Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Ruth Response

Ruth 1:16 But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.

As I was spending time in the word, and going through the book of Ruth, I began to ponder Ruth and Naomi. This story struck me differently than ever before, probably due to where I am in my own life.

Naomi and her family had gone to the land of Moab, her sons had married Moabite women; Ruth and Orpah. Naomi's husband died and then so did both her sons, at this point Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem, and tells the girls to return to their families, Orpah does but Ruth says no, she wants to go with Naomi- she tells Naomi that wherever she goes that she will go with her, Naomi's people will be her people, and Naomi's God will be her God. 

Ruth saw something of value in Naomi, even when Naomie couldn't see it herself. Naomi was feeling abandoned by God. She even said, "call me Mara," translated- call me bitter. Naomi is feeling overwhelmed and alone and is not able to get past the feeling of loss- I can understand how that happens when you lose focus on the Lord.

Somehow Ruth had seen past the fear and distress in Naomi and even in her own mourning and loss she knew that Naomi had something in her life that she wanted. My best guess is that she had witnessed it during her marriage into this family that knew the one true God. I'm sure that they honored the traditional Jewish traditions, holidays and feasts, and through this Ruth had begun to develop a heart that was seeking the true and living God. This is the heart I admire, her response to Naomi was the beginning of what I call the Ruth Response.

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth's love of her mother-in-law was evident by her willingness to serve and provide for her. She went to glean in the fields and that is where God began to move on Ruth's life, through her obedient heart. Ruth was seen by the field's owner, who was a relative, and he told her where to glean and made sure that there was provision for her. 

When Naomi found out, she told Ruth that Boaz was a near relative, and that she should go and lay at his feet at the threshing floor, and Ruth obeyed. She lay down at his feet while he was sleeping... She was literally laying at the feet of her redeemer. 

Because her heart was pure to seek the living God, she was redeemed from her widowhood, first provision for her and her mother-in-law, then she gained the love of Boaz and finally she had a family, and from that family would come her grandson, David-- the son of Obed, the King of Israel, a man after God's own heart.

In my own life I have been blessed, I was married to an amazing man, a man that loved God with his whole heart. I have four terrific kids who love God and are serving Him (and through them I have 2 equally terrific bonus kids). I have 4 grandchildren who are being raised to know the love of the Lord. I am part of a wonderful family and also an amazing church family. Through all of these I have come to know the love and strength of the Lord, more and more each day.

That being said, I can't say that each day has been completely a 'Ruth' day... I want it to, but I have my Naomi moments. Fear can creep in during the low points- "Will I be able to pay the bills?" "Can I deal with issues that may arise?" "Who can I talk to during my moments of fear and frustration?" Yep, low points that happen, whether I wanted them to or not. But when they hit, and I realize what is going on, I push past and begin to refocus where I need to, the Lord.

What I admire in Ruth is that she kept focus, she knew that God would provide, she understood His faithfulness and trusted in Him. Obedience to what those around her said, those that she trusted. Again I feel this is because she saw the Lord's hand on them.  I want to have that focus on God, rather than stress, I want to remember to lay down at the feet of my redeemer- Jesus. I can do this anytime, I don't have to sneak in at night to a threshing room floor. I can lay down at the feet of the Lord at anytime, sometimes it may be in a litteral, prostrate position of laying down, other times it is a heart thing, laying down my fears and trusting that my redeemer will provide, I need to remember at every moment the importance of; letting go and letting God.

Another example of the feet of the Lord as the place to be, is seen in Luke 10:38-42

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

God has shown himself so faithful this last year, I am blessed, and sometimes ashamed of myself for going into a Mara mode... I need to remember my name, Mary, the same as another woman who chose the feet of the Lord.

My prayer; Lord give me a heart like Ruth, one that is obedient to do as You ask, and rest at the feet of my redeemer.