Tag Archives: Ruth and Naomi

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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Strong One

“But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.”  (Ruth 1:20-21)

 

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you are probably somewhere between denial and acceptance or you have past through this journey.  I went through them.  I’m still going through them.

 

Tomorrow I start radiation.  Six weeks, everyday.  I am left to wonder how I might fair through all of this.  I have heard that some people fair better than others.  The biggest complaints are a sunburn feeling, including some as bad as blisters and fatigue.  Considering that I am fair skinned and grew up having allergic reactions to the sun called a sun rash at the beginning of every summer….I am a little fearful.

 

I am also a little angry.  I am just healing from the mastectomies.  I have worked diligently over the past two weeks to stretch and massage my scar as much as possible in hopes that I might fair better through radiation, but I still wake up every morning tight and I have to stretch again.  Sometimes in the mornings I wonder if all my work to gain flexibility is in vain.  But the truth is that I feel better than I did a few weeks ago even if I am sore every morning.

 

Every step of this process has forced me through these stages.  Obviously the early days were worse than they are today as I start radiation, but I have gone through denial at each step.  Last week I emailed my oncologist just to double check that I REALLY needed to do radiation. 

 

So I can identify with Naomi here.  Maybe you can too.  Maybe you have breast cancer, or maybe you have lost someone you love or maybe you’re being forced to trek through new territories. 

 

I am tempted at times to think that the Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow, but the truth is…..I think he’s angry for me today too.  Let me explain….

 

I view God in so many different ways.  I love the way the Message Bible translates Naomi’s description of God here as “Strong One.”  Without a doubt I believe He was strong enough to take away my cancer.  But He was also strong enough to allow me to have it as well.  AND he is also my friend and I have a personal relationship with Him and I believe He mourns with me and is angry with me and rejoices with me just as my best friend would.

 

When I was in college ministries I had a student who was angry with God.  There was just a lot of junk in her life and it just wasn’t a good idea to defend God at that present moment.  I just reminded her that Jesus cried out on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  I can’t know exactly what Jesus was thinking at that moment, but I think He felt forsaken and maybe even a bit angry hanging on that cross in humiliation and unimaginable agony.  He had a genuine relationship with the Father, He could be real.  You can be real with someone when you have built a relationship with them.

 

So be angry with God.  He is a big God.  I have shed a tear or two with Him over these past months and I probably will again tonight as I brave this unknown territory.  But He has been my rock so far.  He has gotten me through days I never thought would end.

 

He is the Strong One.  He is your Friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Friend

“But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!”

When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in. And so the two of them traveled on together to Bethlehem.”  (Ruth 1:16-18)

Ruth had a hard decision.  Go the safe route with Orpah, back to her people and familiarity, or travel into the unknown.  Commentaries will say that Ruth loved her MIL so much that she couldn’t part with her.  That might be the case, but I think Ruth was willing to travel the more difficult path.  She wouldn’t leave her MIL in crisis.

She had no idea where she was going.  She knew very little of the God of the Israelites.  And even Naomi knows she won’t be having more sons and Ruth probably isn’t going to be “miss bachelorette” as a moabite woman in Judah.

Ruth had a lot of unknowns and her future looked grim and she had every reason to turn back.  Who can fault Orpah for making the decision to return?

On this breast cancer journey we don’t really have a choice to travel this path of the unknown.   We don’t get the option of turning back. 

When I was diagnosed with IBC I had about three weeks of testing before I started chemo.  During that time I was sure they would tell me it was all a mistake.  It wasn’t.  In fact things got worse when they found it in the other breast.  I tried to figure out how I could get out of having chemo.  I couldn’t.  Then with the mastectomies I traveled to U of M sure they would tell me that since the cancer was gone after chemo I wouldn’t have to have mastectomies.  I did.  Now I am at the eve of starting radiation.  I don’t want to do radiation.  I will.

I am taking the path of big question marks.  The difficult road. 

But I’m not alone.

Just as Ruth traveled the difficult road with Naomi, John describes Jesus as the friend of all friends:

“When the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is.” (John 16:12)

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Ruth stuck with Naomi.  Jesus walks with you.

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