I could hardly wait to get back to my workstation after my 7:00 meeting this a.m.. Maybe it was because of my long hiatus from blogging, which has prevented this vulnerable process that affords me such great pleasure.
This morning’s early read through my favorite Bible book, Ruth backed up with the scarlet thread of truth delivered in the testimony of a local business man and brother in Christ at NCS (1); or maybe it’s this feeling that a new and long awaited season has now opened! Life in Christ and the privilege of aging is amazing!
If you have not read Ruth of late you might want to. It is loaded with relevance in terms of relationships, even some skillful pointers in workplace negotiation. I think we are too often distracted by the marvelous prophetic nuances that affirm the divinity of Christ; even so much so, that we may miss beneficial life applications for the “here and now.”
Widow Naomi, originally from Bethlehem had fled a famine along with her late husband Elimelech, though she still owned property there. Her two sons, whose names meant “infirmity” and “failing”, perhaps allegorical, bring light to what often happens with our best efforts. As the author unpacks the story of Naomi, I can hear my own soulish thoughts, as when I occasionally encounter life’s bitter circumstance.
Yet in this beautiful story, Ruth exemplifies the best of a companion: one who listens, and follows through with humility; she seems to also reflect the internal dialogue I often hear and have learned to follow, when I am at my best spiritually. She simply goes about each new day, shows up on behalf of Naomi, and then wonders as the spiritual dynamic around her so persuasively demonstrates the providence and favor of Father God, to this foreigner so new to the faith!
Naomi, once back in her hometown, is land poor; that is, broke except for that one asset. She instructs this Moabite, Ruth around the custom of gleaning, the Hebrew strategy in their day for homelessness and hunger. As farmers harvested their crops, which jusy so happened to be the case when they arrived, both hungry and destitute.
There in Bethlehem (The House of Bread), laborers with little agricultural equipment, were instructed not to pick up spilled or overlooked grain, especially in the corners of the fields. Ruth each day, faithfully goes to the fields in hope of enough grain for a meal. Ironically, the very field she goes into happens to be a field owned by a wealthy relative, Boaz (fat chance). Boaz, a business man always with an eye for opportunity, happens to drop by (management by walking around). He immediately spots this beautiful woman and immediately instructs his servant to protect her; even find a way to allow more grain to be left in the field than normal! I suspect it was not only physical beauty but spiritual presence that attracted this man of integrity, as the story will soon bear out. She gains instant favor and finds provision for herself and Naomi; have included a worship link for those having not so terrific a mement in their lives-beauty for ashes (2).
Boaz soon comes to learn of his kinsman-redeemer opportunity; his lineage and custom requires him to honor a fallen brother both economically and maritally. Boaz was a type of Christ!
Meanwhile Naomi, too often like myself, works feverishly from her broken and bitter place of failure and loss, attempting to at least position Ruth in a way that she would be noticed, in hopes that Boaz would consider his responsibility as a kinsman-redeemer.
Naomi, was working from a distorted position of power, though for all practical purposes powerless; at least she had a network and knowledge of the Hebrew customs. Ha!
Also laughable is the way that the Holy Spirit works behind the scenes to accomplish the will of the Lord, restoring Naomi; and even in the end, providing for Ruth with what Naomi had earlier assured her would never happen!
Naomi finds herself rejoicing, Ruth now a bride and the mother of her first child, “and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”(3)
This truth was long ago prophesied by Jacob over his erring son Judah, in a similar situation, after the loss of his wife, then with a daughter-in-law, Tamar pregnant by Judah (you can’t make up this stuff); thus setting up the lineage for a King…out of Judah would come a lion! (4)
Bottom line, how blessed I was this a.m. by a Biblical mother-in-law who acts like me, at my worst; a foreigner’s daughter brought into the glorious story of the Gospel; and yes, a business man willing to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. The latter, witnessed both in my 5:00 devotional and in the testimony of my friend at 7! What a morning! And on top of that I even treated myself and Coach to a fresh Bacon, Egg and Cheese from Pete’s in Clemmons!
3 Ruth 4:17b
4 Gen 49:8-12