Noami, Elimelek, Mahlon, and Kilion were a family that fled a famine in Judah for food in Moab. Elimelek, the husband and father, died shortly after arrival. What a loss! The others soldiered on and Mahlon and Kilion married Moabite women named Orpah and Ruth. It’s a new chapter! But it’s cut short. Mahlon and Kilion die as well. How tragic!
Next chapter, Naomi hears that God provided food for the people of Judah again and sets off to return home, with her daughters-in-law. On the way, Naomi realizes it would be better for Orpah and Ruth to stay right where they were with their families of origin. She stops and tells them to return to their father's homes. She blesses them that they might be granted new husbands by the LORD. The women cry in each other’s arms and the daughters say they will go with Naomi anyway. Naomi tells them it’s better for them to go home because she has nothing for them. She can’t provide the husbands they needed. More loud crying. Orpah kisses Naomi goodbye but Ruth won’t leave her. She clings to Naomi. She promises to go where Naomi goes, to stay where she stays, to have the same people, and the same God, to die where she dies and be buried there too. Not even death could separate Ruth from Naomi. What could Naomi do but allow Ruth to come along.
The two women arrived in Bethlehem when it was time for the barley harvest and Ruth suggested that she go to the fields to pick up whatever grain was left behind by the harvesters so they could find sustenance. Naomi encouraged her to go. Ruth ended up in a field that was owned by Boaz, one of Elimelek’s relatives. Boaz quickly noticed Ruth and asked about her. He found out she came from Moab with Naomi. Boaz welcomed her, provided a meal for her, let her glean and take all she wanted, and promised protection. He appreciated the story that preceded Ruth. Her reputation of faithfulness to her mother-in-law moved Boaz.
When Ruth brought her 30-pound bag home and shared the good news with Naomi, Naomi praised God for His providence and encouraged Ruth to stay close to Boaz. One day she realized that she may be able to provide a husband for Ruth after all by advising her on how to interact with Boaz. This is where the story definitely gets a little different. Read Ruth chapter 3 to see the details but after one interesting night at the threshing floor, Boaz is ready to marry Ruth! Before the next day ends it’s all arranged!
What I found interesting about this story that I had never noticed before is the fact that Naomi had a lot more to offer Ruth than would have been expected. If Naomi didn’t know the culture of Judah and give all the instructions she gave in chapter 3, Ruth wouldn’t have gotten to marry the heroic Boaz and become the great grandmother of king David! Because of Naomi, Ruth will never be forgotten. Because of Ruth, Naomi will never be forgotten either.
Sometimes we don’t think we have much to offer. We could be mourning loss. We could lack confidence in our abilities. We may think we’re too inexperienced or too tired. We may feel too out of touch and need more knowledge or training. We may feel so overwhelmed with our own lives that we don’t think we can help anyone else but I would argue that you have more to offer than you think you do.
Naomi simply knew her culture and helped Ruth to know how to navigate it and it made a world of difference. The young people in your life would benefit from your wisdom to navigate adulting. The young people can provide reverse mentoring for you to help you understand them and their friends who have grown up immersed in a different world than you, a digital one. But these kinds of things can only happen if we are committed to one another. Let’s create some unlikely dynamic duos and connections that will not only provide for one another’s substance but will usher us into joy, praise to God, and make us into history makers in His kingdom.
Who can you connect with today? May God give you the courage to take that step. - Pastor Nick