Clinging Closer In The Move (Guest Post: Chesley Toulson)
Nothing leaves us questioning God’s provision and plan for our lives more than finding ourselves in a new land. You know what I mean. . . Settling into a new job, joining a new friend group, and finding a new home church. Even little things, such as choosing a new grocery store, become big things.
Change is hard—period. But moving from everything and everyone you know is just plain scary.
And I understand more than you know. In March of 2019, I found myself facing one of the toughest decisions my then 26 year-old-self had faced up until that moment.
In 2018, work and a relationship (Okay—primarily the latter) landed me in Jacksonville, FL. And almost 4 months following the move, a series of events in my own life and my family’s life woke me up to the fact that He had so much more planned for my life if only I would fully submit to His plan.
Long story short, I ended the relationship. And in the next eight months that followed, I really felt like I began to find my niche in Jacksonville.
I plugged into a local church (shout out Eleven 22), joined a disciple group, began investing in my community in Jacksonville, fully embraced the sabbath, and became absolutely ravenous for His word.
Even my routine was perfected. I was comfortable. And hey I had the beach at my fingertips! (Which let me tell you, I fully took advantage of)
Which is why I was so confused when I felt like I heard His voice so faintly calling me back to my hometown to work a job I not only had no interest in but felt like I was not equipped to take on.
But God continued to speak louder and louder. Convicting me that His plan for me no longer consisted of Jacksonville.
And He was begging me to open my hands to let it go so that in doing so I could receive something even better.
At first, that was a very hard pill to swallow. “God, why would you bring so much fulfillment and contentment by trusting you in this new land, only to strip me of it all and start over somewhere else?”
But when God calls us somewhere else, we have two options:
1) Simply exist in this new land as we yearn for what was
2) Cling to Him in obedience, knowing that His provision will prevail
And I think we see His provision in a new, unfamiliar land and the unraveling of His ultimate plan playout in no better story than Ruth’s.
If you are familiar with the story of Ruth, you know that everything was peachy keen for the first 10 years into her marriage in Moab where she was from. I’m sure she and her hubby had big plans.
Until they didn’t.
Following the sudden death of her husband, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, suggested Ruth go back to her family’s house, where she grew up in Moab. Naomi had plans to sojourn to Jerusalem, where the Lord was providing for His people.
And if I was Ruth, honestly, I would have taken Naomi up on that offer faster than she could get it out of her mouth.
We love the security of routine. We long to get back to some sense of normalcy.
But, what if in the change and through the move, He’s asking us to cling to Him in a deeper dependency than we’ve ever known?
Ruth famously stated, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
And by clinging, Ruth began to set forth into motion a series of blessings made available through her “yes.”
Ruth was just looking for enough scraps to get them through the day. Needing enough sustenance to survive each day in the uncertain land.
Have you been there, friend? Just looking for enough to get by? To maybe get you to the next day?
She would go to the fields to glean leftover grain, but Ruth 2:3 said, “As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz.” Now we know from the verses prior and the verses that follow, Boaz was a relative on her late husband’s side of the family. Boaz was a man of standing who could provide for Ruth and Naomi.
The text said “as it turned out”, but nothing happens by chance when we are walking in the direction of God’s will for our lives.
It happens as He wills it.
You are not in this strange, new land right now by chance. You were positioned here for a purpose. And the isolation may feel palpable, and the scraps sustaining you feel scarce, but keep gleaning. He has so much more planned for you in this land than just leftovers.
Boaz invited Ruth into his field for grain just as His servant girls and to drink from the water jars. (Ruth 2:8-9) With this invitation, Ruth fell to the ground exclaiming, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10)
Ruth felt alone in this new land, and I bet you do too.
But He sees you. And He hears you. And His plan is still unraveling for your life.
I won’t go into every detail of Ruth’s story, but if we keep reading, we find that Boaz became Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer. He bought Elimelech’s land (Ruth’s late father-in-law), took Ruth on as His wife, and continued their family name. He became a provider for Ruth. They bore a son named Obed, and genealogy tells us that Obed was the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David, and the Messiah from the
line of David.
In this strange land, Ruth became an intricate puzzle piece that one day led to the Messiah. His plan never stopped unraveling, and Ruth’s obedience allowed her to be a part of the greatest story ever told.
He is not leaving you in this land gleaning for leftovers.
I found that in saying “Yes” to leaving all that I found comfort in and moving home, I was able to fully step into all that He had planned for my life. In this new land, I learned what it meant to come to Him for my daily bread. In this new land, He brought me a Godly man. He surrounded me with a new community of believers, and I absolutely fell in love with my job and the kids who impact me every single day.
And I’m not saying that in this new land, He intends to bring your Boaz. Please don’t get so caught up in this little detail that you miss the overarching message.
God’s provision found Ruth in Jerusalem, and all she did was cling in obedience. He will provide for you even here and even now. Just cling a little closer, friend.
To meet the writers for the It's Seasonal series, check out this post! And be sure to come back next week to hear from my good friend, Jacki Whiting.
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Chelsey Toulson is a writer and speech-language pathologist in Louisville, Georgia. She’s a girlfriend, daughter, sister, and friend who loves spending time with family. An introvert by nature, she loses track of time pouring over God’s word or any good book or study for that matter. She’s always had an affinity for words of all kinds. After experiencing God’s grace poured out in her own life, that affinity turned to an adoration specifically for scripture. She is passionate and zealous about sharing her love of His unchanging truth with women in every stage of their walk. Chelsey is most at home writing on the back porch, listening to the cicadas and frogs sing. In her free time, Chelsey enjoys lifting weights, going to the beach, and chocolate glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. She shares devotions at Rooted by Chelsey Toulson. You can subscribe to her daily emails here.