I am waiting. Waiting for short-term things and long-term things. Either way, the waiting seems forever. I grow tired of waiting. It is heavy at times. Yet, I try. I have lived long enough to know that if I invoked my own will and accord my future would suffer the consequences. Time goes by so quickly it seems to steal the moments. We cannot get time back. Time itself cannot be returned to us. I often tell others “your thirties are to make up for your twenties, but your forties are forever.” I don’t have time for wrong turns or U-turns. It is frivolity. However, I do have time to wait for the good things that God will provide. In this sense, I know the waiting is for God and He is leading the journey I am on. Often, I feel unsure and full of doubt. So I purpose that it is best to wonder rather than to wander.
Waiting well. If you have waited for God in your life I am sure you can recount all the moments He manifested Himself to assure you that your waiting was well. These are “God’s unmistakable traces.”
The Book of Ruth begins with the story of a family that left Bethlehem to Moab during a time of great famine. While the decision to move may have seemed right and subsequently promising, life in Moab eventually dealt a heavy blow. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were left widowed and in desperate need of care. Shattered lives and shattered dreams could not have been at the forefront of their minds. To have suffered such a loss in those times meant no chance for a life worth living much less a life at all. For women, life from a human sense could only be found through a husband. But for Naomi to have lost her sons, too, meant absolute desolation. She had nothing. Her two daughters-in-law were what was left of the family she had known and reminders of her sons. Orpah and Ruth were it. They too had to deal with the loss of their own husbands and never having had children. We don’t know why. Orpah chose to stay in Moab and leave Naomi, while the other, Ruth the Moabitess, chose to cling to her mother-in-law Naomi on the long journey home to Bethlehem. We don’t know why Orpah chose to stay. I think she has been criticized far too much. She must have felt the urge to remain and find a new life over again in Moab. Perhaps the urge was from God? It was good for her. Often we think we know what is best for others. But as has been stated before, we don’t know everything. Life is in the hands of God the Father. God’s intended purpose in this story could not have included both women, nor could it have been split between the two. He only had one in mind. It’s not necessary to be too concerned. God’s plan for Orpah was already written and I believe she was well taken care of as she remained in Moab. Why would God not have taken care of Orpah when He knew what was already predestined in their lives and had set out for there to be only one perfect kinsman-redeemer?
And so it was, Naomi and Ruth. Here were two women, side by side, committed to walk out the journey together not fully knowing or realizing what would await them in Bethlehem. How devastating to know that what was possible was seemingly impossible now. All hope was lost. Thoughts of what could be were overcome by what was. Alone they walked, together many, many miles to Bethlehem. They could have easily been in harm’s way, but they seemingly traveled unnoticed. Surprised? It was providence at work and yet another trace of God in their lives.
It was the beginning of the barley harvest and times in Bethlehem had turned for the better. Ruth, supportive of Naomi, suggested that she glean in the field hoping to gain favor so that she may return with a portion. Unbeknown to Ruth, Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, in the field where she would glean and his name was Boaz.
In Ruth chapter 2 verse 3, it states “…and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.” The words “and she happened” is interpreted in the Hebrew to mean “chance upon chance.” It was chanced. In other words, what may seem by accident was the providential, unseen hidden hand of God at work.
As only God would orchestrate, Boaz noticed Ruth in the field and she found favor in his sight. He protected her and ensured that she would glean a hefty amount of barley to take home. Interestingly, Boaz had heard of Ruth and all that she had done for her mother-in-law after the death of her husband. He knew she had left her homeland of Moab to follow Naomi to a place she didn’t know. This was an example of tremendous character on the part of Ruth. Her reputation preceded her. She didn’t have to prove herself to others or to Boaz. She didn’t even have to flaunt in front of him to get noticed. We live in a time where women will throw themselves to men as an act of desperation rather than throw themselves to the feet of the Lord God. I believe when our character has been drenched in the model of Christ that we exude Him in our countenance. Character begets character and it will get noticed by someone with character. The qualities will proceed from us toward others and it will draw those whom have it as well. Therefore, Ruth drew Boaz without trying.
Ruth was so overwhelmed by such kindness that she fell on her face before him. She knew her place and called herself a foreigner. She quite possibly knew the culture at the time and where foreigners fit, if any, into the Israelite environment, society, and community. Here Ruth was following the script. God’s script. He was opening doors for her. She was led by God. Boaz was doing God’s work too. He had the character of God, and he had godly boundaries. He could have easily taken advantage of Ruth but he did not. Rare is the man who can resist and think more of a woman than himself, his needs and desires.
“Go-el” is Hebrew for kinsman-redeemer, which was Boaz. He was one of their closest relatives. But was he the absolute closest?
In chapter 3 verse 12 Boaz admits that he is a close relative but that there is one closer than him. An admission that would take the best of men. A man that was looking after himself would try to manipulate the situation for his good. However, Boaz was a man of integrity and godliness. He offered full disclosure. Boaz was a man of strength. He was willing to let it go for the right reasons. I believe He had to show God his faithfulness. In either case, he was prepared for the consequences and knew one way or the other that he would be involved. He trusted God.
Later in chapter 4 verses 4 –6 Boaz confronts the situation and declared to the closest relative what was involved in the situation. The relative wished to redeem the land but changed his mind when it came to Ruth. He was unable to redeem because it would jeopardize his inheritance and that which he had obviously planned with heirs already. More unmistakable traces of God. Therefore, Boaz was free to pursue Ruth. Everything was right. There were no conflicts and the door was wide open for Boaz and Ruth to be together. The waiting was over. All they waited for came to pass. As God had planned Ruth became Boaz’s wife and bore him a son. Furthermore, the child would be a restorer of life to Naomi who had lost her sons and a sustainer of her old age. More importantly, it was amazing that the young woman Ruth never birthed children with her first husband Mahlon but did with Boaz. Another unmistakable trace of God. He had a greater plan for Ruth. It had to be in order to have the lineage through King David, via Ruth and Boaz. Had there been prior children, from either Boaz or Ruth, this lineage would not have been possible and far more complicated.
Ruth waited well and followed her God through and through. She trusted in the Lord and exhibited patience throughout despite the overwhelming odds of surviving desolate times. Especially when the temptation to take matters into her hands would have overcome the best of us. Throughout the story of Ruth were God’s unmistakable traces, leading, guiding, and directing providentially in such a way that enabled her to wait well. Life could not have been better planned but by the hand of God. Only by His providence could these events have been orchestrated so perfectly and in time.
The Word in Motion: An Interactive
Is there such thing as “waiting well?”
What does “waiting well” mean to you?
Have you ever waited well?
What do you do when you grow weary of waiting well?
Can you mistake waiting well for being misguided?
Photo credit by the author. Location: overlooking the bay from the Mondrian South Beach Hotel, Miami, FL
Copyright 2013 by The Word in Motion