Monday, February 1, 2010

A brief study of Ruth . . .

You may be familiar with the story of Ruth, the woman from Moab who resettled in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi after Ruth’s husband, Naomi’s son, died. It made sense for Naomi to return to her homeland with no husband or son to help care for her, but Ruth didn’t have to go with her. She could have stayed in her homeland, but her loyalty and affection for Naomi caused her to go. We could also say it was God’s plan that created their alliance and strengthened their attachment, and we wouldn’t be wrong.

Still, it had to be frightening for Ruth to go to the land of Judah, where people from her homeland of Moab weren’t always welcome. She was going to a strange place with no husband, no father, no idea of what lay ahead, but she faced the change with trust in the person closest to her and a willingness to adapt to a new life, perhaps even joy at what might await her.

“Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God,” Ruth told Naomi [Ruth 1:16].

So despite her fear or anxiety or anything else, Ruth chose to “build” a new life. Sometimes we have to build a whole new life after a big change today. Sometimes we have to go to new places or accept new situations, perhaps with few people to trust or little information about what’s going to happen. Still, we can follow Ruth’s example and build instead of fear.

Ruth began her new life with what was right in front of her – work that could be described at best as menial and at worst as demeaning, but it was work she did with her usual attitude of trust and unselfishness.

One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to leg me do it.” Naomi replied,
“All right, my daughter, go ahead.” [Ruth 2:2]

Those who had no means of support (such as widows) could pick up any grain left in the fields after the harvesters had cut the wheat and barley stalks. It was perhaps the only food some of them had, and it wasn’t easy work, but Ruth accepted this work with honor and saw no shame in it [Ruth 2:7].

Our changes may demand that we adapt to activities or behavior we wouldn’t choose, but we can try to see everything as working toward God’s plan somehow – and I know that’s hard sometimes – but every bit of “grain we harvest” today may play a bigger role tomorrow than we could have ever imagined. Doing what’s in front of us with trust today – unafraid – means building bigger and better no matter what changes in our lives.

Despite a new home and new countrymen and no guarantee of their acceptance, Ruth built with trust and loyalty, and the floors of her temple kept going up whether she realized the significance of it or not. She remained humble and open to the circumstances around her, taking one day at a time and doing what she could to manage her change, nothing more. Her courage didn’t go unnoticed. Boaz, the owner of the field she was gleaning from, was impressed by her character, and his attention didn’t blemish her integrity.

“What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”
“Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
“I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.” [Ruth 2:10-13]

The story continues when Naomi explains to Ruth that Boaz is their “family redeemer,” which meant that he could marry Ruth so that she would be taken care of, because Naomi had no other living sons. The custom may sound strange to us, but in their time, it meant security and perhaps the difference between life and death for widows who inherited nothing to live on. Perhaps the custom could also have been abused in some case, but not this one. Full of integrity himself, Boaz followed all protocol and eventually married Ruth, perhaps building one of the biggest floors of their temples—Ruth gave birth to Obed, David’s grandfather.

God planned it, they built it.

We see that Ruth’s building, based on her integrity, honor, loyalty and courage, supported so much more, and from her life we see the potential for ours. All our temples (lives) intersect in ways we will probably never know, and some of the changes that come our way and frighten us the most may be the most necessary building opportunities we have.

It helps us to keep building unafraid when we understand that every effort we make and every height we reach impacts the future and the temples of those around us. Maybe you’re benefiting now from someone who overcame her fear of change to build with joy. Or maybe you’re the builder who’s touching others.

Either way, know that you can trust the work you see in front of you, and you can find the joy in a new page of blueprints when you trust that God is working with a plan that fits the best use of your life, just like He did with Ruth.

How could she have known what joys and blessings were in store for her when she embraced a monumental change in her life and never let go of the hammer in her hand? And knowing her story and God’s faithfulness to be here with us when we’re facing change, how can we not do the same?

May God bless your building . . . .

o ~ o ~o

What are some ways you can identify with Ruth?

What can you learn from her to guide you in your building today?

How will you help God as He continues to build bigger temples in your life?

o ~ o ~o

Download this study in pdf for easy printing for yourself or your group:
Go here.

Thanks for being part of our tour . . . please post your comments and stories for all our readers. See you soon! God bless you.


  1. Hi... This is my first visit to your blog... I loved how you said "we see pain, confusion, etc. and God sees a new blue print".... So true... Enjoyed your post very much...

    Be blessed,

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Holly, hope you'll visit often! Isn't it always our goal -- to see what God sees and make it all so much clearer and make us UNAFRAID :-) We'll begin Monday March 1 with our study of the fear of failing, hope you can make it, take care.

    Many blessings,