In my college days I was prone to go over on my cell phone plan minutes. Month after month. I like to blame it on the fact that I went to school far away from family. But the reality is, I was complacent. Going over on minutes was easier than calling to upgrade or change plans. Sounds crazy. Nonetheless, that is what I chose.
Toward the end of my senior year of college I went to the Spirit store for a phone upgrade. As we looked at plan options the Sales Manager, named Moose, said as politely as he could, “You may want to consider increasing your plan. Simply stated ma’am, your pattern precedes you. You consistently go over your allotted minutes, and it isn’t by a little.”
I was taken back that this stranger recognized and verbalized my inability to manage my time and resources effectively and efficiently. I was embarrassed. My past behavior cast a negative expectation for what my future behavior would produce.
“Your pattern precedes you” has become a joke in my home, serving as a comical representation of my tendency to live in what is comfortable. And like a gentle sway, lulling me to sleep, there have been many areas in which I have become too complacent to make a needed change. The cell phone plan scenario represents a deeper life lesson. What do the patterns of my life say about me? What do the patterns of my life demonstrate about my heart, desires, my thinking?
The story of Ruth from scripture is a prime example of a woman whose patterns preceded her. In scripture we read of Boaz speaking to Ruth saying, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husbands’ death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and your native land, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. May the Lord reward you for what you have done; and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” (Ruth 2:11-12)
Ruth’s consistent actions were her advocate. Her faithfulness, a mouthpiece that spoke volumes to those around her of the heart and the character she carried. Her behavior patterns represented a faith that surpassed comfort and complacency. Her desire to be faithful allowed her to choose what was right over her own desire to be known. Her faithfulness and consistency ushered in her reward.
The words Boaz reported about Ruth are a call to action for me and perhaps they are for you as well. His words to Ruth beckon me to consider the patterns of my life. His words challenge me to reflect on my behaviors and my own faithfulness. His words shine light on the reward that comes from living a life of faithfulness – consistently doing what is right instead of what is easy or known or comfortable.
The last part of verse 12 reads, “under whose wings you have come for refuge.” This statement clues us into the heart behind Ruth’s heart. Ruth found comfort, refuge, identity, intimacy from resting under the loving and consistent wings of her Lord God of Israel. The behavior patterns of her Lord rubbed off on her as she sought to be in relationship with him. It was the comfort she found in God that allowed her to walk through what was uncomfortable with grace, gentleness and kindness.
Ruth’s life is a testimony of what is possible for us when we are willing to find refuge in God. As we consider these verses let us also consider these questions:
Am I willing, like Ruth, to do what is right over what is comfortable?
Am I willing to reflect on my behavior patterns and ask myself what they demonstrate about my faith and faithfulness?
What do my current behavior patterns speak about my hearts condition?
From whom or from where am I seeking comfort? Is it from my structure and routine? Is it from my family? Is it from my consistent and loving Lord God?
I urge you today, to take time to reflect on the behavior patterns of your life and assess what they, as your mouthpiece proclaim about your life, your heart and your faithfulness.