Ruth 3:5 (the message)
Ruth said, “If you say so, I’ll do it, just as you’ve told me.”
This morning I finished reading the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. It’s only four chapters long and seems, at first, like an irrelevant story. God is not really mentioned or center stage…there is no powerful word of prophecy or amazing miracle.
And yet my heart absorbs the whisper.
The challenge and promise held in Truth.
The beginning of Ruth tells the story of Elimelech moving his wife and two sons to the foreign country of Moab because there was a famine in Israel. By the end of verse five Elimelech as well as his sons (who had married Moabite women) were dead. Naomi, wife and mother, was left alone in a foreign land with only her Moabite daughters-in-law.
As I read chapter one on Friday I was struck by something I had not seen in this story before. Elimelech was afraid his family would starve and so he moved them to a place outside of God’s promise. I am no Bible scholar but I’m thinking God had not instructed Elimelech to move away from Israel. No, I believe in his fear Elimelech made a choice to take matters into His own hands rather than trust God.
And the very thing Elimelech feared came to pass. He died. His sons died. Naomi was left with no one to care for her, far from her people and her God.
If you read on you discover the brave beauty of Ruth…a Moabite woman who refused to part with her mother-in-law and so followed her back to Israel. Now Ruth was in an unknown land and culture with little to no expectation for a future. But see the pages of her story vividly describe a woman who gave her life and future away for love.
Unlike her father-in-law Ruth did not take the reigns of control. She surrendered her future and her rights to a God she hardly knew. She followed Naomi’s instructions as she gleaned for leftover grain in the field of Boaz. She humbly served in the face of fear and danger.
Courage was not running away or attempting to fix and control.
In the last verses of Ruth she is revealed as King David’s great-grandmother. Ruth the Moabite, with a heart of courageous surrender, is in the lineage of Jesus. See, her trust and surrender of her rights and hopes made way for God’s perfect provision. Boaz married Ruth. In The Message Boaz calls Ruth a courageous woman, a real prize.
For me this morning, I see two starkly different ways of living. I can live like Elimelech, trusting in my own plans and limiting God’s ability to supernaturally provide and show up in life or I can live like Ruth.
Surrender my future. My hopes. My rights. My fears.
In the face of uncertainty…when the mountain looks too big to climb…when the way out seems easiest but God has not said move…or when comfort and control screams stay but faith says go…
I can echo Ruth: If you say so, I’ll do it, just as you’ve told me.
If we want to live a life that builds a rich legacy we must do what others may not. Trust in the passionate love of our Redeemer. Courageously follow.
In the gospels Jesus tells His followers that if you will lay down and lose your life you will find it. Isn’t Ruth a colorful picture of this? She put herself aside to serve and love someone else…she esteemed the needs of her mother-in-law above her own. In our culture and mindset this seems weak and counter-intuitive. Yet Ruth lived a glorious life…her needs were not only met, she grew into a woman of destiny and character.
God has greater plans for our hearts and lives than we could ever dream or work out in our own effort. But a God-life is a Ruth life…surrender, humility and the courage to be last.
Living last may not win accolades among the ranks of men but God in Heaven takes notice.
What a rich legacy…a life that draws the attention and power of Creator. A life uncommon.