herself to Boaz following Naomi’s specific instructions. No questions; no resistance; no arguing. As we see in the verses listed above, Ruth simply says, “I will do everything you say.” What a sweet picture of submission.
Secondly, Ruth submitted to Boaz, even before he agreed to marry her. On their first meeting, Boaz gives her instructions on where to gather grain, how to gather, who to follow and even offers her protection & water. Later, when she lays herself at his feet, Boaz tells her when to stay and when to leave. You don’t hear her saying “don’t tell me what to do”, or “you aren’t the boss of me”. She quietly submits and obeys. Anyone else just a little convicted?
But before either of these submissions took place, it’s evident Ruth had submitted herself to God. She proclaimed to Naomi early on that “your God will be my God”, and these were not empty words she spoke. Ruth not only “talked the talk” but she “walked the walk”. Ruth demonstrated those words with the way she lived her life. Even Boaz recognized it when he says in Ruth 2:12, “May the Lord, the God of Israel, UNDER whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” Ruth displayed submission to the sovereignty of God and, by doing so, received God’s grace and blessings in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Early in my Christian walk, I, like most, wrongly assumed that I knew what was best for me. I would present my requests to God followed by a thoughtless, not my will but thy will be done. That was the right thing to say; problem was, my stubborn heart wasn’t willing to submit and I learned valuable lessons as a result. At more than one point in my journey, I have asked God for something that I was certain would be beneficial for me. I prayed diligently and consistently but it seemed like something kept blocking my “blessing”. Instead of recognizing God was “speaking” and submitting to the will of God, I continued to press Him for what I wanted. As a result, God allowed my stubborn heart to receive what I wanted so badly. No sooner was the “blessing” received than I realized I had made a costly mistake. Can anyone else relate?
God often allows us to go down wrong paths so that He can teach us valuable lessons. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and submit to God’s closed doors, but I can’t. Instead, I’ve had to suffer the consequences of putting my will and my way ahead of God’s. A mistake I hope to never make again. True submission doesn’t always come naturally. But obedience is always for our own good and usually produces rewards and blessings, and submission is no different. We just have to willingly step off the thrones of our lives and relinquish control…to God first and then to those who He places in our life that fall under the categories God deems in His Word. (Some examples of these include the authorities – Romans 13:5; hardworking leaders – 1 Corinthians 16:15-16; the emperor – 1 Peter 2:13; God – James 4:7; one another – Ephesians 5:21; and of course, spouses – Ephesians 5:22, 24. Biblical submission is the merging of humility, obedience, and endurance. Submission is what happens when you humble yourself and willingly follow another over a long journey. In God’s upside-down kingdom, it is the one who humbles herself who is exalted.
It is my prayer that you will take some time to reflect upon your own spiritual journey. Do you have an unsubmissive heart or are you willing to submit to your loving Father? How are you at submitting to others that God has placed in your life? Submission is strength to the soul of the woman who finds her worth & purpose in the eyes of her loving Father, The King. It is my prayer that you embrace submission and experience the wonderful benefits it brings. Won’t you submit to Christ today?
Lord God, I lay myself at your feet today and place my heart and life fully in your hands. I surrender my heart & my will to you and ask You to guide me into Your will & mission for my life. Help me not to shy away from submission but approach it with an expectation of the freedom and intimacy it will bring. Let my heart’s desire always be living out Your will and purpose to bring glory to You and You alone. In Jesus’ Holy and mighty name,
Hillary Scott – Thy Will
Cyndi traveled a long & broken road that led to the heart of her Savior and is grateful God can use her tattered past in His story. God has placed in Cyndi a heart for sharing the love of Jesus both locally and globally and she has traveled to the Philippine’s (3 times), India (2 times), Thailand & Myanmar to let people in some of the most remote regions of the world know that God is Crazy about them. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing, performing & teaching aerial silks, hammock & hoop, traveling, writing devotionals, and date nights with her main (feline) man Harley. Most weekends you will find Cyndi enjoying Saturday night service at the Clermont Campus.