The Story…a random journal from my pen…(week 9)

We’re finishing up Week 10, but before we’re through, here are my notes on Week 9.  “As It Happens” was the “kind-of” title our minister gave as we studied Ruth together.  The Story titled chapter 9 “The Faith of a Foreign Woman.”  Both titles mean something to me.  If it had not been for the faith of this foreign woman, how would the love story between God and all mankind have truly been displayed before Christ?  Aren’t we all “foreign”…to His holiness?  His righteousness?  His goodness?  His sinlessness?  How would New Testament Jews have recognized their Kinsman Redeemer if not for their Old Testament Grandmother?  How, even, would I?  “As it happened” for Naomi and Ruth is a ‘beauty made out of ashes’ love story; “as it happened” for Anastasia, and for all who have come to know the Lover of our Souls, is one and the same.  Could we dare to believe that even in the “land of Mara,” God is working it all out for our sweet good?

Chapter 9…Sunday and Wednesday of week 9:

(Still in the midst of the time of the Judges)

ELIMELEK:

It all begins with Elimelek’s decision…a questionable decision at best

God had told the Israelites to stay away from them to protect them from corruption…but during Israel’s famine, it seems Elimelek was focused on a Lower Story perspective:

Truly God is good to Israel,
to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
They seem to live such painless lives;
their bodies are so healthy and strong.
They don’t have troubles like other people;
they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
and clothe themselves with cruelty.
These fat cats have everything
their hearts could ever wish for!
They scoff and speak only evil;
in their pride they seek to crush others.
They boast against the very heavens,
and their words strut throughout the earth.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
drinking in all their words.
11 “What does God know?” they ask.
“Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
12 Look at these wicked people—
enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
every morning brings me pain.

15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
But what a difficult task it is!

Psalm 73a

Mahlon, Kilion – Elimelek’s son’s – were names of Moabite gods…this family seems to lose themselves in the Lower Story…they had the intention to escape poverty and death…their end was their spiritual poverty and ultimately their physical death

NAOMI:

After losing her husband and sons in Moab, Naomi returns home under the burden of a different “name” – Mara: bitter

Reality is hard to swallow when we look back and see the “mara” was caused by our own disobedience

How often do we trade our Royal Names – those telling the story of God’s goodness and redemption in our lives – for a “name” to be called in this world?  Pretty.  Wealthy.  Successful.  Balanced.  Secure.  In control.  Popular.  These are the names that I used to think would be the life of me.  Just a few instances of trying to “bear” those names proved just the opposite – they would be the very death of me!  It doesn’t seem like it should work this way – this Upside Down Kingdom of God’s.  The Way where vanity is to be accepted as fleeting as we pursue a fear of the LORD.  The Way where security is not found in attaining wealth and success but in surrendering it all to Him.  The Way where being in control so that your life doesn’t get too off-balance with this “religious” thing is traded for being a Radical for Christ – the person who doesn’t hide or extinguish their light in the midst of everyone else’s darkness, but shines it bright as she leads them out of the darkness.  The Way where being known by men is traded for being known by Christ.  It all seems rather impossible – until you know your life is hidden in the One Who knows no impossibilities!

God is working when we see nothing at all.

It’s the thread of God’s plan weaving every day events…in the simple life…

God is always at work on our behalf and for His glory and for the Ultimate Story!  (Romans 8:28)

Through Naomi’s declaration that God is against her, she acknowledges, even in the midst of the pain, regret, and anger, that God is still involved IN their lives.  Maybe she just couldn’t believe that God would still be involved FOR their lives.

It’s always best, when we find ourselves lost in the Lower Story, to quickly admit, confess, repent, and go home – back to Father!

Naomi had lost hope for a kinsman redeemer…God was waiting with open arms…to redeem her.

RUTH:

Ruth may have began with a borrowed faith, but it quickly became her own

(In the midst of living in a land where God was not honored, had Naomi tried to honor Him anyway?  Had she tried to pass on Truth in the midst of living in the lie?)

Returning to her family in Moab may have seemed like security, but Ruth chose a different Way…

17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
you will laugh at their silly ideas
as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.

21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.

Psalm 73

BOAZ:

“As it happened”…Ruth ended up in Boaz’s field.  (As it happened…Ruth ended up in God’s care.)

Even our random, every day, simple life, decisions get all woven together by a God Who knows what the tapestry is supposed to look like.

As it happens…Rahab…was the mother of Boaz…who’s wife was Ruth…who’s child was Obed…who was the father of Jesse…who was the father of David…who was the father of…JESUS…

Elimelek had done what was right in his own eyes…a faith based on sight

Ruth had walked on a faith based on the evidence of things not seen

Just because we can’t see how life is going to work out in the Lower Story is no reason to not trust God!

Boaz simply, quietly, modeled Christ

(When we cast ourselves at Christ’s feet, as Ruth cast herself at Boaz’s, we show we are dependent upon His mercy.  He calms our fears.  He keeps His promises.  He daily loads us up with His blessings; He is our Provider.  All we have to do…is GO HOME.)

Do we mirror God’s love to those around us?  Do we bless God?

________________________________

Ruth uncovers and lays down at Boaz’s feet…

It was submission, a cry for help.

The Israelites were to reflect the heart of God.

The Laws were there to guide the Israelites to live out the character of God and to draw them into relationship with Him

Kinsman Redeemer Qualifications:

near relative

willing to redeem

ability to redeem

out of debt

pays the full value for the redemption

Boaz followed this Law, though he was not required to, as he was not the closest relative.

Jesus fulfilled this Law, though he did not have to.

Now I am protected and provided for

God’s grace has no limits!

We – The Church – are to live the Ruth Story – our heritage – so that just like the Jews had something to look back on when they needed to recognize Jesus as Kinsman Redeemer, others will have someone to look at when they need to recognize Jesus as their Kinsman Redeemer.

27 Those who desert him will perish,
for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

Psalm 73

*Ruth, though not an Israelite or a person of any stature in her world, chose to live like the REDEEMED precisely because she walked the path of REDEMPTION.  Unknown.  Not easy. In faith.  Willing.  Humble.  In integrity and honor.  Expectant. Finding full JOY in the simple, obedient steps she took daily.