Friday, September 20, 2013

Always up to something: Bible Flannel Board on Ruth

Lately I've been reading in the book of Ruth.  I love short books of the Bible because you reread them over and over and in different versions and it helps me wrap my mind around it and ponder it (meditation as we church goers like to call it).

Anyways, what has stuck out most to me as I've reread this lovely little, most unconventional love story is how much God works behind the scenes to orchestrate his purposes.

Here's a cliff notes version of Ruth:

1.  Famine in Israel.  A man (we'll call him Eli) moves his wife and 2 sons to a different country where there is food.
2.  His sons take foreign wives ( a big no-no for because foreign wives = foreign gods)
3.  Tragedy strikes and Eli and his sons die.  Being a widow at this time was not a good thing because as a woman you had very little (if any) social status.  How were these women going to survive?
4.  Eli's wife Naomi returns home to Israel with one daughter in law, Ruth.
5.  Ruth goes out to glean ( process that was God's own version of the welfare system to make sure the poor had something to eat)
6.  Lo and behold Ruth ended up going to Boaz's field.  Boaz was a cousin of Eli and by custom was eligible to take over dead Eli's property and marry Ruth so that she could have a baby to continue her husband's family name (a big deal to people back then).  Now, many pictures and people will present Boaz as an old geezer and Ruth as a hot 20 something babe, which, let's be frank, is just gross.  Yes, he was probably older  But let's just imagine he's a hunky older guy like him

Or him

7.  Naomi sees what God is up to and tells Ruth to take a bath and go wait til Boaz is drunk and happy, lay down at his feet (at his feet you see, not spoon with him; let's have some modesty for pete's sake).  So Ruth does it and presumably scares the crap out of him, but they talk and he agrees that he could marry her and golly,  that sounds like a good plan.
8.  Boaz goes out cause in this whole "kinsmen redeemer" thing he's second in line.  Ah, but the first guy couldn't do it because it would have nullified his own inheritance which evidently was a bit swankier and may have included better land and a girl hotter than Ruth for all we know.  (I'm being very liberal with my interpretation of this story).  So he declines it.
9.  Boaz wins this rose ceremony, gets Eli's land, marries Ruth and they have a baby.  Who is an ancestor to Jesus.  And who, interestingly, kinda had two dads because even though he was the biological child of Boaz he carried the name of Ruth's dead husband.

So, you may have missed it, but do you see all that had to come together so that this would work?

Something prompted Ruth to go with Naomi and want to travel to a distant land knowing they had no way to make a living.

Boaz was rich and single (and hunky according to me).  How is it that he had not taken a wife already?  He was a catch.  Ah, because God was up to something!

How is it that of all the fields Ruth could have gone to she went to the field of Boaz?  And that Boaz just happened to be a really cool boss who checked up on his workers and made sure everything was all right and noticed this chick?  He had developed a good work ethic and was a good boss, all for a reason.

Things could have turned out really badly the night Ruth snuck up on Boaz as he lay sleeping.  Someone could have seen her and ruined her reputation.  Boaz could have responded differently.

First dibs guy could have taken Ruth but he already had an inheritance lined up.

Ruth hadn't been able to have children for whatever reason with her first husband but did with Boaz.

Coincidences, all of these?  I think not.

God was moving YEARS BEFORE in preparation for this story to unfold just as it did.  And really, we are only given about 4 pages of it, and you know there were probably a gazillion other things involved in this story than we know about.

Do you understand?  God is always working, always moving setting things up behind the scenes.  "Happen or happen not, there is no coincidence" Yoda might say.

I don't have any great wisdom about this other than to remind you that God is always moving, always working.  He is not lazy.  He does not take breaks.  He does not sleep.  Trust him with your story.  Let it unfold and play out and see Him in it.  He is everywhere, on every page of your story.

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