By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director, Missionary for Missions Education and Customization, Missions Innovator Specialist (WMU, SBC)
Who doesn’t enjoy a good love story? And if we have had a part in the matchmaking…well…that is even better! On occasion I have been accused of trying to “match make” in the lives of my three sons, especially where my oldest is concerned. But then again, he did marry a young woman he “happened” to meet while visiting us in Baltimore.
One of the highlights of my year is the Barnesville Church Women’s Rally. This year while preparing, I was reading the love story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. Even though I know the story well, it spoke to me in new ways this year.
Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons were living in Israel in an unstable time. Saul was coming into power and Bethlehem was in a drought. Perhaps it was these circumstances that drove Elimelech to move his family to Moab.
It was in Moab where tragedy struck. Elimelech and her two sons die. Naomi, battered and weary, makes the decision to return to Bethlehem with Ruth, her daughter-in-law by her side. So…
Would someone follow me unconditionally because of my faith? When Ruth said, “wherever you go, I go… and your God, my God” she was declaring her new faith. Naomi had made such an impact on the life of this young woman that she was ready and willing to leave her false religion to worship the God of Israel. How many of us would love to hear someone say, “Because of the way you have impacted my life I want to accept Jesus as my Savior?”
The pursuit of goodness and mercy. Boaz is smitten with Ruth as she gathers in grain from his fields. He gives his staff instructions to take care of all Ruth’s needs. The twenty third Psalm tells us that goodness and mercy will PURSUE us all the days of our lives. This is goodness and mercy in pursuit of Ruth. Regardless of what we are facing in our future we can be assured that goodness and mercy are right on our heals pursuing us!
Let the love story begin! Naomi realizes there is potential in this relationship and that Boaz could be their kinsman redeemer. (Is it coincidence that he is in Bethlehem, where the ultimate kinsman redeemer shows up?) She also knew what Ruth would need to do to get his attention. Naomi could not have claimed the promises of her culture had she not known to seek them. Don’t miss the importance of knowing “biblical culture”! If we do not know the promises of God we cannot claim the promises of God. Take His promises to heart and claim them!
Naomi shares her cultural knowledge with Ruth and tells her how to pursue Boaz. If you know the promises of God, share them with those who do not. Just think what would have happened if Naomi had not told Ruth what to do. Am I telling others how to attract our “kinsman redeemer?”
Ruth’s pursuit. Ruth follows all the instructions of Naomi and pursues Boaz. Matt. 7:7 tells us to seek and we will find. Rev. 3:20 tells us to knock and the door will be opened. And Rev. 21:9 says, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” The lesson here, PURSUE CHRIST.
The believer’s love story. Ruth is the story of every believer. She was redeemed even though she wasn’t a Jew. She was brought into a position of favor just as we are brought into a position of favor with God. She was endowed with riches and privilege just as we are endowed with the riches and privileges of Christ. She was the redeemer’s bride just as we the church are the redeemed bride of Christ; laying at His feet under the hem of his garment today, but His bride at His coming. She was loved with profound love just as Christ loves us with the profound love of the cross.
“Blessed by the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life…” Ruth 4:18.