“Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected? Once we truly see God at work, we will never be concerned again about the things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in heaven, whom the world cannot see.”
~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
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.”
I imagine Ruth and Naomi living in a very tight circle of relationship. I imagine women, because of the customs of the day, being intimately close with just a few other women. These relationally tightly knit women truly lived life together—daily working side-by-side, helping birth one another’s babies, keeping one another’s secrets. They could finish one another’s sentences and with one look understand each other’s thoughts.
Then these particular intimate women experience a crisis—a cataclysmic change. Naomi, God having withdrawn His blessings from her, her faith at a low ebb—told Ruth in no uncertain terms to go home and pick up with her family where she had left off. As I understand it, Naomi loved Ruth deeply, but Naomi didn’t want the struggle—or didn’t have the emotional energy for the struggle—that she knew would face her when she arrived in Bethlehem with a Moabite at her side. She ordered Ruth to depart, but Ruth wasn’t interested in doing that. We read one of the most heartrending and beautiful pleas in scripture as Naomi first confesses her deep love for her mother-in-law, and then goes on to confess her faith in the true and living God. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth had made a decision to worship Him alone. She was willing to forsake her father and her mother and cling to Naomi. Ruth was determined to accompany Naomi and live in Bethlehem with God’s covenant people. Ruth was a Moabite and there was a divine law that said she could not enter the congregation of the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:3). This wasn’t simply prejudice, it was divine law. So how could Ruth enter Bethlehem? It was only by God’s grace. Ruth threw herself completely on His mercy.
Ruth banked everything on this one woman—Naomi. This was an incredibly deep and risky emotional investment Ruth made in Naomi. It’s really difficult for me to get my head around this kind of single-minded devotion. The best I can do to understand is to think back to all the women I have known in my life. Which one of them would I forsake everything for? So I start by writing down their names. The list of women who have influenced me fills one entire page of my journal. There are over 60 names squeezed in sideways and in all available spaces. My list has a title—Women Who Showed Me the Way—and includes both relatives and friends, people who I knew both in and out of church, and through all the many seasons of my life. As much as I loved, and still love, some of them I don’t know if I could have done what Ruth did.
Yet I’m so moved by Ruth’s story. I see it as a story of redemption and new beginnings. I see Ruth as a woman with determination and grit who disobeyed the will of her mother-in-law to serve a God she saw as her redeemer and savior. Ruth’s story is a tapestry with both light and dark warp and weave woven throughout it. Without the dark stain of her Moabite heritage, her father-in-law’s and her husband’s death, the brilliance of God’s redemptive love for her and her trust in Him would not shine through. Ruth’s story ends happily, and I know that too is God’s blessing, which satisfies us deeply. Sisters, all our stories will end happily if we truly choose to love God and love others. He has wonderful plans for us, just as He had wonderful plans for Ruth. Trust Him!
So listen when I say that the happy ending isn’t really that Boaz married Ruth and the rest of her life was secure and happy, rather the happy ending lies in God’s plan to redeem the world through Naomi and Boaz’s offspring. Read that genealogy at the end of Ruth chapter 4 and smile.
Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if I could have a big huge party and invite all the women on my list? Mind-blowing. With Facebook and Evite, it might just work.
Pray through this excerpt from Psalm 62. Allow these words to permeate your heart and mind today:
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
If you are seeking a daily devotion that will adjust your wandering heart when it is, like mine often is, terribly off-kilter, consider Oswald Chamber’s timeless classic My Utmost For His Highest. Then here’s a song that is new to Real Life by Passion featuring Kristin Stanfill called How Great is Your Love. You serve a glorious and gracious God. Worship Him.
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 39 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is on the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.