As we begin to delve into the book of Ruth, we find ourselves in a sad scene. Naomi had two sons and two daughter-in-laws in her family. Tragedy happened to the her two sons and she is left with only her daughter-in-laws. She delivers them freedom to return to their homeland as was the law. She had no other sons for them to marry, so she had no reason to have them with her any longer. Even Naomi had plans for a long journey home to her people. Of the two daughters-in-laws, although there was weeping on the separation, Orpah goes back to her homeland, but Ruth….Ruth decides to stay and delivers a heck of an argument.
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me. Ruth 1:16-17”
How on Earth can you argue one that would rather die than to leave you. The trip from where they lived in Moab to journey back to Bethlehem was not an easy one. ( About 30-60 miles, depending on the route taken. As the terrain is rugged and steep, the trip is estimated to take 7-10 days on foot.- Wikianswers) Naomi was not as spry as she used to be and they were nothing but two widows seeking to return home. Those days were different in journeys. There were no paved easy roads and two women were easy prey. The bond of these two women was strong (I mean, can you imagine having to take days walking with your mother-in-law?)
When they finally made it to Bethlehem, Naomi’s friends recognized her and called out to her “Naomi! Naomi!” To which, Naomi replied, “I have changed my name to ‘Mara’ (which means Bitterness) because I left here full of life, but I am mad at God for he has returned me empty.” (I know a few times in my life I could have changed my name to ‘Mara’ so I understand her anger at the Almighty here.)
Ruth, having no time for name changes, immediately starts looking for work to bring money and food to their new little household. She started gathering grain in Boaz’ field (who just happened to be a relative of Naomi’s on her late husband’s side) She worked hard, quietly and as long as she could. She caught Boaz’ eye with her work ethic and he asked her to move to a different field to gather grain alongside the female servants.
She thanked him and Boaz replied that he had heard how she had remained with her mother-in-law and made the journey and promised that the Lord would reward her and protect her. Then he told his workers to drop a little extra just for her.
So she comes home to Naomi with this big killing on the grain front and Naomi asks her where did she work that day. Once she finds out, she formulates a plan and asks Ruth to trust her. She tells her daughter-in-law to go lay at his feet while Boaz slept. Boaz wakes a little shocked to find a woman at his feet and Ruth repeats her rehearsed lines “I am Ruth, your slave. Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.” (She was basically proposing marriage to him) but he chased her away to not ruin her honor by being seen at his feet.
Later on we find that Boaz does go after Ruth and they end up marrying. On down this lineage we will find King David and then Jesus….so match made in heaven….
Then she treks miles with the older woman.
Then she takes her suggestion of being bold with Boaz.
There is no two ways about it…Ruth mirrors commitment, work ethic and trust in what she can’t see.
I want to be Ruth when I grow up.
Actually, I have been Ruth. I have been a widow and that is a scary place to be all of a sudden. Only I had three young children to look after. I read Ruth many times during those early days and hoped and prayed that I might find a Boaz (I just didn’t really want to go gather grain for someone to want me) With no shelter or love from a husband the world doesn’t feel as kind. You could have called me “Mara.”
But I saw in Ruth a faith that I longed for. She did things (hard things) without question and she did it with her whole heart. (even though it was a heart that had been broken by loss) So I began to do the hard things without question and did it with my whole heart even though it waged war on me many times.
Ruth’s main focus in the beginning of the story was to not lose the family she had, nor go back to the land where God was not accepted as the one and true God. She walked beside this bitter woman for miles and was the rock that Naomi leaned on while Naomi was angry with her loss and grief. Once they reached Naomi’s home, she turned to her ability to work to make a home for herself and Naomi. She didn’t curl up in a corner and mourn what once was, but actively sought what could be. She showed what the grain of her heart was.
She sought love, acceptance and family. She found that and so much more. She found Boaz’s love and a place of comfort for two heartbroken women to mend in peace.
When God provided for me my own Boaz, I was seeking love, acceptance and family. God answered my prayer by giving me Brian and so much more.
May you be willing to let your past be in your past. May you be willing to walk the hard roads. May you be willing to put your whole heart into things that you may not want to do, but for what is best. May you be willing to trust. May you be ready when opportunity knocks. May you trust that God grieves your hard moments and has a much better plan for you. May you believe in the grain of your heart. May you be willing to be Ruth.