“Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.” (Ruth 2:20 NKJV)
In 1966 my brother dropped out of college to join the Navy. He feared he would be drafted, and by enlisting in the Navy, he thought he was taking control of his future. He arrived at Great Lakes Training Center in the middle of winter. Almost immediately, swimming lessons began. Later on, my brother referred to his instructor’s teaching method as the “sink or swim” method. He claims that on the very first day, he and the other recruits were literally pushed into the pool. Experienced swimmers and life preservers were at the ready in case a man floundered, but my brother did not know this at the time. Therefore, the experience was terrifying.
Elimelech and Naomi thought that by going to Moab during a famine, they would be more likely to control their future. They were wrong. In Moab, Naomi loses her husband and her sons and has to return to Bethlehem as a widow.
Sometimes in life, we feel like we have been pushed into a pool full of water before having learned how to swim. Though we know God is there, we wonder how, when, or through whom our help will come. Naomi was aware of God. She knew He was responsible for putting an end to the famine. (Ruth 1:6) She asked the Lord to bless her daughters-in-law. (Ruth 1:8-9) From Naomi and her family Ruth learned about God, which is evident in the commitment Ruth makes, not only to Naomi, but to Naomi’s God: “Your people will be my people and your God my God.”(Ruth 1:16 NIV) This commitment would not have come about if Naomi had not been a believer, albeit a very confused one in her time of sorrow.
I never noticed it in previous readings, but it was Ruth, and not Naomi, who took the initiative to provide for herself and Naomi. After they arrived in Bethlehem, she volunteered to glean in the fields: “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” (Ruth 2:2 NIV) This is how she met Boaz, her kinsman redeemer, who offers her his protection and later pledges to marry her.
Naomi returns from Moab in mourning. She flounders as helplessly as someone who does not know how to swim. Like a life guard at a pool, Ruth reaches out to Naomi and clings to her. In Bethlehem, Ruth brings Naomi new hope and a grandson. God fulfills his plans for Naomi through Ruth, and through Naomi and Ruth He fulfills His plan for us all. Through Ruth and her grandson, David, Jesus Christ is sent, to be our Lord and Redeemer, our Savior and the Bridegroom of His Church.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
There is nothing in our lives that you cannot use for your glory. You can use our pain, our suffering and our disappointments to accomplish your purposes. You can even use us to rescue those who are thrust into turbulent waters. We give you permission to use us, Lord. We volunteer to reach out to those who need love, patience, hope and encouragement, because you first loved and reached out to us in our time of need.
In the name of Jesus, LORD and Redeemer,