Mud Pies

Ruth 3:4 “He will tell you what to do” (NIV).

Observation: Ruth told Naomi, her widowed mother-in-law, that Boaz had been extraordinarily kind to them. Ruth gleaned Boaz’s fields after harvesters had done their work, and Boaz had gone out of his way to be both generous and protective toward the two women. As Ruth tells her mother-in-law about the day’s events and reveals Boaz’s name, Naomi responds with excitement; she knew Boaz to be her late husband’s near relative, which would give him legal right to redeem the family estate. She also knew him to be an honorable man, and confidently told Ruth to go to the threshing floor at night and, as Boaz slept, to uncover his feet after which “he will tell you what to do.”

Application: Ruth’s obedience is admirable; in lying uninvited near Boaz, she risked her reputation and her very life. Perhaps even more striking than Ruth’s obedience, however, is Naomi’s confident faith. Naomi understood the rules of Hebrew law; she knew that based upon his being a near relative, Boaz was positionally able to redeem the family assets, but she had no guarantee that he would do the right thing. Apparently, her instructions to Ruth flowed from a reservoir of deep and abiding faith that Boaz would respond well. Naomi, the widow; Naomi, whose only sons were dead; Naomi who had been left without inheritance or any means of support in the alien land of Moab—it is out of this same Naomi that flowed such words of faith and trust. “He will tell you what to do,” she had said.

I must ask myself: when everything I value has been lost, what then is my attitude? When loved ones die or I am abandoned without resources in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place, what is it, exactly, that flows from me? When everything I value has cratered, when every support system I have relied upon has collapsed, what then will be revealed of my heart?

Those who know they truly have nothing will more readily rely upon the one who is their all-in-all. C. S. Lewis got it exactly right when he wrote in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, “If we consider the unblushing promise of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambitions when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” Naomi, it seems, knew the truth of this. How well do I?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have come as my kinsman-redeemer and in doing so have set before me all the riches of Your creation. Forgive me, Lord, for so easily settling for so much less than Your fulness.

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