Jennifer and I have been thinking a lot lately of Ruth and Naomi’s story. I think we all love the idea of a Kinsman Redeemer providing for and rescuing Ruth. Isn’t that what we all long for? To be rescued? But this morning I was thinking about what happened in the story before she was rescued.
Ruth lost everything. She was childless. Her husband was dead. There was a famine. I think that qualifies as a pretty bad day. Instead of being taken care of it was now her responsibility to take care of herself and others. And she did.
She left her home, her family and everything she knew. She traveled to a land she had never seen and lived with a people she had never met. And she got a job. A hard job, working in the field all day from sunup ‘till sundown gleaning.
Glean- to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit;
to gather (grain and the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers;
to learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly
Ruth lost everything and then spent hours harvesting other’s leftovers just so she and Naomi could eat.
And sometimes I feel like that’s all I do to. That I work so hard only to reap leftovers. I don’t want to glean. It’s hot and tiring and feels like you’re getting nowhere. I want to skip ahead to the back of the book where Ruth is rescued by the rich land owner and never has calloused hands again.
When the time comes for Boaz to redeem Ruth he says to her: “all of my people in the city know that you are a woman of noble character” (Ruth 3:11).
It’s the hard work, the leftovers, the gleaning that produces and reveals a person’s character. It is in the fire that we are purified and strengthened. Seasons of gleaning, seasons of fire aren’t sent to destroy us, they are sent to purify us, to strengthen us, to prepare us.
Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer. He is the one who watches over us as we glean the fields. He is the one who will come and rescue us one day and bring us into His home where we will never know sorrow or fatigue or pain again. We want to skip ahead to that. We’re conditioned to expect the knight on the white horse to show up an hour and forty five minutes into the story. But life isn’t a Hollywood movie. And sometimes seasons of working the field last longer than we would like them to.
In seasons of gleaning we need to remember that even here in this hard place we are still protected by our Redeemer. Boaz told Ruth to stay in his field where she would be protected. He told his harvesters to let her glean, and to leave extra for her to harvest. I don’t know why Boaz didn’t just rescue her the first day she showed up hungry and desperate. I don’t know why she had to continue working the field when the landowner was well able to supply all of her needs. I don’t know why Ruth’s season of leftovers lasted more than one day. But it did.
I do know that Ruth was faithful. She was faithful to show up every day and gather whatever was left behind for her. She was faithful to follow Boaz’s instructions. She was faithful to honor her mother in law. She was faithful to show forth godly character in the midst of some pretty hard circumstances.
I want to be more like Ruth. Not stuck in a season of gleaning. But faithful and loyal and sweet regardless of my season. I want to be thankful for whatever my provision is; whether it’s a handful of grain or more than I can carry. I want to be diligent to the work that lies before me no matter how hard the sun beats down upon my shoulders.
And I want to be steadfast in hope. Hope of a Redeemer. Hope of one day being His bride. Hope of a future life that will make all of this worth it. Because it is!