Ruth was hard to write about y’all. I realized, as I was writing this, that it’s because she was everything I feel I’m not. Ruth was faithful, selfless, and constant. Ruth was everything that I pray to be and still fall short of each day.
As great as being faithful, selfless, and constant may seem, Ruth had a tough life. She was married and widowed within 10 years, and was faced with a decision that she had never planned on making. She had lost her husband, her father-in-law, and her brother-in-law, and the answer to her problem seemed simple. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, told her to go home, to go back to the family who raised her and the community she grew up with. How many of us have been faced with that decision? How many of us have had a chance to return to what was comfortable? How often have we had a chance to fall back into a sin that used to be so “comforting” or a chance to return to a group of friends that only dragged us down? Returning would have been so easy, so simple.
Ruth 1 says that, instead of choosing the comfort of returning, Ruth chose faithfulness. She clung to her mother-in-law; she refused to be separated from her. Do we cling to Christ? Do we cling to the only One who can promise us life in the midst of our own suffering and famines? Ruth refused to leave Naomi, and followed her to Bethlehem, believing that Naomi would lead her into the best-case scenario. Ruth turned from the gods she had been serving and chose to follow Naomi’s God, believing she would see His faithfulness. Ruth was faithful to the only family and provider she had known for the last 10 years. Ruth knew what it took to be faithful. The thing is, I run from Christ the minute I step into my famine. I continually choose to revert to trying things my own way, or turn back to the sins that promise an illusion of comfort. I had a hard time writing about Ruth’s faithfulness because I’m the least faithful person I know.
As Ruth and Naomi settle into their new life in Bethlehem, they find themselves living at the home of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s. Ruth asks Naomi if she can walk behind Boaz’s servants in the field and pick up the pieces of grain they drop so that she can provide something for Naomi. SELFLESS. Ruth asks for a way to provide for the woman who has promised to try to provide for her. How many times have we come before God and simply asked, “How can I bless you today? What can I bring to You? What is going to please You?” If I’m being honest, I can’t remember the last time I sat down for a quiet time and asked those questions. I had a hard time writing about Ruth’s selflessness because I’m the most selfish person I know.
The thing is, I don’t think that Ruth went about everything with a joyful heart and lived her life like the Proverbs 31 woman we have come to idolize. If I’m being honest, I like to think that she walked behind the servants, her back tight, her hamstrings burning, wondering what life would have been like if she had gone home. I like to think that she lay awake at night wondering if she had made the right decision. I like to think she questioned Boaz’s generosity and doubted his feelings for her. However, despite all the speculations and daydreams she may have had, Ruth knew that faithfulness and selflessness would lead her to true satisfaction. Ruth knew that living with character would allow her actions to be pure and Christ-like. She was constant. She was that friend that all of us pray for—the one we can always count on to show up, the one we call when things get hard. I had a hard time writing about Ruth’s constancy because I’m the least constant person I know.
As we continue in our Women of the Old Testament series, that’s what I want you to think about. These women have character traits that seem incredibly unattainable, but, when we really study their stories, we realize they’re just ordinary women who trusted in God for the “why.” From the outside, it looks like their obedience was easy. The thing is, though, their simple obedience took courage—courage that starts with recognizing our own heartaches and stumbling blocks and acknowledging the King we need to stand before. And then, we must choose to live that way. Sweet reader, let’s do it together. Let’s decide to be faithful, selfless, and constant together, and then do whatever it takes to reflect our Jesus.