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The girl who wouldn't go home
The story of Ruth (& Naomi)
In a Jan 26th article in the Austin Daily Herald, three basketball players from local high schools were featured because they have embraced their role as practice players, always there, always doing their work in practices, but seldom getting into the games.
Their names don’t get a headline. Seldom are they even mentioned in
the sports pages. Rarely do they take the big shot and their court time is
limited but cherished.
While the players at the top of the rotation look forward to playing in
20 or more games a year, the reserves look forward to the 60 or so practices
Today's topic is about two women... whose lives were like the opening line of Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities.... "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Our text is the Book of Ruth - the whole book is only 4 short chapters. During the time of the Judges (maybe about 1000 BC) when there was a famine, an Israelite family from Bethlehem—Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their sons Mahlon and Chilion—emigrate to the nearby country of Moab. Elimelech dies, and the sons marry two Moabite women: Mahlon marries Ruth and Chilion marries Orpah.
The two sons of Naomi then die themselves. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. She tells her daughters-in-law to return to their own mothers, and remarry. At first both refuse, but after a 2nd appeal Orpah reluctantly leaves; however, Ruth does not.
Ruth says, "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV)
The two women return to Bethlehem. It is the time of the barley harvest, and in order to support her mother-in-law and herself, Ruth goes to the fields to glean. (chapter 2) The field she goes to belongs to a man named Boaz, who is kind to her because he has heard of her loyalty to her mother-in-law. Ruth tells her mother-in-law of Boaz's kindness, and she gleans in his field through the remainder of the harvest season.
Because Boaz is a close relative of Naomi's husband's family and might be
obliged by the Levirate law to marry Mahlon's widow, Ruth. (Chapter 3) Naomi
develops a plan for Ruth to try to make that happen. Naomi sends Ruth to the
threshing floor at night and tells her to "uncover the feet" of the sleeping
Boaz. Ruth does so, Boaz awakes, and Ruth reminds him that he is "the one
with the right to redeem."
(Chapter 4) Right away, first thing the next morning, Boaz finds the other male relative and discusses Ruth before the town elders. The other male relative who is first in line is willing to marry Ruth at first. But when Boaz pointed out that in doing so he will jeopardize the inheritance of his own estate by marrying Ruth, he changes his mind and relinquishes his right of redemption, thus allowing Boaz to marry Ruth. Boaz jumps at the opportunity and declares he will do it.
Boaz and Ruth get married and have a son named Obed (who by Levirate customs is also considered a son or heir to Mahlon, and thus Naomi's grandson). In the genealogy which concludes the story, it is pointed out that Obed is the descendant of Perez the son of Judah, and the grandfather of David. (In Matthew's geneology of Jesus, Ruth is mentioned, one of only a 4 women in the list.)
These extra-ordinary characteristics of Ruth are evident:
The longtime football coach of Florida State, Bobby Bowden was on a
private plane that was bouncing all over in a bad storm. A friend on the
plane tried to console him, "God loves you, he won't let anything bad
How do you handle it when you face adversity?
On a quiet night in early spring suddenly came the sound of wild geese flying over the farmhouse. The resident of that place ran to the window to watch. What is to compare with wild geese across the moon? It might have ended there except for the sight of the tame mallards on the pond. They also heard the wild call they had once known. The honking out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into their wild yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge to fly--to take their place in the sky for which God made them--was sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never raised from the water. The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable. (Ronald Meredith, Hurryin' Big for Little Reasons via Sermons.com)
Every choice we make is like that.
Every "ordinary" person can live by faith in God.
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