This week we began our study in the book of Ruth, and already I have learned so much that I have tremendous anticipation for what lies ahead over the next 4 1/2 weeks!
If you want to join us, it is not too late!
You can grab the Good Morning Girls Ruth devotional and workbook in paperback or on Kindle, and join my study group: Good Morning Girls in the Word.
The book of Ruth opens up by giving us a glimpse as to when this story occurred, somewhere between 1350-1100 B.C. – before Samuel anointed Saul as king.
Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled,
This was a time of tremendous spiritual confusion.
Between the handful of judges that led the children of Israel to repentance and back to serving God, were many more judges that were corrupt, immoral, idolatrous, and ungodly.
And yet, it was during this time that God chose to do a very miraculous thing through a very humble young woman and a grieving mother.
2 Lessons on Faithfulness From Ruth
In reading through the book of Ruth, I began to relate to her in ways I never have before.
No, I’ve never lost a husband, but I am a foreigner living in a land where I had to learn a new language and a new culture.
Everything was very strange to me the first few years and I felt (and many days still feel) out of place and confused.
And yet, she not only dives right in to supporting Naomi, but she finds shelter, security, and acceptance in the family; and eventually finds new love.
And the real beauty for me in this story is that in all of this spiritual turmoil in Israel, God chose to take the very first step in ushering in His divine redemption.
And He chose to use a foreigner.
A humble girl, who was perhaps confused and clumsy, lost in a culture that was strange and different, but so willing to be faithful that she put on a brave face so she could serve a woman who had become like her own mother.
1. Be faithful to mentor those God has given you
This week I’ve seen Naomi in a whole new way.
Perhaps it is because of my own wonderful and close relationship with my mother-in-law, who – too – has embraced and welcomed me into the family without prejudice or reserve because of our cultural and religious differences.
I am so grateful for her!
Being so far away from my own mother, she is very much a second mother to me and has been a great comfort to me in those times when I’ve been homesick.
And as I read about Naomi, and Ruth’s courageous decision to leave behind everything that was ever familiar to her, I can’t help but think that there is a powerful reason behind Ruth’s courage.
There is a powerful reason behind her fierce loyalty to someone who isn’t even of the same culture or faith as she is.
There is a powerful reason why Ruth was so ready to abandon her family and faith to embrace a new family, a new culture, and a new faith so different from her own!
Naomi must have faithfully and carefully cultivated a deep relationship with Ruth, becoming her dear mentor; discipling her.
Perhaps she mentored her in being a loving wife.
Perhaps she showed her how to be a careful homemaker.
And maybe she even demonstrated the importance of her faith in God, retelling stories of God’s victory and faithfulness to them in leading them from slavery to becoming a powerful nation.
While the Bible gives us no background in Naomi and Ruth’s relationship, I am certain that there must have been a deep bond cultivated on Naomi’s behalf with Ruth to compel Ruth to make such a bold move.
And this is an example for us.
Whom has God placed in your life to mentor and disciple?
Are you being faithful in leading them, discipling them, cultivating in them a trust that will allow you to speak into their life in a significant way?
2. Be faithful to those whom God has placed over you
One tendency we often have is to elevate our spiritual authority figures to a level of perfection that they will never be able to maintain.
We ascribe to them traits that only God possesses.
So that when they eventually stumble – and they will, as we all do – we lose confidence in them and abandon our loyalty and walk away from the relationship.
In Ruth 1:20-21, we find Naomi deep in grief.
But not only grief, she believes God has rejected her and purposely hurt her.
After many years of being away from home, her friends see her and the Bible says, “all of the city was excited because of them”.
And Naomi is like a lead balloon to their excitement.
A real party-pooper.
A Debbie Downer.
She says, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Mara”.
The name Naomi means pleasant, delightful, and lovely, while the name Mara means bitter.
Seeing Naomi’s melancholy and depressing response to the the happy and warm welcome she received coming home, Ruth could have grown a little disillusioned in this woman she so honored and respected.
Many of us would.
But rather than allowing Naomi’s depression and lack of faith in God’s goodness to color her perception of Naomi, she continued to serve her faithfully.
Whom has God placed over you?
Has your honor and respect morphed into more than God intended, leaving them in an impossible position to meet expectations that are not humanly possible?
Are you able to let them have feet of clay?
Yes, God holds our leaders to a higher standard, but not an impossible one. And the same grace that fills in the cracks of our brokenness and flawed humanness, also fills in the cracks of their brokenness and flawed humanness.
We see many “Naomi’s” in God’s hall of Giants of the Faith.
When those whom God has placed over us fail to live up to our expectations, or even fail in being the biblical example that they perhaps should be, we shouldn’t allow it to disillusion us, it should remind us that we’re all broken and flawed and need God’s grace.
And therefore, we will remain loyal in serving them.
We will remain faithful to their authority over us.
We will keep open heart to receive their mentorship and discipleship; allowing them to speak into our lives the wisdom God has so generously and faithfully given them.