I am not alone
You are with me every step
Seasons come and go
But You have never left
– Kristene DiMarco, Be Still
The book of Ruth is one story that is dear to me, striking the chords of my heart. As I read through the story again today, I am reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Here are 7 little nuggets I gleaned from the book of Ruth.
#1 God was faithful even though Naomi was faithless
The first word that struck me was what Naomi said to her friends when she returned to Bethlehem from Moab, “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.”
How many of us feel like Naomi? When we are assailed with afflictions and misfortunes, it is tempting to feel bitter against God. Naomi lamented, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter”. Naomi probably felt that God’s hand was heavy upon her.
Yet, although Naomi was faithless, God was faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). At the end of the story, Naomi was blessed by God to have a new family with Ruth, Boaz, and a grandson – the very lineage where King David and Jesus eventually come from. What a tremendous blessing! Indeed, ‘no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Hence, even though you may feel that God is not with you, He is always with you (Matthew 28:20). Even though we may lose faith, God remains faithful to us (2 Timothy 2:13). He knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He walks with you. He’s by your side.
#2 To receive God’s blessings is to position ourselves near His Living Water
Naomi moved from a place of famine to a place of living water. In the Bible, water represents the movement of the Holy Spirit. When we feed on God’s living water, we will never thirst (John 4:14). And ‘everything will live wherever the river goes’ (Ezekiel 47:9). Indeed, in Naomi’s life, we see how barrenness is turned into life! More than enjoying the life (or fruitfulness) of the land, Naomi also enjoy the redemption of family life. Through Ruth, she gained a new family of a son Boaz and a grandson Obed.
#3 Faithfulness positions you to receive God’s blessings
Ruth was loyal to her mother-in-law, Naomi, unto death (Ruth 1:18). As I read her words to Naomi, I wondered if I can say the same to God. Can I say to my God, “Don’t urge me to leave You or to turn back from You, where You go I will go, and where You stay I will stay” (Ruth 1:16a)? Can I say that I too will be loyal to my God for the rest of my life? Indeed, ‘the end of a matter is better than its beginning’ (Ecclesiastes 7:8). Like Paul, I hope to say at the end of my life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Because Ruth was faithful, she positioned herself to receive God’s blessings. When Ruth went out to gather wheat for Naomi and herself, the field she entered turned out to be Boaz’s field. Boaz was Naomi’s closest relative who could redeem Ruth to be a wife. While Ruth was faithful in working in the field, God provided her what she needed.
What does this story tell us? As we diligently work in God’s field – meaning His Kingdom – He will provide us the things we desire or need. It could be your lifetime partner, a job promotion, a child, restoration of health, care for elderly parents or full payment of debt. Jesus says, “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matthew 6:33).
The harvest field also reminded me of what Jesus says about the people who yet to know God. Like Ruth, we are called to be harvesters as well. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Even during His days, Jesus already said, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are white for harvest! (John 4:35b)” If Jesus said this 2000 years ago, would not the field now be more ripe than ever to harvest?
#4 God brings us our heart’s desire at the right time when we focus on Him
While Ruth focused on working in the field, Boaz came at the right time and saw Ruth. When we work in God’s field – His Kingdom – He will bring us our heart’s desire at the right time.
When Ruth was not looking, Boaz came into the field and asked, “Who does this woman belong to?” (Ruth 2:5). She caught his eyes. So, when we focus on working in God’s field, our boss or life partner will suddenly walk into our life and see us. They will ask, “Who is this woman?” or “Who is this man?” God will send our heart’s desire into our life at the right time – not early or late – when we are busy working in His field – His kingdom and agenda.
#5 Godly character attracts God’s blessing
Ruth did not catch Boaz attention, the first time when he saw her in the field. But he already knew about her from the good reports he heard (Ruth 2:11). This shows how our reputation goes before us, like a good fragrance. Ruth had a good reputation because what she did was consistent with what was said about her.
Furthermore, it was Ruth’s character that sealed the testimonies about her. When Boaz met Ruth, she was humble enough to bow before him, considering herself even less than his servants (Ruth 2:10;13). Indeed, her godly character is the one that testified her good reputation.
#6 Before God pours His blessings on us, He prepares us first
While we ask God to pour His blessings to us, we need to be prepared in character to receive His blessings. Ruth was a godly woman, receiving good testimonies from all who see her. It was not only God’s good timing in bringing Boaz into her life, but she was also prepared in receiving Boaz.
Sometimes, we asked God why He is taking so long to answer our prayers. But God is actually taking time to mold and prepare us to receive and hold His Blessings. Again, it is also our faithfulness to God, our constant availing to Him and doing what He says, that will position us to receive His blessings.
#7 In the end, Naomi became full because she experienced the love of God
Like Naomi, we may also exclaimed, “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.” We may feel empty now and wondered when God will fill us with the desires of our heart. But the only person who can fill our emptiness is God Himself.
Paul prayed for the Ephesian church, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know (experience) this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Naomi was able to experience the fullness of God because she was emptied from everything of her. It is in a position of an empty self that we receive the fullness of God. And so, because she was empty, God filled her with His fullness – His providence, His love, His security, His assurance, and His embrace. It is because of her journey through the dry and weary land, she found her God to be kind (Ruth 2:20) and faithful to her (Ruth 4:14).
Therefore, be encouraged my friends, it is in the empty self that God is ready to pour all of Him into you, so then we can all grasp indeed ‘how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’. Hallelujah!
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