Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ruth: Trusting in the Lord with all her heart

How do you react to unsolicited advice?

Not good? Me too! I struggle to even listen, especially if it is given to me in a harsh or dogmatic manner. And it is particularly hard to listen to if it is coming from my mother, even today, when she is 85 and I am 59. You think I would have outgrown this by now. Ok, so I no longer roll my eyes, curse her out or hang up on her. Now I merely smile, nod, and change the subject.

So I am very impressed with Ruth who graciously heard her mother-in-law's advice:

One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

Boaz's feet would never be as cute
as my Gio's feet
I can envision this conversation and immediately start thinking of excuses and reasons to smile, nod and change the subject. Ruth is to get all prettied up to uncover this older man's feet and sleep next to him. Boaz is probably 20 years older than Ruth.  He would have been working all day in the hot sun and then partying all evening. Uncovering his work-worn and smelly feet while he sleeps off a long day and wine-filled night hardly seems romantic. And it was also risky. What would he tell her to do? Naomi is purposefully vague about what would happen next.

Despite these concerns and the risk, Ruth replies:

“I will do everything you say,” So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.   

Boaz awakes and finds Ruth and commends her for her loyalty to Naomi because because she could have sought out a younger man. Boaz tells her he is willing to fulfill the obligation of family redeemer and marry her, but there is a catch. Another man in the village is more closely related to Naomi than Boaz and God's law demands he be offered Ruth first. Even though Ruth does as she has been instructed, she returns to Naomi in the morning with the matter unsettled.

Proverbs 3:4-5 tells us: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. 

Faith is easy when it doesn't cost you anything. It is one thing to say you believe in God, quite another to take a risk, or to be obedient to Him if it costs you something. But that is what Ruth does here.

I think Ruth obeys her mother-in-law because she trusted her. From years of living together, Ruth knew Naomi was wise in the ways of God and loved her as her own daughter. Ruth and Naomi's relationship with built over time. Trust is earned as trustworthiness is demonstrated. The same is true of our relationship with God. It doesn't happen all at once. It is not perfected in one incident. Over time, as we get to know God, we learn He is good, He is faithful, He is merciful, He is wise. God does not rush us in this process, He is patience.

Thank You, Beloved, that You are patient with me as I learn each day to trust You more with each detail of my life. As Naomi only told Ruth the first part of what needed to be done, You also only give me the next step to take and wait for my obedience. Over time, I have learned to trust You with the step You tell me to take and the step that I cannot yet see. You have shown me You are faithful and true. Continue to help me to trust You with all of my heart, as Ruth did. When it doesn't work out perfectly at first, help me to still wait in faith.

Read this part of Ruth's story in Ruth 3.

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