Real talk: every day pretty much feels the exact same.
It’s ordinary and, truth be told, probably looks boring to the general population. After two weeks exploring Israel, my regular life doesn’t feel much like a grand adventure.
I work hard and give my all, but it doesn’t seem worth writing home about. I self-published a book that I fully believe in, but it didn’t climb to the tip top of any charts. I go to church on Sunday mornings, bible study on Monday evenings, and Starbucks throughout the week because I don’t have any coworkers, the days are quiet, and I get (very) lonely.
I guess what I’m saying is this: most of the time real life is plain vanilla.
Ice cream or yogurt, you decide. Sometimes there are toppings or fruit or something yummy added in, but at the core it’s regular — no matter who you are or what you do.
The truth of it all is that although I love what I do and it has value, my work behind-the-scenes isn’t flashy or incredible. It won’t win an award or garner an invitation to something that sounds impressive. I won’t stand on a red carpet or give an acceptance speech.
It’s important, I know this.
It’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing in this season. I’m confident of that even when I don’t understand it.
But it won’t stop you in your tracks.
My work might catch your eye, but even then you won’t know that I had a hand in it because, well, behind-the-scenes.
I’m in a season of gleaning. (“Season” is used loosely here. Because, um, tomorrow marks one year since I admitted that, although good, life totally doesn’t look like what I imagined. And that life and job I didn’t dream of but began to live out? It’s still my daily ordinary.)
Before I lose you, let me explain gleaning real quick. Because I’m pretty sure you’re a gleaner, too.
Gleaning is important work but it’s far from glamorous. In the Old Testament, especially in the story of Ruth, when it was time for harvesting the reapers would gather the majority of the crop and then the gleaners would come behind and pick up whatever was dropped or left over. Each person had their role in the story and ultimately, gleaning showed God’s provision.
Our world today is quite different from that of Bethlehem three thousand years ago. And speaking as someone who walked the streets of Bethlehem just two weeks ago, reaping and gleaning look drastically different now.
Gleaning, in today’s culture, looks like faithfulness in the ordinary. Gleaning is accepting the idea of being small and choosing to play our own note in the symphony of life songs. Gleaning may be behind-the-scenes. It might be quiet.
Gleaning doesn’t pave the way, but it plays an important role in the harvest. It doesn’t mean that you’re poor or less than or that all you get are scraps and leftovers. Gleaning means that you trust God’s provision and are perfectly content to play second fiddle — because you trust He is writing your story for His glory and your good.
Our current culture would tell us that we have to go big or go home, that we have to be the chief and not the Indian, that we have to be the starter and not the backup. Whether we mean to or not, we sometimes send the message that we value flash over substance, that we prefer the spotlight over behind-the-scenes, that we crave fame over faithfulness. Just look at our girl Ruth, though. She wasn’t on the front lines. She was a gleaner, not a reaper. – Sophie Hudson
Ruth gleaned in a field of barley.
My field looks a little different.
Maybe your field is parenting your children, serving at church, going to school, or taking care of your aging parents. Maybe in the early morning hours or too late at night, your field looks like a blank page and the calling to write and share your story.
Three thousand years separates us from Ruth’s time, but if you find that you rarely blaze a trail and instead often faithfully walk behind, sharing what you have to offer even when it looks extremely ordinary, you’re gleaning.
Some will pave the way. Some will write words that you’ve thought yourself and it will go viral. Some will always seem just two steps ahead. But there is a place for the gleaners.
My field feels regular. Ordinary. Small. But it is the one He has given to me, the one He has called me to, and so I will glean.
Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.
-Kittie Suffield, “Little Is Much When God Is in It”
Glean, girl. Walk faithfully and work in the field you’re called to.
Ps: Someone needs to hear this final word, so listen to one more thing real quick: Ruth was a foreigner in a new land. Her husband and provider died. She lived with her mother-in-law. She didn’t have a small group or a best friend or Bethlehem’s equivalent of a book deal. Life totally did not look like what she dreamed up, I guarantee it. But she did what she needed to do, she worked in the field, and she gleaned. She was faithful.
And as she gleaned, she gained respect, admiration, and caught the eye of her future husband. Now — it’s not about the husband, not really. It’s about Ruth picking up her skirt, bending to collect grain in the field she was called to, and choosing to be faithful every single regular day. And it’s about God providing enough for each ordinary day and then giving immeasurably more — just because He can. So maybe life doesn’t look like what you expected or dreamed — but nothing is taking God by surprise. He’s writing a good story. Keep gleaning.
This post was inspired by a chapter in Giddy Up, Eunice – which released today! In typical Sophie Hudson fashion, Giddy Up, Eunice is laugh out loud hilarious while accomplishing the perfect balance between encouraging and challenging.
I loved Sophie’s other books (A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet & Home Is Where My People Are), but this time around she weaves together personal stories with Biblical stories about duos of women. (Including Ruth and Naomi!) This is a timely read (and a good reminder in our online culture of likes and hearts) that friendships are to be cultivated and treasured. We may have differences and we each have a role to play, but life is so much better together.
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