Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Little Did They Know

Life unfolds in a "little do we know" way.  It can all feel so mundane sometimes, like we're treading water and going nowhere.  It can seem, despite our most fervent hopes and small, but strenuous acts of courage, that it all won't ever really mean much in the big picture.  The Book of Ruth, toward the beginning of that best selling compendium of all time, is a window into the "little do we know" drama of simply putting one foot in front of the other.

From the get go, there is a famine in the land.  Little did anyone know THAT was coming, or how it would alter the worlds of a pleasant Jewish lady, her husband and sons, and the foreign daughters in law who would be swept along by forces they did not control.  To cut to the chase, Elimelech and Naomi must face the reality of a lousy economy in Bethlehem, Judah.  They take their beloved sons and relocate to Moab, where, little did they know, Elimelech would die, followed by his two sons.  Naomi is left with Ruth and Orpah, the daughters in law who are both the kind I hope to get.  Ruth is the real gem, though, and one of the stars of this wild love story.

Naomi is returning to Bethlehem.  And without spelling out the whole, beautiful 1st chapter, here's the crux:  Ruth refuses to leave her mother in law, despite Naomi's urging that she stay and find a husband among her people.  This is where we get that famous biblical quote heralded at many a wedding:

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.  Your people will be my people, and your God my God..."  Ruth 1:16

Little did Ruth know that her devoted words to her grieving relation would be the truth spoken for thousands of years between men and women locked together in a no-matter what kind of love.

Naomi and Ruth are in pretty desperate straights there in the town that would one day birth the answer for every desperate heart to come.  Naomi's loss leads to bitterness, to the point where she tells her friends not even to call her Naomi ("pleasant") anymore, but to call her Mara ("bitter").  This can and does happen when sorrows so deep suddenly change the landscape of our days.  But little did Naomi know, that all of this trouble would be part of a master plan for God's glory and her good.

An empty stomach is a huge motivator.  Ruth takes advantage of one of the customs to care for the poor of her day and gleans grain behind the threshers in the field of a wealthy landowner. But little did she know this one act of desperate survival would lead to the salvation of the world...sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself.

It turns out the owner of said field is Boaz, just about the nicest, most appealing man along the entire highway of scripture.  He's a middle aged guy, good to his workers, fair and decent, and a distant relative of Elimelech, Naomi's dead husband.  Boaz sees this poor, lovely young woman scraping up a living and instructs his men to leave her alone and his girl servants to keep her close.  He finds ways to provide her with extra grain without shaming her, and shows her the tenderness and affection every red blooded woman wants.  

Fast forward, and a grateful and loving Ruth offers herself as a servant to Boaz, in a custom involving sleeping at the man's feet and being covered by a corner of his blanket.  Today it sounds odd, but it was how it worked back then.  Boaz was a kinsman redeemer, and had the right (after the first guy in line let it go) to buy Elimelech's land and marry Ruth.

Little did Ruth know she would become a Jewess, and go from poverty to riches,  materially, spiritually and emotionally after a period of great loss, pain and separation from all she had known.  Little did she know she would be the great grandmother of the greatest earthly king ever (David), and the great, great, great.....and so on grandmother of the King of All Kings.

Little did Naomi know her bitterness would turn to joy as she held her grandson in her lap, restored to her homeland and in the company of a loving family.

Little did Boaz know that his acts of kindness would give him the woman of his dreams when he was getting gray in the temples, and land him smack in middle of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Little did any of the people in this story know that their lives would impact mine, 3,000 years later in an American suburb, where the hearts of all remain desperate for courage and hope and meaning and faith.

Keep doing the next right thing.  Practice loyalty like Ruth, perseverance like Naomi, and love like Boaz.  And know this:  God is always at work, in the unseen, in the unraveling, in the undoing.

The cross looked like the end.  Little did they know, that it was really just the beginning.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


This one is for my dear Pastor.  Little do you know, brother...

No comments:

Post a Comment