In our study of The Friendships of Women, we have looked at Mary and Elizabeth and Ruth and Naomi extensively. Besides the elements of friendship, to me the one thing that stands out in both of their relationships is obedience.
Ruth was a daughter-in-law, and was certainly not what Naomi would have picked for a daughter-in-law. She was from Moab, a heathen nation. Naomi and her family were from Bethlehem. There had been a famine in the land and Naomi's husband had led them to Moab because of it. There her two sons married Moabite women, probably much to the great distress of Naomi. Neither of the women had children. Then Naomi's husband died, followed by the deaths of both of her sons.
Now she finds herself in a strange, heathen land...a widow....bereft of her children and with two daughters-in-law. However, in the time that she had been a mother-in-law she had come to love these women and they had come to love her so much that when Naomi decided to return home they begged to go with her. Orpah finally relented after Naomi had told her to go back 4 times and returned to her home. But Ruth clung to Naomi and refused to leave. She left everything..her home, her friends, her family, her religion.....everything to follow Naomi. She even went so far to declare her allegiance not only to Naomi but to Naomi's God.
After they arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi gives Ruth explicit instructions about gleaning in the field. Both of these women were widows in a culture where women were not revered. They did not own property or have jobs in the public sector. Ruth could have balked at Naomi's directions, not wanting to be told what to do and how to do it. She could have said "Look, you get up and do your part, too. I'm not the only one going to glean in the fields!" But she didnt do either. Instead she did exactly what Naomi said.
When Naomi told her that night to slip into Boaz's tent and after he went to sleep to lay down at his feet, she could have really drawn the line. Why, she had hardly met the man!! Can you imagine doing such a bold, aggressive thing! But again, she trusted Naomi and she obeyed. And, as a result, she married Boaz, had a son and became the grandmother of David in the direct line of Christ!!! All because she was willing to be obedient.
What stands out to me in that story is that she was so humble and trusting. We are too cynical today. We trust few people. After all, we have rights! We are taught early on to "look out for #1". Humility is not a widespread character trait. So when God speaks, it is often met with great arguments and doubt. "Surely you don't REALLY expect me to do that?!" What would people think?! What would they say? Maybe it's time we shut out the voices of the world, tuned out ears to hear God's small voice and like Samuel said "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!" Then when we hear a word of direction....no matter how difficult or absurd it may sound, obey with all of our heart. It might mean letting go of MY PLANS for MY FUTURE and embracing HIS PLANS instead! After all, have you ever said "YES" to God and been disappointed? "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
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