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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'd Like To Get To Know You Better...

Well, we've arrived at chapter three... finally!  Did you ever think we'd get here?  I love chapter three... so many great perspectives, so many more attributes of Ruth that are admirable pop up here.  And dare I say that things might heat up a bit?  And I'm not talking about the weather.  Yes, this is a Bible study, but it is also a great human story, and these two are very human.  Yet, at the same time, nothing short of inspiring.  Come with me to the threshing floor, will you?

 Read verses 1-6 of the third chapter of Ruth.

 We see here that Ruth and Naomi are having a conversation about finding a more permanent home for Ruth.  I love it here that Naomi refers to Ruth as 'daughter'.  Clearly Ruth has worked her way into Naomi's heart - just like a daughter.  Now, Ruth has worked in the fields gleaning through harvest time - roughly from late April to early June.  Some time has passed since we were introduced to the kinsman redeemer.  I wanted to point that out so you can see that God didn't jump in right away and 'fix' their situation.

Have you ever had a situation that you wished, or maybe begged, for God to jump in and change it?  I know I don't stand alone in this.  It is hard to wait for God to make His move, isn't it?  We are in the middle of one of those seasons now and there are times where I just want to shout out in frustration, "Come on already!  Enough is enough!"  I'm not getting sassy with the Lord, just crying out to Him in a most human way.  I know that when the time is right God will make His move in our situation.  His timing is perfect and He is a good God.  I can trust His timing, even though I'd prefer to work on my own time frame thankyouverymuch! 

 Naomi basically tells Ruth that it is time to move on.  Find a husband.  Get on with your life already.   She realizes that Ruth is young and attractive and worthy of finding a new mate, so she is going to try to open those doors.  Verse two states that Naomi is telling Ruth to go to the threshing floor,  Boaz will be there for the night.  Now, the threshing floor is an interesting place for Naomi to have sent Ruth.  My understanding of the threshing floor is that is was a fairly promiscuous venue.  The men stayed with their grain all night, usually having had an alcoholic drink or two to help pass the time, and the local prostitutes were well aware of this and found it a great place to 'pedal their wares', so to speak.  I'm not sure why Naomi sent her there, especially at night.  Maybe she was trying to force a situation that the Lord already had plans for.

We then see Naomi give Ruth a very specific set of direction in a specific order.  {We can now add 'obedient' to the ever-growing list of positive attributes of Ruth's character.  She carries all of the instructions out completely and faithfully.}  I thought it curious that she told Ruth to "wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes."  Did Naomi know that if you want to be pursued you need to be someone worth pursuing?  That yoga pants and a hoodie weren't the best choice?  Or was this a discreet message to Ruth that her time of mourning was to be over, she was now free to remove her garments of mourning and grieving and move on?  Some scholars say yes, some say no.  I like to think Naomi was sincere in her desire to see Ruth happy and provided for and was insinuating both ideas at the same time. :0)

We also see here that Naomi gets men.  She seems to truly understand them.  She tells Ruth not to approach Boaz until after he's eaten and drank for the night.  She understands that timing is everything; he will be more receptive after he's relaxed and full.  Verse four tells us that Naomi gave Ruth specific directions to uncover his feet after he has fallen asleep and just lie there.  He'll take it from there.  Now, if you can picture this scenario in your head, you might come to the same conclusion I did.  This could turn out really badly.  Ruth appears at night, he's had a bit to drink, she makes the first move in uncovering his feet, and she is in a place known for promiscuous behavior.  Did Naomi know this and somewhat set Ruth up?  Did she hope nature would take it's course and Boaz would have to marry Ruth?  I'm not sure, but like I said earlier, I think her intentions were pure, even if how she went about accomplishing her plans lacked somehing.

 I can't help but wonder how Ruth was feeling as she faithfully followed all of Naomi's instructions?  Was her heart pounding?  Did she feel like a fool?  Did she feel like she even stood a chance with this man?  What if he flat-out turned her down?  What if he only wanted to be friends?  Oh, what a vulnerable place to be!

Ok - so by now you have to be asking yourself the same question I asked myself.  What in the world does uncovering his feet have to do with the price of tea in China?!  Good question!  Ruth's uncovering Boaz's feet was essentially saying, "I'd like to get to know you better." She was laying her intentions and feelings on the line here.  It's kind of like being the first one to say "I love you" in a relationship.  Yikes!

Now, Boaz has never read the book of Ruth - he has no idea of what's coming!  All he knows is he has a pretty little lady at his feet, one he has already expressed much care and concern for and here she is!  Up to this point Ruth has followed Naomi's directions to a 'T'.  But watch what she does here.  In verse nine she states "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman redeemer."  She throws a curve ball in there and flat-out asks Boaz to marry her!  Whew - you go girl!!  She is bold,  brave and completely humble.  While we see the phrase 'spread your garment over me', what she is really asking is for him to cover her with his wings.  Garment or skirt can be translated more specifically in to 'wings'.  And I don't believe she was on a frantic search for Mr. Right here.  I think her concern for Naomi was paramount in her mind.  Naomi's future would be secure as well as her own.

 Ruth had cast all her hopes and fears, her status as a foreigner and even her deceased husband's legacy at the feet of Boaz.  Now all that was left to do was wait.  That is just how we do it as well isn't it.  Some of us toil and work, struggle and strive and try to control everything and sometimes you get to a point when you have no other choice.  Just lay it down.  Lay it at the feet of Jesus and rest in Him.  I have no idea what burdens you carry, what fears you wrestle with, what demons you battle.  But, if you can picture yourself as Ruth, coming to the threshing floor with only herself to offer - absolutely nothing else - know that that laying down of battles is so liberating.  Freedom like you've never known.  And, oh, what God can do with a life surrendered at His feet, is nothing less than remarkable, nothing less than something beautiful.

 See you soon.


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