Ruth RevisitedFound in: Destiny in Bloom
“Go back to where you came from, Ruth, while you still have a chance. I have nothing left to give you,” my mother-in-law pleaded with me.
Oh, I could fill a riverbed with all the tears I have cried for her son. If only I could swim across it and touch his hand on the other side, if just for a moment. There are some days I still seem to forget: Mahlon is never coming home from the war.
“No, I’m not leaving you! Please, Naomi! Please don’t force me to choose.
Where you go, I’ll go, too–wherever that may be! Whoever become your people will be mine too. And your God will be my God. We’re in this for as long as we live!”
So there I stood, in my late Mahlon’s native land with no job, no money, not even any children.
I kept standing; even when that was the only thing left I knew to do.
Mahlon and I were supposed to raise a family together.
We dreamed of building a lifetime of memories complete with children and plenty of pets, too.
We dreamed we would build a ranch with a wrap-around porch, complete with rocking chairs and lemonade.
We dreamed of “Mahlon + Ruth = forever.”
But he died, leaving me nothing but this folded up flag, which can never replace his hands brushing the hair from my eyes, or his sweet tender voice that eased my anxious heart.
I don’t suppose I blame Naomi for trying to “free” my sister-in-law and me after her sons died. I just couldn’t bear to leave her here though. I may be a foreigner, and now a war widow at that, but Naomi–I just don’t know how I would respond if I lost my only children. Somehow it seemed my duty to remain along her side, to stand by her no matter what. And I am determined to find a way to make it work.
Maybe I can work night shifts at the grocery store down the street. Maybe I can clean the stalls in a ranch. Maybe I can serve coffee at the diner.
Maybe, just maybe, if I close my eyes for a moment, it will all just disappear …
“Next order is up!” yelled the cook and I, arising at my cue, followed the waiter to the Miller’s regular table, filling up mugs of coffee and chocolate milk–of course only after first bending down to kiss their newest baby on top of her head. “What a lovely little girl you have here!” Her little eyes twinkled, already delighting in the attention.
Wiping the counters off after another double shift at the diner, I noticed that someone had generously left a couple plates of leftover fried chicken, mashed potatoes and creamed corn next to my purse.
Who would do that? Geez, I was just happy to have the job! It didn’t bother me a bit to bus tables or pour coffee, working the shifts that no one else picked up, because there, I witnessed the favor of God; He faithfully met me in my time of need. He cared about me.
“Those plates were probably from Boaz,” I speculated. He was always such a kind owner of the diner–handsome too! He often let me have longer lunch breaks and gave me free coffee and doughnuts before my morning shifts. Gosh, I love a good french press coffee–oh, and those blueberry doughnuts are out of this world!
“It’s a good thing you’re doing here, you know, Ruth,” Boaz said, walking up to me with a couple slices of pie, too. “Caring for your mother-in-law and all o’that, that’s a fine thing indeed.”
He knew. He knew about Naomi, about Mahlon.
I stammered as I tried to respond, and he stopped me, saying “May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” I didn’t really know what to say after that.
“He did WHA-A-A-T?” Naomi asked, nearly dropping the creamed corn from her spoon.
“Okay, Ruth–I have an idea …” she said, leaning in with a smile spread widely across her face that I hadn’t seen in many years.
This Old Testament story picks up next where Boaz begins showing even more special kindness to Ruth; meanwhile, Naomi instructs her noble young daughter-in-law how to restore the honor to their household by a marriage to him. Boaz goes before the leaders of the city and proceeds with the steps towards marriage in the most proper manner. They marry, and my love for fairy-tale endings is soon enough satisfied! Stories like this one (even with my loosely-interpreted version) convince me that God must have a lot of fun matching up virtuous men and women together. He is the master storyteller and He loves to redeem things that are dead, gone, and seemingly hopeless.
What I love most about the story of Ruth is her display of virtue in spite of a painful process. Process is not the times I often display virtue. Sometimes I just want to cuss people out or smack them upside the head and be virtuous later–you know, after they stop irritating me.
Hard Working – Ruth was an extremely hard-working woman: “She went out and worked hard all day in order that she and Naomi could eat.” (Ruth 2:17) Imagine working in the fields, a dangerous place where a woman could be molested or worse, just to pick up the leftovers in hopes of a meal or two for her and Naomi.
Hopeful – Ruth could have wallowed miserably in the reality of her circumstance. And it’s quite possible that she did wallow a bit for a while, as I imagine any woman would if they were widowed during the war. But Ruth didn’t stay there. She got back up and decided that wasn’t going to be the last chapter of her story. She remained hopeful and optimistic and actively pursued a better future.
Determined – Her determination first to remain with Naomi and then to work hard to ensure their security is noble and virtuous at the very least. She was a foreign woman in a culture that offered women little to no opportunity, and yet she was not deterred by it. She, by seeking and following the instruction of her mother-in-law remained determined even to find a husband; and boy, did she find a good one!
Loyalty – Ruth was loyal to her covenant of marriage and stayed by her mother-in-law’s side even after she legally could have remarried. Her sister-in-law left, and yet Ruth remained. Her loyalty to Naomi is one of the main attributes that drew Boaz to her; a rare display of virtue was probably just as hard to find then as it is now! By her loyalty to Naomi, she honored her husband, and returned honor to their household. And from that household came the lineage of David and ultimately the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Ruth knew there were more chapters to the story, and she walked virtuously through the each of them during that process until she saw the faithfulness of God on full display. And because of that, she went from being a foreign war widow to being the great-grandmother to King David. What an upgrade, eh?
What about you? Are you walking virtuously throughout the process today?
Whether or not your response to the process looks like Ruth’s, I encourage you to submit yourself unto God and allow Him to work within You during the process:
“God, there is no tear I have cried that has missed your glimpse, no moment that I ever carried a load that You didn’t help me lift. I thank You that you are constant; You are faithful; and You make all things new–even when all hope seems gone, You restore and breathe Your life into the most dire circumstances of my life. You bring redemption and hope. God, I thank You that there are more chapters to my story and You, YOU are the master storyteller with whom I will entrust my future, to order my steps as I submit my will unto Yours. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Lord, let Your will be done IN me and THROUGH me. Amen.”
(Originally Published in www.destinyinbloom.com.)