I confess I want to know how it all is going to turn out.
What will be the outcome, what will be the result, what will life be like, what difference will my choices ultimately make and specifically what will God do in and through my children and grandchildren? These, of course, are things I really cannot know.
Neither could a young Moabite woman whose name was Ruth. Her life is recorded in the little book in the Old Testament that takes her name. The context of her life: marriage, death of her young husband, no children, chaos and choices she has to make either to stay home or leave her family and country and accompany her mother in law, Naomi, to another land with a different God, with no guarantee of what the outcome will be.
With tenacious faith and commitment Ruth declares to Naomi, “I am going with you. Where you live, I will live. Where you die, I will die. Your people will be my people, and (most significantly) your God will be my God…You can’t get rid of me!” This is what faith looks like.
Ruth and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem, Naomi’s home. Naomi declares to all that her name should be Mara (bitterness) instead of Naomi (pleasantness) due to the bitter hand that God has given her — the death of her husband, death of her two sons and now no hope.
Ruth, however, rolls up her sleeves and goes to work on behalf of herself and Naomi — long hot hours gleaning grain in fields already harvested. She is observed. She is female and a foreigner. She is vulnerable. Her circumstances are uncertain and potentially dangerous. But her reputation and commitment to Naomi are known and esteemed as “excellent.” So Ruth just happens to glean in the field of an older single man, Boaz, who is a close relative of Naomi’s. Boaz extends his help to Ruth, becomes Ruth’s protector, benefactor and eventually her husband.
After a time Ruth becomes the mother of a son, Obed.
Obed has a son as well whose name is Jesse. To Jesse is born David, the greatest king of Israel and from this same lineage is born Jesus, the “Son of David,” Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, Begotten of God, King of Kings, Hope of the Nations, and the Hope for each of us who know and trust Him.
Ruth, great grandmother to a king. Ruth, in the very lineage of Jesus.
I believe there are some things I, and perhaps you, need to learn from Ruth and her life.
Ruth had no idea of how it would all turn out. She had no way of predicting these outcomes. This was all unknowable. She just acted in faith, went to work and left the outcome to God.
I believe Ruth knows now and one day so shall I.
Gary Kopsa is the chaplain for Volunteers of America, Northern Rockies.