>Preposterous Faithfulness

>The book of Ruth is small. So small, in fact, that in my 90 day reading through the Bible, it does not even have its own day. It’s couched on both sides by the end of Judges and the beginning of 1 Samuel. I read it yesterday and though I can list the books of the Old Testament faster than anyone you know, I was surprised when I came upon it. It consists of four short chapters, easy to miss when surrounded by books of import and grandeur.

I have to admit, as much as I like the story of Ruth, I’m more drawn to the story of Esther, the other woman to have a book of the Bible named for her. I can learn from Ruth, but I want to be Esther. That is, until yesterday.

The Lord opened my eyes to new things from the book of Ruth. In previous readings I focused on the development of the relationship between Ruth and Boaz. Of course I was drawn to the love story that unfolded. What girl isn’t? I had never before questioned why Ruth followed Naomi. I didn’t think about the fact that she was given the opportunity to return to her family. I put myself in her shoes. I married a foreigner and now my husband is dead, along with my brother-in-law and my father-in-law. We hadn’t even had children yet. My mother-in-law tells me to go back to my family because she has no more sons to continue the family name. Now, other than my husband, my family is the most precious thing to me in the world. Yet, for some strange reason, I’m compelled to go with my mother-in-law back to her own country. This is crazy!!! I know women who have good relationships with their mother-in-law, but for Ruth to actually say goodbye to her family and leave her own country to go with her is absurd. It’s not mentioned in the text, but I have to attribute it to the Lord speaking to her. Why else would she leave her home and her country and go to a foreign land with a woman who changes her name to mean “bitter?” The consequences of this action are huge: if she had never gone with Naomi to Bethlehem, King David would never have been born and thus would have ended the genealogy leading to Jesus the Messiah.

The next time I wonder why God is leading me in a certain, seemingly nonsensical, direction, I will remember Ruth and the continuation of the Messianic line by her faithfulness to Naomi. I will trust the Lord that He is working out His marvelous plan even if I can only see the barest fragment of the picture.

Oh and if you’re interested in the 90 day reading through the Bible, you can find it here.

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