Take Off Your Shoes

 Boaz went straight to the public square and took his place there.

   Before long the “closer relative,” the one mentioned earlier by Boaz, strolled by.

    “Step aside, old friend,” said Boaz. “Take a seat.” The man sat down.

Boaz then gathered ten of the town elders together and said, “Sit down here with us; we’ve got some business to take care of.” And they sat down.

Boaz then said to his relative, “The piece of property that belonged to our relative Elimelech is being sold by his widow Naomi, who has just returned from the country of Moab. I thought you ought to know about it. Buy it back if you want it—you can make it official in the presence of those sitting here and before the town elders. You have first redeemer rights. If you don’t want it, tell me so I’ll know where I stand. You’re first in line to do this and I’m next after you.”

    He said, “I’ll buy it.”

Then Boaz added, “You realize, don’t you, that when you buy the field from Naomi, you also get Ruth the Moabite, the widow of our dead relative, along with the redeemer responsibility to have children with her to carry on the family inheritance.”

Then the relative said, “Oh, I can’t do that—I’d jeopardize my own family’s inheritance. You go ahead and buy it—you can have my rights— I can’t do it.”

In the olden times in Israel, this is how they handled official business regarding matters of property and inheritance: a man would take off his shoe and give it to the other person. This was the same as an official seal or personal signature in Israel.

So when Boaz’s “redeemer” relative said, “Go ahead and buy it,” he signed the deal by pulling off his shoe.  (Ruth 4:1-8)

When Charis was born I knew I didn’t want her in childcare all day.  I left my job and went in search of another full-time job that would allow me to be with her.  I needed a job because we were getting Jeremy through grad school.  My superintendent put me in touch with another superintendent and we discussed possibilities.  I wasn’t exactly a strong candidate since I had a three month old and I was asking for flexibility.  Jeremy and I met with him and agreed I would interview at an urban church in Baltimore as an assistant pastor.  If it went well I would work there part-time and help start something called Great Commission Churches that helps churches plant churches and offers assistance to churches needing revitalization. 

There was one glitch in the plan.  One of the board members had announced he would leave if they hired a woman. 

The other problem was that he and his wife were probably 2 of only about 30 or so that attended the church regularly and they had been at the church for years.

Jeremy and I were really dismayed.  We figured we’d go and give it our best shot and pray that this man would at least listen to what I had to say and why I might be valuable to the ministry there.

The one thing that always stuck with me was that my superintendent just really felt positive about the whole situation.  And I admired him for at least saying to the board members….”you at least have to interview her.”  He didn’t even have to give them a gentle nudge, but he did.  Not only that but he seemed rather confident that this man would change his mind. 

My interview went well.  I was offered the job.  My superintendent told me later that this man who had threatened to leave ended up being my biggest supporter and advocate after my interview.   

I can’t tell you the countless hours I have spent laying awake at night worrying about something only to realize later that God was God and He knew what was right for me. 

I can’t say to know exactly what type of relationship Boaz and Ruth had.  Was it more like a business exchange or was there actually something romantic going on.  I suppose I could dig out a commentary and see what they say, but I won’t….I’ll just give my thoughts…..lol. 

I don’t think Boaz needed this bit of property, he seemed to be doing well with what he had.  But I’m a bit of a romantic at heart and I think they (Naomi, Ruth and Boaz) were on pins and needles waiting for this relative to decide if he wanted the property and Ruth? 

But God was God and he had plans.  Chances were good that this relative would want some extra property and a pretty girl…..but he didn’t.  And God answered their prayers.  Their union produced prophets and later King David who is ancestrally linked to Jesus. 

Always a purpose.  Always a plan.

I don’t know what you’re laying awake at night thinking about, but I do know God has a plan and a purpose and you are in it.  He very much has a plan for your life so much greater than we could ever understand.  He is generations down the road while we can only see this second of this day.

Today I urge you to take a few quiet moments, give over your worries, expectations and fear over to God, and as a symbol of your agreement with Him and your dependence upon Him, take off your shoes when you do it.

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