Short daily devotionals for the socially distanced. These are thoughts from my daily time in the word. I use a bible reading plan that will have me in a different section of Scripture every day.
I hope they serve to give you courage and hope. You can subscribe to receive them as a daily email at the bottom of the page.
Tuesday, April 28th
Reading: Ruth 1-4
I love the book of Ruth. It is like a tonic to an exhausted soul after the darkness of the close of the book of Judges. If I were to pick one theme (there are a few going on) from this action packed short story it would be this …
God is working, even in the midst of the mess of our human stories.
When I taught through Ruth, nearly a decade ago now, I confess that I may have gotten a little distracted in the finer workings of the relationship between Ruth and Boaz. This story shouldn’t be used as a guide to romantic relationships, although both Ruth and Boaz possess elements of godly character that could serve relationships really well, that is not the point of the story. The interactions between Ruth and Boaz read so mysteriously to the modern sensibility and occur within such a different framework of society that we ought to be very careful before imposing any of those norms onto our culture and context. I am not sure that I will be telling my daughter one day to head down to a significantly older man’s place of work, wait till he has had a few drinks and fallen asleep, and then curl up at his feet and see what happens. It is mysterious and complex and actually quite wonderful to get into if we had time, but we don’t, and that dynamic isn’t the big point of the book. The big idea is that God continues to work, to move, to shape, to redeem even in the midst of human suffering and trial.
He was still working even when Naomi had suffered to such an extent that she had grown bitter, and even embraced that bitterness as an identity. I don’t know how bitter you have to be to actually persuade people around you to just call you “Bitter” as a name and for them to be like, “yeah that fits,” but my guess is that it is pretty bitter. But, God was still working.
He was still working even when Ruth was vulnerable and exposed and poor. As a foreign widow she would have been at the mercy of so many people and pretty much every entrenched system, but God was still working, watching over her, allowing her to glean, bringing her into the property of an eligible redeemer.
He was still working even in the prosperity of Boaz, not allowing that success and prosperity to turn Boaz into an abusive and power hungry man, greedy for gain, overlooking the wellbeing of the vulnerable. Keeping someone tender hearted and just even though they are very successful is perhaps one of the clearest evidences of God’s work. It is a bit of a miracle.
He was still working in the risk that Ruth was prepared to take on the threshing floor, and in the honor and respect that Boaz showed to her in his response.
He was still working in the willingness of Boaz to take on a responsibility that he didn’t have to, and in the sure and bold action that Boaz took to assume that responsibility.
He was still working in securing the bloodline of King David, who would come from a line that would look compromised by human frailty and which would provide the earthly lineage to our great Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus.
He was still working in pointing us to that great Kinsman Redeemer, who would ultimately come as one like us, our kin, but one who could redeem us, our King.
You see, ultimately, the Bible tells one long story. It is the story of a God who still works in the midst of the mess of our human stories. He continues to do that today. Where can you recognize His work?
Courage, dear friends.