What do you think about when you think about the scroll of Ruth? The OT goes, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and then Ruth. What comes to mind for you?
I think of the last 2-3 years. That through all the drama, chaos, confusion, disruption, starts and stops, something is being produced in us and around us as we wait. On a lighter note, I think of a game.
Do you remember the game? The one where you’d look at a hyper zoomed in image and then attempt to decipher what the larger image might reveal once the picture has zoomed out. Hint, there’s an example at the end of the article.
Often, we have a dizzying array of visual inputs in our lives. With the immense amount of information in front of us, we can miss the larger picture emerging. That’s what comes to mind when I think about Ruth.
Edward Campbell says it this way, in his Anchor Yale Bible Commentary:
“The Book of Ruth is an intricately woven, magnificently crafted story. It is a person wishing to communicate to his audience things very close to the heart of the Old Testament.”
What is very close to the heart of the OT?
All throughout Scripture God tells us that he does his best work, his greatest work through widows, orphans, weaknesses, and trials.
He is a God that works through barrenness to show his kindness. There are key inflection points in the biblical account that God will use a person’s bareness to show them His goodness. Do you feel dry, empty, and depleted?
Like C.S. Lewis once said, the things that you think are salt deserts in your life right now are really overflowing wells of grace.
In Ruth 4, the people say to Naomi, “Ruth is better than seven sons.”
Seven is the number for perfection and in a society where family and name and line mean everything, sons were the ultimate commodity. So, seven sons is the symbol for the perfect life.
And when the Israelite women say, “Ruth, your daughter, this widow [Naomi], an outsider, is better than seven sons,” they’re saying….
“The grace of God in your life is better than your wildest hopes and dreams for the perfect life.”
And if we surrender our life to God, like Ruth and Naomi, God will give you back your life. Not in the way that you imagined it, but better, bigger, greater.
This little story [Ruth] is intentionally framed at the beginning and end by the larger storyline of the Bible. Ruth shows us how God is at work in the day-to-day activities of average people.
All the characters face life’s common challenges (death, moving, lack of financial resources, familial responsibilities, etc.)
And we find God weaving a story of redemption out of all the details.
The good news is for those of us in Jesus, our identity is secure. And yet, there is still drama in our stories.
This book comforts us, in our drama and suffering, and it doesn’t minimize it. The book of Ruth pulls us up from our suffering and puts it in its proper place.
It shows us that the tragedies in our life are not ultimate, and that in having God’s grace embedded in our lives, our destiny ends in triumph.
So, God takes our suffering seriously and it points us to His past loyal love, His present loyal love, and the future loyal love. We can look back, knowing He’s faithful, and look ahead believing He is able.
Jesus is strong enough to do something about it (whatever is happening in your life) and loving to want to. None of our pain is wasted. All our tears are transformative. All our agony is used by the Almighty.
No matter how random or cyclical you feel your life is, God is advancing your story forward in Christ. He is nourishing you, giving life, vitality, and……redemption.
The book of Ruth is an invitation to see the fingerprints of our God in our weekly, ordinary, sometimes mundane aspects of life.
He is always working. Even when you don’t feel it, even when you don’t see it. I think of that verse from 2 Cor 4:16 – “So, we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the thing unseen are eternal.”
These small decisions [in Ruth] in a barley field, at the city gates, these would be the moments that would bring about Israel’s king, through whom God would send the Messiah, Jesus Christ, through whom we could be reconciled to God.
Each of us, if we’re willing, can take confidence in that there is one whom we can entrust our lives to.
Once more, no matter how random or cyclical you feel your life is, God is advancing your story forward in Christ. He is nourishing you, giving life, vitality, and……redemption.
Let’s trust him. We can do the next God-honoring thing, knowing there is a peculiar weight of glory that we might get to see soon, as we stay close to him.
While growing up in Arlington Heights, IL, it wasn’t until the start of my senior year did I start to wonder if Jesus was worth considering. For me, it took the intellectual, communal, and personal components to come together to say – yes – to Him. I like to say He captured the restlessness of my soul and like a guitar restrung my heart with the cords of eternity and it hasn’t gone back since.
Shortly after coming to know Jesus as my greatest hope and reality, my father died. Since then, I’ve taken great comfort in Corrie Ten Boom’s words, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”
Then, not long after that, a family member came out to me. For the first time this dimension of life – spirituality and sexuality – wasn’t an abstract concept, this was and is a person. After attending to them with grace and truth, an odd phenomenon kept happening to me, or has it been for something? Individuals would continually trust me with their questions, wounds, and curiosities about their sexuality. At this point, it’s climbed to 15+. From there, I’ve invested the better part of eight years being engaged with individuals and immersed in the dizzying array of literature on these areas of our personhood.
I’ve found Elizabeth Elliot’s words to have great bearing on our cultural moment: “Faith doesn’t eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them.” Two prayers that have grounded and guided my life are: “I long to have faith and obedience like those I see in the Scriptures, and I long to preach the gospel to the nations.”
Those are my life’s aims. Among my love of books, reflection, and nurturing meaningful relationships, I enjoy good coffee, jazz music, golf, snowboarding, the movies, pizza (pepperoni), cooking, the mountains, and the beach as well as traveling.
I hold an MDiv from Denver Seminary, and I hope to gain more clarity on pursuing a PhD in the coming years.
I’m humbled and honored to join the WGA staff and contribute to the on-going space they are curating for every person, every story, and every beautiful and broken aspect of our human experience.
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