Monday, January 18, 2016

A Damsel In Distress

This morning I read in Ruth, one of my favorite books of the Bible. No matter how many times I read it, the story tugs at my heart.

First, you have Naomi, who has literally lost everything. She's in a strange land. Her husband has died. Her two sons have died.

In those days, it wasn't like she could just decide to go back to school and support herself.  The fact that she was left without a husband or male children meant that she would be a burden on society. She would be forced to take whatever handouts she could get and live on those.

So she decides to return home.

To a home, mind you, that she really doesn't have... because she wasn't allowed to own property.

To a home that she has been away from for a long time. Will they even know her?

There's that old saying about you can't return home again... but Naomi returned.

I'm not sure how far she traveled to go home. I still can't fathom in my mind walking from country to country the way that they had to... with no gas station to sell Diet Coke or no McDonalds golden arches or no hotel to check into... not even a rest stop with a toilet.

I can't even get that image in my mind.

But she put one foot in front of another, and her two daughters in law went with her.

They must have loved her.

No bad mother in law jokes here. They were willing to leave their home, everything that they knew, to follow a woman who could promise them nothing. No security. They didn't even know what she was returning to...

So she persuaded one to turn back. I'm pretty sure I'd be like Orpha. I love my mother in law, but to trek to another place that I know nothing about to depend on the kindness of strangers?

Nope, I'd just be heading right back to my Daddy's tent and reminding him of how much he loved me when he married me off to that foreigner.

But Ruth. She stays with Naomi. She follows her on that long, dusty road.

"Entreat me not to leave thee...."

She says.

I'll go where you go, even if I don't know where that is or anything about it.

That's faith.

I'll live where you live, even if it is in a tent, even if it is under a bush because we have no means for anything else.

That's dedication.

Your people will be my people, even if they look different and talk different and behave different.

That's a new identity.

Your God will be my God, even though I can't understand one God who is sovereign and merciful... and how that God could allow everything that you had to be snatched away from you.

That's relationship, not just religion.

And I recognize that I may die, that our journey isn't going to be easy... but where you die, I'll die, and I'll be buried there.

Because I may not understand it, but I know that Your God has a plan. I may not be able to put into words.. and I see that you are suffering... but Your God will make a way.

Or maybe she just had a bad relationship with her own folks...

But regardless of her reasoning, Ruth set out with Naomi.

It couldn't have been a pleasant journey. They were penniless. Naomi tells people later to call her bitter, so her disposition probably wasn't the most pleasant.

But Ruth is faithful.

And then, when they get to their destination. Ruth sets out to care for Naomi in the only way she knows how.

She goes to a field to pick crops.

Not just any crops. She gleans those which were left behind by someone else.

How many of us would be willing to do that? To willingly take the leftovers? To work hard for those left overs? I see so much entitlement in this world- I deserve the biggest and the best.

But we're told to be humble.

So Ruth worked hard. She continued...

kept going. Even though she didn't know the outcome. She's a damsel in distress that isn't just sitting around waiting for her prince to come.

But... her prince does come. He sees what she is doing. He's heard how she cared for Naomi. He provides for her and then serves as her redeemer... giving her everything she ever dreamed and even more.

You may feel like you've had the rug swept out from under you. That you've lost everything. You may tell others to call you bitter. You may be working hard and think no one's noticing. You may be gleaning seconds and feeling left out. You may feel like giving up...

but there's someone watching you. He's numbered your days and knows how many hairs you have on your head. He sees you working... and is faithful that He'll help you complete that work, in His time. He longs for you to turn to Him and ask Him to redeem you... and you'll be able to stop working so hard, because He's already done all the necessary work.


Thank you, Jesus.

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