The story of Ruth’s journey from pagan Moab to godly Bethlehem and the life that unfolds for her there paints a picture of what following God looks like. It is very easy to treat God like an invisible, unmoving thing that must be visited and honored with bedtime prayers and weekly church services. What Ruth shows us is that living a life of faith requires physical steps TOWARDS God. And before we all panic and say “What steps? Where are the markers? How do I get to Him?” Know that the way is actually quite clear. The steps to God are simply our doing what HE says, again and again.
In my mind, Moab represents the places in my life where I try to have it both ways. It’s where I want to live a life of faith, but I don’t really want to do what the Bible says. Moab is the place where I want to follow Christ, AND ignore my sisters who are struggling because of the color of their skin. It is the place where I want to feel good about doing my quiet time AND omit the part about living in relationship with people whose bank accounts are not like mine. Moab is the place where we say, Yes, I believe in God, but there is a to-do list or an image-to-maintain that just must be addressed right now; so I simply cannot walk toward Jesus today. And I wonder why my faith life feels stagnant.
Ladies, never has Ruth hit me so hard. I used to focus on the love story part and how she ‘happened’ into the field of the wealthy and godly Boaz. I would daydream about the good life Ruth and Boaz had together as leaders in that town. I would get so excited thinking about how that’s what Jesus wants for me. It is all good stuff; and it is truth on which it is absolutely worth dwelling. But we must look at what got her there.
When Ruth asks Boaz how he has come to notice her and give her this favor, he says this: “All that YOU HAVE DONE for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how YOU LEFT your father and mother and the land of your people, and CAME to a people that you did not already know.” Ruth 2:11. This affects you and me, because Boaz is a pre-cursor to Christ. In many ways, this story of how Boaz cares for, provides for and redeems Ruth gives us an understanding of the kind of redemption Christ is offering you and me. So, when Boaz is saying that he notices: 1) what she DID for her mother-in-law; 2) how she left her people; 3) how she came to a new land; I cannot help but think these are the things that Jesus desires of me. These are my stepping stones into the heart of God.
Let me be crystal clear: we cannot have a relationship with Jesus strictly by serving His people. We must spend time with Him in His word, listening to His voice, praying and worshiping Him. To be sure, Ruth learned many a lesson from Naomi as they tended house back in Moab about who God was and what His commands were. She had spent time learning about God; but in this story we see her physically moving TOWARDS God. There comes a time for all of us to move, to take steps away from Moab and towards our Redeemer. He awaits us in foreign fields and amongst people we have not always known but who are to be OUR people.
Before leaving Moab, Ruth profoundly vowed that Naomi’s God would be her God, and His people would be her people. I have read that verse so many times, but I never saw how I have not DONE this verse. I can see clearly how I have accepted God to be my God but fallen gravely short of seeing His people as my people. Sisters, there is a time for movement towards Him in our hearts, but there is also a time for moving closer to Him with our lives and often that requires a displacement from what feels normal, comfortable, and safe.
Displacement is scary. Leaving what you know and venturing to a neighborhood, a person, a daily routine totally different from your own - it feels weird. But it will be worth it. Boaz was waiting in Ruth’s field of displacement. Jesus is waiting in yours, with arms outstretched. Your love story… waiting to unfold.