Ruth: A Love Story of a Different Kind.
Read Ruth 1
“Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”
The story of Ruth (the third woman mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus) is seen as a remarkable love story. But a closer examination, the story is not just about the love of Ruth and Boaz. Nor is it just about her love for Naomi, her mother-in-law. It is about the love Ruth has for God and her desire to be identified with his people. The story is one born out of the depths of grief and tragedy.
Naomi and her family struggled in the midst of a devastating famine. The desperate straits caused by the famine are seen in their willingness to leave the land of Israel and seek refuge in the Land of Moab, the arch enemies of Israel. Tracing their roots back to the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters, the Moabites lived just east of the Dead Sea. Their culture was marked by violence, idolatry, and immorality. Before the famine would end, Naomi would lose her husband and her two sons. So devastated by the tragic events, Naomi wished no longer to be named Naomi (which means pleasant) but Mara (the word for bitter). What had meant to be a move to ensure the survival of the family brought about their demise instead.
Broken and embittered Naomi decides to move back to Bethlehem. Knowing that it would be unlikely that her Moabite Daughters-in-law would find acceptance and a husband, she encourages them to remain behind. However, in a remarkable display of loyalty, love, and faith, Ruth repudiates her own family, culture, and spiritual heritage and instead affirms her loyalty both to Naomi and to the God of Israel. Ruth not only travels with Naomi back to Bethlehem, but subsequently marries Boaz and becomes the great grandmother to David. Events that were birthed in the sorrow of tragedy are transformed in the end to be the foundation for the hope of all humanity. Through Ruth’s love, for Boaz, for Naomi, and the God of Israel, she becomes the mother of the Kings of Israel. When Ruth made her decision to remain with Naomi, little did she realize the eternal impact that decision would have.
This is what we often find difficult to understand in our own life. Our perspective is only governed by our past and its effect upon the present. Because we cannot see the future, we do not perceive how God will guide and use our decisions today to set in motion events in the future to achieve the outcome he desires. While God looks to the future, we cannot. We can only look to the past. But stories like Ruth reveal that events are not arbitrary in the outworking of God’s plan for our life. While we cannot see the future, we can trust in the one who not only sees but also governs the future. Ruth’s confession of loyalty in verses 16-17 was more than just an affirmation of loyalty to Naomi, it was an affirmation of her complete trust in God to guide her future and she would allow him to determine what would happen in her life. This is what makes the story of Ruth, a love story, not about her love for Naomi but about her love for God. When you make God the object of your love and trust, he has a plan for you, a plan that may seem hard at the time, but one that will bring about eternal results in the future. In the events that happen in your life today, he is shaping what will happen in the future. Take a moment to express your love to him and your gratitude that he has a perfect plan for your life, even though we may not fully understand his purpose.