hungry

“Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.” –Ruth 1:6

My husband noticed my disconnect with my immediate surroundings. While my kids busied themselves with the lunch buffet at CiCi’s Pizza, I was busy with my thoughts, feeling the depths of a hunger that couldn’t be satisfied by a slice of pepperoni. My hunger went deeper than theirs.

“Hello . . . Elaine . . . where are you? Aren’t you going to eat?” So asked my husband once we were seated at our table. I didn’t directly answer his questions. Instead I simply offered up this declaration: “When we finish here, Billy, we need to go the Lifeway Store. I need to get something.” He didn’t offer any objections (he never does); he simply nodded his understanding and his willingness to take care of my deeper hunger.

Hunger. I’ve been noticing mine for a few weeks. A yearning to be filled with something more than the temporal. A yearning to be filled with God’s Word. On Sunday, I spent the church hour with a few children, trying to define God’s Word. We made scrolls, wrote down some words on parchment to better help us understand the witness of the Bible. God’s Word . . .

  • is flawless (Ps. 12:6),
  • is living and active (Heb. 4:12),
  • is right and true (Ps. 33:4),
  • is life (John 6:63),
  • is not-chained (2 Tim. 2:9),
  • is near (Deut. 30:14),
  • never fails (1 Kings 8:56),
  • heals (Ps. 107:20),
  • runs swiftly (Ps. 147:14-16),
  • never passes away (Luke 21:33).

We had a fun time discovering what God’s Word is, a good learning for young minds. A good learning for older minds as well, especially if it sticks—if it causes minds, young and old, to make a change in behavior.

Twenty-four hours later, with these words in mind (especially words like “near” and “runs swiftly”), I made a trip to the Lifeway Store where I knew my soul would find nourishment. I needed a Bible study, a structured way of engaging my heart with God’s Word. Normally, I know what I’m looking for when I head into this Christian bookstore, but not this time. Instead, I simply perused the shelves, believing that the right study would make itself known to me. It did. This is what I purchased. Ruth: loss, love, and legacy by Kelly Minter. Why this selection?

Honestly, I like the cover, especially the red shoes. Oh, and the suitcase (you know I’m all about the journey). And the way the book feels in my hands? Well, it feels special, soft and crinkly in just the right places (don’t tell me a cover isn’t important). And it is six weeks in length, not video driven, and most importantly, this study requires me to do some digging and some writing. It really doesn’t matter to me the biblical subject matter; what matters to me is my engagement with that subject matter. I won’t absorb a book written about Ruth as much as I will a study that requires my participation.

And so, Ruth and I will be spending some time together over the next few weeks. Yes, it was a random purchase, but after two lessons, I’m convinced that it’s a good fit for my heart in this season. Already, I’m swept away by Naomi and Ruth’s return to Bethlehem (a word meaning “bread”) for bread . . . for food to fill their stomachs that would end up filling their souls.

I am not so unlike my spiritual ancestors. I, too, need bread for my soul, and so I return to the one place that I know will fill me up to overflow. I return to God’s table, to Jesus and his Word—the bread of heaven that sustains my heart for the journey forward. God’s Word is near and runs swiftly to my need. It’s near you as well and is ready to fill the hungering ache within.

Are you studying God’s Word this summer? If not, why not? What do you love most about Bible study? What is God teaching you through his Word? This is not a time to shrink back in our faith, friends. This is a time of sacred investment. I encourage you to find a good study, grab the Good Book, and steal away to a quiet place reserved for just God and you. Allow the life-giving, active, flawless, unchained, healing, and never failing Word of God to feed you, transform you, strengthen you, and enliven you for the walk of faith.

There’s no time like the present time to have a meal with the King! He’s made a place at the table for you this day. As always…

Peace for the journey,
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32 Responses to hungry

  1. Elaine, I love the cover of the book also.
    Would you consider doing an online bible study of this book? Do you think it would be a good book to do? Because you have read it and already embraced it, you could lead us in a wonder study. What do you think?
    Just a suggestion…..

    • If we could get enough interest here, I might be willing to do a post a week about the study with a couple of leading questions. I think Beth Moore did this 2 years ago at her blog for a summer study, so I’m not sure how many might be interested. If anyone else is interested, please let me know. By the way, did you get your package, Jane?

  2. Elaine, I did this study two summers ago, and it was really good! This summer I am going to try to get a group of gals together to do Kelly Minter’s new one on Nehemiah. We are going to follow along with Beth Moore’s blog as she informally leads us through it, meeting every two weeks instead of each week.

    I am glad you found this study… it really spoke to me when I did it. And you aren’t the only one who is needing some sort of structure to get into and keep myself in the Word. I have been struggling with it for a while, even when I was doing a study. Really frustrating when I am hungry for the Word, and I know I need it, yet I find it so hard to slow down and force my selfishness aside to focus on God not my wants!

    Hope it continues to bless and feed you this summer!

    • I thought about the Nehemiah study, Heather, but I didn’t want to do a video driven one this summer. Maybe in the fall, when I’m able to do it with a group of women at church (the videos are a little costly for me). I just knew I needed to make the choice and get busy. So glad I did! Blessings, sister.

  3. Elaine, the book looks so good and I too love the cover! Your words pricked my heart.I need to pull out a study and get at it this summer. God is keeping us here in Texas for some reason until August 22 and it would be nice to do a little discovery with the Lord.

    • I guess I haven’t kept up with your comings and goings Terri. Are you moving again? Good thing that our Father moves with us wherever we travel. I think this study would speak to you as well.

  4. I so relate to this post this morning. Some mornings during devotional, it seems that I’m a child in a candy store trying to pick one piece of candy from dozens of colorful cases. Some days there seems to be so much of the Word coming at me, feeding me, exciting me, moving me, speaking to me that it is overwhelming. I simply cannot pick one piece of it to eat. I want it all. I want to sit there all day chasing all of it, reading it, meditating on it… And then sometimes I just have to walk away to think on it. Some days I want to walk directly to the computer to write something about what I’ve seen, but the bigness of it overwhelms me, and I’m unable to muster the words that recreate what I’m experiencing in my heart and my spirit! This morning was such a morning! Oh! How I wish I had studied God’s Word so fervently all my life!

    • I hear you, Shirley! I will say that my Bible studying has changed in the last two years. Whereas once there was a great fervency, it’s now become a discipline. The joy is still there for me, but it’s changed. Hard to put into word… actually, everything is hard to put into words these days. My writing has also changed. Sometimes I just need to experience Jesus in all his glory and let that be enough. I want God to reawaken my passion for studying the Word of God!

  5. Love the situation, the descriptives, and the book! I’ll have to see if I can download the book. I’m always looking for more. A little restless these days. Might be some depression symptoms, not being able to focus. Im doing the Esther, Beth Moore study with my mom. Hasn’t been as exciting as her other ones for me. I was actually trying to find a bible study for the summer that will meet in my new church… But people don’t see, interested. So, if you are going to do something here with this, I’m in!

    • Shane, I get this one. When we first moved here, there was very little interest in Bible study. As it is, I have about 6-8 women who will meet on a Monday morning for study, but we’ve kind of taken a break for the summer. Oh, and I feel the same about the Esther study; good but not my favorite of Beth’s. Really, it’s all good for me; I love Bible study, and I NEED the discipline! I know the great struggle of melding with a new congregation. Feel free to contact me anytime if you’d like. Pastors wives must stick together!!!

  6. Elaine, just reading through the list you made with your Sunday School kids about the Bible strengthened my spirit. With each one, I felt “yes” and “yes”. Oh, how I love the Word.

    Right now, on some days I’m just reading portions from the Psalms and on others I’m actually working on your Peace for the Journey study — especially like the prayers. So many times, they’re just what I might say, too. May God bless your study of Ruth!

  7. When I was a child, my favorite table to eat from was my Monie’s and Poppie’s….of course the food was out of this world, but the love and joy that permeated from the family fed my spirit as well…I always rose from my seat feeling so much better than when I first sat down…sweet fellowship and engaging conversations…

    Now, when I sit at the Lord’s table, it’s that childhood memory times infinity…

    My favorite thing about Bible study is reading a portion that one has read many times…and experiencing a new thing that God wants me to know about it…and then cross referencing another passage from it that turns out to be one that has been placed on my heart by a song, message, or a friend….love those moments!

  8. Truthfully, I’ve been a summer slacker. I’m not involved in any bible study right now. Perhaps “Ruth: loss, love, and legacy” would be the very book to jump start me! I’m an hour away from the nearest Christian bookstore, so maybe my best option would be to order it.

    Thanks for sharing this, Elaine. I’ll have to look for it online.

    Hope you’re having a good week. Sending big hugs your way!

  9. Not only am I in if you do an online study… I would ENCOURAGE you to do it!! Did the capitalization of that word make it stronger?? It was meant to. 🙂 Just get online and share what you are learning and seeing as you do the book… I can say with assurance that you always minister to my heart… SO??? 🙂

  10. Glad you followed the prompting of your heart! And thankful husbands who “hear” us…

    Besides yourself, I KNOW God will use the study worked through your personality to bless all of us who “follow” you. Remember the old song, “Break Thou the Bread of Life”? How I love the “sacred page” and beyond it, I seek Him! Interesting how the 2 on the Road to Emmaus recognized Him in the breaking of the bread, isn’t it?

  11. You’ve inspired me, Elaine. Just today I read a response to a 13-yr-old by John Piper about getting deeper into the Word. He suggested the ESV Study Bible. I’ve done several reading of the Bible with different translations and am just finishing The Message now. Some people in my church are using Systematic Theology (Gruden) to study. Perhaps I will as well although your book looks wonderful.
    As always, our hearts and desires interlock.
    Blessings, Sita

    • I’ve been reading the ESV for a couple of weeks. I sent my NIV away to be restored with a new cover. I’m really like the flow of the ESV and the way it reads. I also really enjoy the study notes! I’m ready, however, for my baby to come home. I miss my treasured friend!!!

  12. wifeforthejourney:

    Its good to raise the question of what we hunger for. Though our tastes change and we all appreciate variety, God’s Word satisfies the hungry heart like nothing else.

    So, you went hunting for a new Bible study – which causes me to ask, “What am I looking for right now?” When it comes to being a Christian disciple, we all need someone to hold us accountable for what we hunger for. I’m grateful to God for my wife. More than anyone else, you make me think, and you inspire me to want more than just a full belly. Thanks for being the best honey, for me, for our family and a whole bunch of readers both near and far!

    Love,
    Billy

    • So you figured this was the only way to talk to me tonight? You in the dining room, me in here? OK… I get the message. Love you, sweet man of mine.

  13. Isn’t that all what we desire in the long run if we are His? Yes. I love your heart, Elaine, and I’m so thankful to know someone who presses in to Jesus above all else.

  14. ‘RUTH” is a good study. Anything by Kelly Minter is a win. I am doing her “Nehemiah” study right now and WOW!! It is soo good. Her first study is one of my all time favorites….”No Other Gods”.

    I love cracking open a new Bible study…so much to explore, so much promise.

  15. Don’t you love it when God leads you to a study. I’ve gotten the same inkling as God will say, “Search out this topic. You need to know more about that.”

    Just recently He burdened my heart to buy Kay Arthur’s, “Lord I Need Grace to Make it Today”. I’d just begun to realize I need more grace to understand His grace. Apparently grace is not only mercy but an enabling power. I never knew that.

    So…wouldn’t you know, Kay was on the radio (amidst this desire for great insight into grace) and mentioned this devotion. I ordered it lickety-split and anxiously await its arrival.

    Love, love, love how God tutors me.
    Blessings!

  16. I’ve been thinking of doing a Kelly Minter study for a good while and this one definitely appeals to me for a number of reasons…your post has just given me one more. ; ) My office Bible study girls and I are also working through the Esther study. We would have to agree with what others have said…yet knowing time in God’s word is never, ever wasted…so we’re taking from it all we can. I too love the ESV, but my favorite translation of late is probably the NLT. I love that the more you study God’s Word, the greater the thirst to learn more…beautiful!

  17. I did RUTH a few years ago and LOVE it…It’s an amazing journey. I am thinking about doing Nehemiah this summer with some friends. I too need food for my soul!

  18. Last year we were blessed to be able to go to Israel. Early the first morning we were taken to a place called The Valley of the Wind and the Doves. We walked back into the countryside on a dirt road to a place that was so quiet all we heard was the cooing of the doves. They told us that the road we were standing on was the road Jesus walked when He went to visit Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It is also the road that Ruth and Naomi walked when they left Moab to return home. For some reason that was one of the places that affected me the most. I could almost feel Naomi’s troubled thoughts as she returned to her birthplace – she was going home but what would she find there, who would help, would her lonliness abate? And Ruth, what must she be thinking? Even though she loved and respected her mother-in-law she was going to a strange country and had no idea what to expect. They didn’t know the plans of the Father but they journeyed anyway. What great lessons for us! blessings, marlene

  19. I’m about to step into Week 6 of Ruth and it is making an impact like I could never have before imagined! 🙂 You will certainly enjoy your journey with this Bible Study. Who knew that four little chapters tucked between Judges and 1 Samuel could have so much impact? I’ve heard about the Kinsman Redeemer and I knew that it was a foreshadowing of Christ, the Ultimate Kinsman Redeemer; however, I didn’t realize how much Boaz’s kindness and Ruth’s character would touch my very soul. I’m hoping that what I learn will be put into practice! 🙂

    Much love to you, Elaine! I stop by from time to time but haven’t spoken in a while. Things have been busy and I don’t get on the internet as much as I used to, which is a good thing I believe.

    Prayers and blessings along your journey,
    Rebecca

    • So good to hear from you again! Are you still reading Amish books? I’m about to finish up another set; not my favorites. Can’t even tell you the author, but I’m trying to complete it, just because. I just finished the work for week one and am trying to decide if this would be a good fit for the few Bible study gals I have at church. Normally, I take a break in the summer time, but I’m thinking this might work well with a group. Thanks for stopping by. Are you still blogging?

      ~elaine

  20. Loved this study!!!! It was what inspired me to pen the words about giving out of our poverty. Praying that it fills the hunger… and wishing we could study it together!

    I think it was also the study that taught me sometimes we have to learn to pray the prayer to God to “make me willing to be willing.”

    Life-changing! Encouraging. LOVE!

  21. Oh, yes ma’am! I am still reading Amish books (I love them so!), but I have quit blogging. I just couldn’t keep up and I put unnecessary pressure upon myself to “perform.” As for the study, it really works either way; though I would say that the personal response questions would lead to excellent group discussions that will push those participating to places that they might not go alone.

    I’ve enjoyed Ruth so much, I believe I will have to check out Nehemiah. I love the whole stone wall concept of doing what is before you and not worrying about what’s not.

    Much love to you–you are such an inspiration!

    Rebecca

  22. Thank you for your comment on my post regarding summer Bible study! As you know I am studying the Sermon on the Mount and attempting some memorization as well. Your post reminded me of the promise to those who hunger and thirst: they shall be satisfied. As you seek Him this summer through the pages of His word, may you know and rest in the satisfaction of the sufficiency of Christ. He is enough! He is everything!