Hey guys.

So, I would be lying if I said the past few days were just easy and happy summer days. They have been neither easy nor happy; I’ve had some major heartbreak lately, and it sort of feels like my world has been spinning out of control. And did I mention I get motion sick? So yeah, this whole world-spinning heartbreak I’ve been walking through has not agreed with me. My world is slowly beginning to right itself a bit, at least to where I can take a breath, and so I felt called to share some truths that God has shared with me. So, I present: Choosing God.

Have any of you ever heard of the First5 devotional app? If you have, yay! You may be to able to connect with this post in a more intimate way. If you haven’t, do yourselves a favor and download it. I’m not kidding. The lovely First5 community is currently doing a study of Ruth, Esther, and Song of Songs; the study has been affectionally named “Covenant.” I jumped in in the middle of Esther, but have since caught up on what I missed. Today, I want to share a few of my thoughts on the book of Ruth.  A lot of people view the story of Ruth as a sweet love story between Ruth and Boaz, a picture of God’s provincial timing and leading, or an example of what happens when we are faithful to our Savior. All of those views are correct, but I have come to view this small book in a totally different light…

I like step-by-step instructions, and the book of Ruth has come to serve as my four-step plan to surviving this whole life thing…

Step 1: We must consciously choose to stay with God.

So, this chick named Naomi was (probably) happily married to a dude named Elimelech, and they were blessed with two sons. The sons grew up to marry a girl named Orpah and a girl named Ruth. Now Naomi’s family was from Bethlehem, but Ruth and Orpah were native to Moab. What does this matter, you ask? In Bethlehem they worshiped the One True God, but in Moab they worshiped idols. Remember that, it’s important. One day, Naomi’s husband died. It was horrible, but she still had her sons and daughter-in-laws. But then, about ten years later, both of her sons were killed. This left only Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth; all as widows, which were treated horribly in those days. These three women were left alone, scared, and helpless. They decide to head back to Judah, but then Naomi realized that she was leading her daughters into uncertainty, and they may have a better chance at life if they returned home. So, she tells Orpah and Ruth to go back to Moab and return to their families. Orpah is heartbroken, but decides to go back to Moab. However, Ruth says: “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” {Ruth 1:16}. Orpah went back to Moab; therefore, back to a place where idol worship was practiced. But Ruth stays with Naomi, and in doing so, stays with God. She’s walking into a world of uncertainty, but she is sticking with the woman who will lead her to the exact place God needs her to be.

Sticking with God is a conscious choice we must make everyday. Everyday has little storms, and somedays there are storms that knock us down and then hit us with a bolt of lightning, just for good measure. Trust me, I know. Whatever your storm may be, recognize that it has placed you at a fork in the road. Are you going to return to Moab, back to the land of pagan worship and a false sense of security? Or, are you going to head towards Bethlehem, towards God? Ruth chose to stay with God, even though Bethlehem offered no hope of security or assurance of comfort. She chose to stay with God. Step 1: Stay. 

Step 2: Let God Lead You to Your Field of Hope. 

Once Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi let her grief and bitterness overcome her. She even asked the villagers to call her Mara, which means bitterness or tragedy. Ruth realized that they would need some food/livelihood, and so she got to work. She asked Naomi, er, Mara, if she could go gleaning in the fields. It was hot, rough, and even dangerous work for a woman, but Naomi knew they needed provisions and so she sent Ruth out. Ruth just happened to stumble upon a field belonging to Boaz (Yeah right, you can’t even attempt to believe that was coincidental) and starts to glean the leftover grains. Boaz notices how hard she works, and asks about her. Once he finds out she is related to Naomi, he realized that she is his relative. Ruth doesn’t know this until she returns home that evening, but she is so thankful for Boaz’s kindness as he enables her to get as much grain as she can. Now, her and Naomi could eat. They could probably sell some. They could live another day. What’s more, Boaz invited Ruth to come back for the rest of the harvest! This field she just happened to stumble upon became a field of hope for her and Naomi.

When you are looking around at the life you knew in shattered pieces on the floor, things can feel pretty hopeless. How can God work through this? How can any of this work for the good? What if I made a mistake? How will I make it through? It’s rough, I know. But in those moments, if we choose to stay with God, he lovingly leads us to our own field of hope. Think about it, Ruth didn’t ask Naomi which field to go to, she just went and allowed God to lead her. If we can just stay with God and let Him lead us, He will happily act as a guide, leading us to the field of Hope where we are supposed to be. Maybe that is Him leading us to a friend, a pastor, or even back to Himself. Wherever He leads you is exactly where you need to be. Step 2: Let God Lead You to Your Field of Hope.

Step 3: Wait for God in the Long Now.

Because of the laws back then, a widow needed to marry a relation of her deceased husband in order to regain stability and hope. For Ruth, Boaz was the man she needed to marry. Not only for her, but for Naomi as well. Naomi realizes this, and so she tells Ruth how to go about letting Boaz know her intentions. The instructions are weird to us, but they were perfectly normal in the good ole days. Ruth did exactly what Naomi told her, but Boaz tells her that he needs to take care of a few things before he can marry her. Ruth was expecting to come out of this interaction with an engagement. Instead, she is coming home with nothing but some Barley. But here Naomi says some very, very important words: “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens” {Ruth 3:18}

Okay, I am not a patient person. At all. Like, not even a little bit. If there is a conflict, I want it resolved as soon as possible. If there is a problem, I will stay up days on end in order to figure it out. But you know what? Sometimes storms don’t calm that quickly. Sometimes, God chooses to teach us patience rather than just saying the word to fix everything. I fell in love with the term “The Long Now” as soon as I read in my First5 devotion. Grammatically, it isn’t quite correct, but it holds so much truth. A Long Now is that pesky period of time where you aren’t where you used to be, but you definitely aren’t where you want to be. It is never comfortable. It is never fun. It is never easy. I am in one right now, and I can attest that it is none of those things. Whatever your long now may be, take Naomi’s words to heart while you wait. Be patient. Take a breath. And wait. You can be confident that God is still working, even in this sucky time of life. If you stay with God and let Him lead you to your Field of Hope, you can trust that He will lead you safely through the torment of step 3; waiting for God in the Long Now. 

Step 4: Let God Write the End of Your Story.

Ruth was faithful to God during her long now, and guess what? God worked it all out!! *and the crowd goes wild* See, there was a problem because Boaz wasn’t the only heir, and Boaz had to make sure the older heir didn’t want to claim the responsibility of taking on his deceased relatives wife and property. Once that was taken care of, Boaz was able to marry Ruth, have a son named Obed (I know, poor kid) with her, and live happily ever after. That in and of itself sounds like a pretty great ending, right? I’m sure after all of her waiting she was more than happy to close the storybook right there. But God had even bigger plans. I had never really taken notice of this before (and I have the entire genealogy of Jesus memorized), but….: “…Salmon was the father of Boaz. Boaz was the father of Obed. Obed was the Jesse. Jesse was the father of David” {Ruth 4:21-22}. Jesus came to save the world through the lineage of David. Think about it, there were A LOT of times where Ruth could have turned her back on God. She could have gone back to Moab with Orpah, or she could have let her heart be bitter like Naomi and refuse to go out and gather wheat when they arrived in Bethlehem. Once she found the field, she could have whined to everyone about her situation instead of being perseverant and, in doing so, catch the eye of Boaz. What about that time where she was so close to marrying her family redeemer, but then she had to wait and just hope Boaz could work things out? Yeah, she definitely could have turned her back on God then. But she didn’t. Ruth keep trusting that God would be faithful to her, and so she was faithful to Him. Because of this, she was able to play her part in the ancestry of Jesus. Without her, things may have been totally different. But even when her life felt shattered, she chose to stay with Jesus; she chose to let Him lead her to her Field of Hope; she chose to Wait for Him in her Long Now; and finally, Ruth let God write the ending to her story.

God brought about a pretty amazing legacy through Ruth (*cough cough* Jesus. *cough cough*). When those pesky life storms rip the solid ground out from underneath your feet… you have to take a moment to catch your breath before you can make a game plan. You probably have an idea how you want things to turn out… but what would happen if you laid down the pen and let God write the rest of your story? What if you stopped trying to plan things according to the ending you have in mind, and let God get out his hot glue gun and craft an even better ending? Sure, it is hard. Sure, it take faith. But I’m betting God could create a pretty amazing ending out of your story if you would let him. I mean hey, look how it turned out for Ruth.

Step 1: Choose to stay with God 

Step 2: Let Him guide you to your Field of Hope 

Step 3: Trust Him in the Long Now 

Step 4: Let Him write the ending of your story

 

There you have it, my jumbled thoughts on the book of Ruth. That is my attempt to put the hope I have found during this troubled time into words. If you have seriously read all of this post, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you have been encouraged, or at least kept mildly engaged. As always, I welcome comments and critiques with an open mind and heart. But if you really have a problem with this post, talk to God. He spoke the words, I just typed them up. Blessings.

“I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word” ~Psalms 130:5

 

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