As I finally have some time to sit down and write, here is the promised post. I hope you enjoy it; I am super excited for this one! As you know, I’ve been working on a “Through the Bible in a Year” plan, which takes me through the entire Bible in 365 days by breaking down into itty-bitty chunks. With dedication and much prayer, I have been able to find time each day since the New Year to read, and I just finished the Book of Ruth. (Which isn’t saying much — there are only four chapters in the Book of Ruth, so it only took me one day’s worth of reading to get through this one!) And, so far, Ruth’s story is my favorite Old Testament story of all. I just adore a good love story, and the Book of Ruth shows us God’s grace towards all those who do nothing other than love and serve Him. Ruth was such a model lady for everyone seeking a pure, honest, and loving life in the Lord.
Here’s a quick (okay, well maybe not quick) summary of the Book of Ruth:
There was a woman named Naomi, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem, Judah, who lived with her husband, Elimelek, and her two sons Mahlon and Kilion. The family went to Moab to live there to escape the famine in the land where they had come from. Not long after, Elimelek died, and she was left with only her two sons, who married Moabite women, and then died themselves about ten years later. (The Bible doesn’t mention how they, Naomi’s husband or sons, died. But all I can say is that poor Naomi had some pretty bad luck!) So Naomi was left living with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.
Then Naomi got word that the Lord had come to the aid of His people and had ended the famine, she decided it was time to return home to Judah. So she packed up what little she had and set out on the journey home, with her daughters-in-law following closely behind her. But Naomi turned to them and said, basically, “Thank you for your kindness, and may the Lord show you the same grace you have shown me. Go back to your own home now; the Lord help you find rest in the home of another husband.” (Aww, nice!)
At first, Ruth and Orpah protested, saying, “No! We’re staying with you.” Naomi eventually convinced Orpah, and she left to go back to her mother’s home. But Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law.
“But Ruth replied, ‘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
Okay, so once Naomi heard this, she knew that Ruth was serious, and that she really was going to stick by her side. So the two women arrived at Bethlehem, and lived together there. Ruth followed harvesters at their work in the fields, picking up any leftover grain they left behind to feed herself and Naomi. As it turned out, she was working in the field of Boaz, a man from the clan of Elimelek and a relative of Naomi. He noticed Ruth gathering the leftover grain in the fields, and asked the overseer, “Hey, who’s that girl over there?” So the overseer told him who she was and what she was doing there. And Boaz said to her, “Hey, listen, stay here in this field; don’t go find another field to glean in. Stick with the other women in the field. I’ve told the men not to lay a hand on you; you’re completely safe here. And whenever you need a drink, help yourself to the water the men have gone to fetch.”
Ruth, naturally, was surprised and delighted, but confused. She didn’t know what she, a foreigner, had done to make him notice her. Boaz told her, “I’ve heard all about what you’ve done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death — how you left your parents and your homeland to come live with an unfamiliar people in a new land. May the Lord, the God of Israel, whom you have come to take refuge in, repay and reward you for what you have done.”
And so their relationship began. Ruth continued to glean in his fields and tried her very best to be the most obedient and faithful servant she could be. Boaz kept his eye on her the whole time, making sure she was all right, once inviting her to share mealtime with him, and even ordering his men to pull out some stalks from their sheaves and leave them for Ruth to pick up. (Double-awww!) When Ruth came home each day with enough grain to last for a week, Naomi got curious and asked, “Where did you glean today? God bless the man in whose field you worked!” Ruth then told Naomi about Boaz, and then Naomi told her that he was, in fact, of the clan of Elimelek, and a relative of hers.
Naomi knew that she had to find a husband for Ruth, and Boaz had obviously proven himself as a man of the Lord. She hatched a plan to get things moving between them (see Ruth 3-4). Boaz could see what a loving and devoted servant Ruth was, both to him and to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and he married her. Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of David, of whom Jesus Christ was a direct descendant.
Think about that. That’s a huge deal! So, if Ruth was the mother of Obed, and Obed was King David’s grandfather, then that means that Ruth was directly related to Jesus, the Savior of Mankind! Why is this such a huge deal? Well, Ruth started out as nothing special. She was just a poor widow and a foreigner in Judah. But Boaz took notice of her good deeds and saw what a loyal, loving person she was, and so did God. The story of Ruth proves that God can take even ordinary people and transform them into something wonderful. It proves that God has the power to write a beautiful happy-ever-after for all those who love and believe in Him, just like He did for Ruth, the poor Moabite servant girl. This is great news!
All her life, Ruth was nothing other than loyal, obedient, and full of love for her mother-in-law and the Lord. She didn’t do anything amazing to deserve credit. But the Lord took notice of her because of her gentle and obedient spirit, and her servant’s heart, loyal till the very end. Her life was a true model of the way God wants us to live. What if, starting today, we took Ruth’s story as an example for our own lives? What if we stuck by our friends through thick or thin, no matter what life threw at us? What if we carried out all our tasks obediently and without question? And, most importantly, what if we loved the Lord God with our whole hearts and surrendered ourselves completely to His unending love? If we managed to do this, we can be sure that the Lord would write for us the same happy ending he wrote for Ruth so long ago. God has wonderful plans for you and me, plans of unimaginable joy and peace with Him! However, before we can know of these plans, we have to put our whole heart, soul, body and mind into living like Ruth did. Of course, as humans, we are incapable of doing this on our own, but the Lord can help us to live the way He wants us to. All we have to do is ask Him!
So today, let’s try and turn our lives around and begin again with a new perspective: the perspective of a loyal servant of the Lord. Surely our deeds will bring us much happiness in our lives, and much joy to others; for God never forgets any of His servants. He has wonderful plans for all those who live the way He commands us to, and the story of Ruth is assurance that no good deed or act of kindness goes unseen.
“Well done, good and faithful servant.” ~Matthew 25:23
Your friend, Olivia