Cross road of Circumstances

12:15 PMHeather

She was a woman at a cross roads.  She'd lost her husband at a young age--before they could even have children.  They'd been married about 10 years, in fact, so we might assume that fertility was an issue.  Because, most certainly, having children was of the utmost importance in their ancient culture.  Any hope she'd carried through her torment of delayed dreams of motherhood now died right along with her husband.  And then, her brother-in-law died.  Surely, life had never been so hard for this young lady.  How was she to move forward?  What of her future?

Two summers ago, I was fascinated by Kelly Minter's study of Ruth.  Ruth is someone I could relate to--she'd faced some loss at a younger than average age.  Although she'd grown up in a pagan culture, we find her smack dab in the middle of the Bible as an extraordinary heroine.  There, at that crossroads--between the only home she'd ever known and a mother-in-law with no sons left--she had a choice to make.  In the opening chapter of Ruth, we see her cling to Naomi and weep.  We might thus assume they had a close relationship, a kinship--making her choice ever more difficult.  

I know the circumstances that some of you reading this face, and I know you feel at a cross roads, too.  Circumstances have overwhelmed you.  The unthinkable has happened.  Every day includes struggles and deep emotions from wounds and difficulties.  The life you'd always known--maybe even took for granted--is no more.  And just what are you to do?  How do you move forward from the quicksand of your circumstance?

Let's look to Ruth...because I believe she has some pretty important things to say.  The most critical moment in the entire short book of Ruth (in my humble opinion) comes in Ruth 1:16 when Ruth makes the declaration that would change her from an anonymous Moabitess to a women of amazing significance in the history of the world.  Ruth--having grown up in a land of many gods and pagan worship boldly declares to Naomi, "Your God will be my God."  She had a choice to make.  We all do.  When life is hard and we don't know how to move forward, will we choose to let Him be OUR GOD?  Will we choose to believe?  Will we choose to trust?  

There's one overriding truth I see in this book through Ruth's admission of faith.  You see, when you seek God, you will find Him.  When you say, "You will be my God!", you'll discover Him in the tiniest details of your daily struggles.  And the next part of this truth?  When you find God in your life, you will always find His favor.  Because it's his nature.  He is gracious and full of lovingkindness.  He is slow to anger, abounding in love.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

We have a problem in our culture because we tend to confuse God's favor with the idea that it involves good things that we are entitled to.  But, we see clearly in Ruth just what God's favor REALLY is.  Declaring God as her own didn't bring her dead husband back.  It didn't change the fact that she was a foreigner--not well regarded--alone in a land with only her mother-in-law.  It didn't change the reality that in order to eat, she had to pick up grain from the fields after they were harvested.  She essentially was begging for her existence.  Yet, Ruth, despite her brand new faith, grasped the truth of God's favor in a way that many of us could learn from.

Ruth knew that God's favor didn't mean things would always go well and right and good.  It meant, as Kelly Minter pointed out in her study, that Ruth chose to grieve forward.  Her pain and sorrow continued, but she chose to put one foot in front of the other, day by day.  God's favor didn't mean she suddenly came upon wealth and easy times.  It meant, as she said in verse 2 of chapter 2, that she would "pick up the grain behind anyone in whose eyes I have found favor."  It meant she'd see provision however it came--even if it wasn't easy.  God's favor was found by the humble heart of Ruth when she saw it as favor that she--a foreigner--would even be noticed by the owner of the land (2:10).   God's favor was seen in the kindness of a stranger and words of comfort spoken during her trials (2:13).  No, Ruth understood something I think we tend to lose sight of.  God's favor doesn't mean we never face hard times.  God's favor is found within those hard times, when He shows up in the tiniest of details.  And, if we lack humility and a keen eye, we are prone to miss it because we are blinded by our sense of entitlement.

Glimpse of grace:  Ruth was an ordinary person, like any of us.  But, she had some extraordinary qualities we can all learn to emulate.  She chose God.  Plain and simple.  In the middle of her pain, she simply said, "You are my God!"  She was humble and hardworking and willing to do whatever it took to move forward.  She had a grateful heart--seeing favor in the barest of provisions as she gleaned those fields.  She had eyes to see favor in being noticed, no arrogant attitude of entitlement there.  No bitterness or demands or ego.  She was bold enough to ask Boaz, the land owner, for continued favor yet humble enough to know it was not owed to her.  Pressing into the Lord is a way to respond to trials and transitions in life.  When we trust ourselves and our pains to Him, we will find Him worthy of our trust.  We can let Him orchestrate our steps, just as he did for Ruth.  And, for every time we choose to humbly serve, obey and submit to Him, we will be met with finding His favor.

May I remind you something?  That young Moabite widow, chose to go into a land where she would be rejected merely by her nationality and she chose to glean fields in order to find food for herself and her mother-in-law.  She chose God to be her God, no matter what.  And she had no idea what God would do for her in the end.  She could not have fathomed the favor she would indeed find.  It would blow away any expectation that childless woman might have ever entertained as she first grieved and wept and clung to Naomi.  

No, I don't think Ruth would have ever imagined marrying the kinsman redeemer--that kind land owner who just happened to have the distinct ability to claim Ruth as his wife according to laws of the Israelites.   Nor could she had fathomed that God would allow her to birth a son, and the tiny fruition of God's favor that she bounced on her lap was none other than the grandfather of King David.  Never in her wildest dreams do I think she would have conceived that her name would be included in Matthew 1, for all of history to note, as a woman in the lineage of Christ.  She, that humble foreign widow, was an ancestor of the Messiah.  

Let me assure you, my bloggy friend.  Whatever circumstance you face, if you will choose, even moment by moment, to declare that He is your God even in this trial, you will find His favor as you endure.  And, you can't even begin to imagine how He wants to act on your behalf for eternal gain and forever significance.  Please remember--no matter what today holds--that He is FOR you!

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