Know Your Deeper Story

Reading Time: 5 minutes

A dear friend and I gathered for lunch. She sat across the table from me and grieved, “My life has not turned out as I had planned.  We are behind financially. We sold our house and our acreage in our youth to follow God and here we are now, almost empty-nesters, with no house of our own.”

When Life Doesn’t Turn Out as You had Planned, You Still Have a Very Good Story

Her comment reminded me of a conversation I had with God just days earlier. I shared my concern with him that I don’t know what will happen with my life. In particular I wondered if my writing would ever amount to anything.

I don’t know what will happen. 

Or do I?

God speaks, “Although you don’t know the details, don’t you know your story and can’t you even write it now from beginning to end?”

I smile. Yes, I know my story from beginning to end and I love it. It is enough for me. It is good. A tiny summary of my story can be found in an old post, The Power of a Six Word Memoir. I pen a summary on this day specifically related to writing.

She did not despise His offering.
She put her pen to paper.
She stayed close to God
He did not despise her offering.
He smiled at her.

As I shared the knowing of this underlying story of my life with my friend, tears emerged from her eyes and she said, “Oh, I had a similar conversation just yesterday.”

She pulled her phone from her purse and read a recent text to her husband, “My life has not turned out as I had planned, but one thing I can say is that I have been faithful.” 

She was faithful. That makes for a very good story.

Was Ruth Only Gleaning?

Our conversation reminds me of the story of Ruth. I recently had a vision of her gleaning in the wheat fields of Boaz and I was surprised to hear a chorus singing an old hymn while she did. 

Now, I must stop right here and explain. Visions are a relatively new part of my life (see my post Listening With Your Mind’s Eye). Before I experienced them, if someone said they saw a vision, I imagined their event as other-worldly, spectacular and crisp in image. Perhaps for many people they are and perhaps I will have one like that someday, but for me, visions come softly, quietly. When I look and see with my mind’s eye, I often furrow my brow, close my eyes and squint to try to see more clearly. I must always ask God to explain it.

So when I say I had a vision of Ruth gleaning in the wheat fields of Boaz, I want you to know the experience went something like this: 

At night, as I lay my head on my pillow, I asked God for a picture. Immediately, albeit dimly, I saw a woman gathering stalks off the ground. I sensed it was Ruth so I asked the Lord, “Is that Ruth?” Immediately and strongly I heard the lyrics from that old, well-known hymn play in my mind, “Bringing in the sheaves, Bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves.” I went to sleep.

What are sheaves exactly? I didn’t know and looked it up the following morning. A sheaf is simply a bundle of grain stalks tied together. When farmers gather wheat from the field, they tie them together in sheaves and then group the sheaves together in the form of teepees throughout the field. 

The hearty song of “Bringing in the Sheaves” next to the dim image of a woman quietly picking up the leftover stalks on the ground among the sheaves seems a mystery, a paradox. The first portrays the owner and legitimate heir of the harvest rejoicing in the abundance, but the latter humbly asks permission to be present and hopes to get enough.

Ruth’s life did not turn out as she had planned. She was a widow, living with her widowed mother-in-law in a foreign land, humbly bending her back to pick up the leftovers in the fields of a man named Boaz, but was she only gleaning?

Ruth decided to follow God and she walked out that decision in that wheat field with steady determination. I have no doubt God saw that. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV)). 

Perhaps in this temporal world, with temporal eyes, it seemed she was only gleaning among the sheaves, but I wonder if God Himself rejoiced in her loyalty and sang in the eternal kingdom, with eternal, hearty voice, “Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves – She will come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves!” I imagine Him laughing with pride and pleasure at the sight of her. 

He knew something Ruth couldn’t have known. He knew her steady determination would open the door for her to become the wife of Boaz, the great-grandmother of King David and the great great great … grandmother of Jesus Christ himself. Oh the sheaves she would bring in – surely, a harvest more than she could ever imagine! The hearty song matched her activity perfectly.  Mystery solved, paradox understood.

The Heavens Declare The Deeper Stories

As we draw near to advent, I am reminded of the birth of Christ. With physical eyes, we only see a baby born to a young mother in a stable. Her life did not turn out as she had planned. The birth of her baby did not turn out as she had planned. But citizens of the heavenly realm declared the deeper story in Luke 2:10-14 (KJV).

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And the multitude of them accompanied the story with song.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Listen for Your Deeper Story, Your Eternal Story

We walk our lives steadily day after day with activities birthed from our decisions. Our lives don’t turn out as we had planned. As the days turn to weeks, months and years, it’s easy to define our stories by physical sight alone, but there’s more happening behind these visual scenes.

Look and listen. Set your eyes above and incline your ear to the heavens. Can you hear God tell your deeper story, the eternal story whose scope is beyond today’s sight? 

Lord, please help us see and hear the deeper story of our lives.

Bringing in the Sheaves Origin and Lyrics

“Bringing in the Sheaves” was written in 1874 by an American evangelist and author, Knowles Shaw. The hymn was inspired by Psalm 126:6 (KJV) “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, 
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; 
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, 
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. 

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, 
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves; 
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, 
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. 

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze; 
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended, 
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. 

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master, 
Tho’ the loss sustained our spirit often grieves; 
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome, 
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Photo by Mohammad Yearuzzaman on Unsplash


  • Laura Vargas

    Beautiful!!! This blessed me so much, God’s perfect timing.
    May the Lord continue blessing your writing. ❤

  • MT Penny

    Very insightful. Your writing is beautiful and probably a burden if not shared, the impact of which may never be fully known this side of Heaven. The pursuit of pleasing God in the every day moments, must make Him smile. That connection is the most precious of relationships. Keep putting down the words given.

  • Laurie

    Amy, this is beautiful. Thank you for sitting, waiting, praying, listening and writing. Your writing touches deep places in my weary soul with hope, love, wonder and joy. May God bless you this Christmas season.

    • Amy Burgin

      Thank you for encouraging me Laurie, for allowing me to glean in your field, for hearing my heart in my seasons of gleaning, for sharing your heart with me in the seasons that look like gleaning for you too – I love having you as my sister in Christ. In Christ, I trust our harvest is more than we could ask or imagine!

It blesses me to hear from you! Please leave a reply here.

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