“As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” (Ruth 2:15-16 NIV)
This week has been one of unexpected blessings. On Monday, my son Chris came home with freshly picked corn from the farm where he works. Not only was the corn freshly picked, but it had already been shucked and washed. If all you have ever eaten is store bought corn, you have certainly missed one of God’s sweetest blessings.
On Tuesday, while we studied verses 8-15 in the book of Ruth, one of our church workers presented us with flowers. They were not just flowers, but beautiful roses in a variety of colors. Mine were a beautiful deep red hue. The unexpected blessing produced smiles all around our study table.
It occurred to me then that the attention of Boaz toward Ruth was like receiving roses unexpectedly or even fresh, sweet corn, shucked and washed, and ready to be cooked. Part of the joy of receiving such a gift is that you have done nothing to deserve it.
Boaz was a prominent man, wealthy and esteemed in his community. Ruth’s position was lower even than that of a maidservant. She was a foreigner and a beggar asking for leftovers. Nevertheless, Boaz notices her (Ruth 2:5), speaks to her (Ruth 2:8), and acknowledges her diligence and her kindness toward Naomi, her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:11). She is to glean exclusively in Boaz’s field Ruth 2:8). Not only is she noticed and praised for her deeds, but she is invited to drink water drawn by others of a higher position than she (Ruth 2:9). Overwhelmed, Ruth falls at her benefactor’s feet and asks: “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.” (Ruth 2:10 NLT)
For Ruth, being noticed, praised, and invited to drink water and being allowed to glean in Boaz’s fields would have been enough. But this is just the beginning of God’s plan for Ruth. The harvest season is just beginning. Next, Boaz invites Ruth to eat roasted grain (Ruth 2:14) and arranges for the workers to let some grain fall from their bundles so that she can pick them up (Ruth 2:16).
Even before Boaz became Ruth’s “official kinsman redeemer”, he began to pour out his kindness upon her. This reminds me that God does the same for us. Even before we are saved, God provides for us. He has a plan to draw us to himself and continue to bless us throughout our lives. When we choose to glean exclusively in the fields of the Lord, He will invite us to drink the Living Water and eat the Bread of Life, and like the sheaves of barley in the story of Ruth, He will make sure that we find unexpected blessings along the way.
After the corn and the flowers, we got grapes, cantaloupe, Vidalia onions, Clementines, cucumbers… and summer has only just begun.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
In summertime and harvest we are reminded of the abundant life you have promised. As if the fruits of the land were not enough, you have stored up treasures for us in heaven, How great is your faithfulness! Your loving-kindness is humbling. What have I done to deserve such abundance? Nothing, but Jesus has done it all.
In the name of the only one that is mighty to save,