RUTH: WEEK SEVENTEEN
The Proposal (Part Two)
(Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)
The Verse of the Week
“…I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU.” John 14v2a NASB
More Words from the Father
From my Heart
How to Create a Haven (Part One)
Every woman longs for a home. Not just a house filled with lovely things, but a home to run into and be safe. An abode where love spills on to everyone who enters there. A dwelling overflowing with comfort. A nest which pulls people in by its peace.
Naomi dreams of this for Ruth. She wants to see her daughter blossom in a place where she is valued. Her hopes for Ruth have risen from a heart which finally sees her for the jewel she is. It is this very desire which propels Naomi to urge Ruth to throw out convention and risk rejection in order to go after what they both need.
What about you? Are you willing to make yourself uncomfortable, to put your grand sense of self aside in order to create the kind of home you long for - the kind of home God longs for you to build?
I have to ask myself the same question. You see, all my life I’ve been called a dreamer. As I leaned on my window sill overlooking the rooftops of the town in which I grew up in Europe, I weaved lovely stories of life as it ought to be - a handsome prince, a house full of children who talked just like my Chatty Cathy, and me, pampered and petted and adored.
Reality painted a different picture. My handsome prince had to go to work, my children argued, whined, and complained (sounding an awful lot like me!) and moments of pampering got lost somewhere between loads of laundry
Are you disappointed that your home isn’t what you wish it were? Do you gaze around and wonder what happened? Do you look at your kids or your roommate and feel your heart sink in discouragement?
Here’s what I have discovered along this adventure of listening and learning from God’s Word for the last three decades: the kind of haven I envision for myself doesn’t just happen,
it is built on purpose.
This third chapter of Ruth provides for us a picture of what our homes can be. Here, the Father gives us a glimpse of home as He intended it to look and feel and smell. Whether your home is an apartment or a mansion, a cottage or a cot in the corner, it can be a place of refuge for all who enter its doors.
Let’s take a look at what Ruth and Boaz, with a little nudging from Naomi, created in the beginnings of their home.
A place of beauty.
From the beginning, God created man and woman for a beautiful place. The Garden was a reflection of His creativity and care - His welcome of us. It was there that He placed in our hearts an instinctive embracing of beauty which has never gone away. Naomi knew this. She helped Ruth to bathe and slather on perfume and to put on her finest clothes, not to impress Boaz, but to welcome him.
It takes time to create beauty. It takes effort. It takes forethought and planning. Yet when our home looks and feels and smells beautiful, we can’t help but sigh a great sigh of relief and rest there.
A soft place.
“Then she came softly…” I love that phrase. Here we get a glimpse of Ruth’s unique imprint on the scene…her signature style. As we go about building our home we add our uniquely gentle touch. By our own example as well as by our watchful enforcement (think hall monitor with a smile), we can create and defend an aura of gentleness within our relationships. We can insulate our homes from the harshness of the outside world - a world where horns blare, bloggers decimate strangers, teachers belittle teenagers, and peers point out every misstep. Our home ought to offer relief from all that in-your-face sort of confrontation.
And mothers, take note. If you follow the current strategies in child-raising by allowing your children to “work it out for themselves,” you will be an unwitting participant in what often amounts to sibling brutality. We have all seen it happen. Voices escalate, words proliferate, and the strongest, ugliest, meanest man wins. Training our children to control their feelings, reign in their tongues, and learn to communicate in loving, direct dialogue takes a lot of work. It requires constant vigilance and incredible wisdom as well. We know who to go to for that, though, don’t we?
A delightful place.
Ruth gave Boaz the surprise of his life when he woke up in the middle of the night to find her curled at his feet. Heart thumping, adrenalin surging, Boaz sat up with a start. His response to Ruth’s overtures bubbled up and spilled over her in the form of an outpouring of praise. He couldn’t say enough about her kindness to him in that moment. What about you? Do you often bring exclamations of delight from those who reside in your home? Are you filling your family and friends with memories of delightful surprises - those extra touches that speak volumes to whom they are directed? When I got the rare chance to visit my parents in their home in the mountains all by myself, my mom delighted me each night by slipping into my room, turning on the electric blanket, and folding back the bedding. That small gesture practically shouted love and care to me.
What would bring delight to those you love the most? Perhaps it’s time to give it some thought.
A place of discovery.
Every once in a great while there comes into our lives someone who “gets” us. They find us fascinating instead of weird. They shine a flashlight into the corners of our personalities to discover strengths we didn’t know we had. When we find such a treasure in a friend, we find ourselves feeling freer than we’ve ever felt before. Those of us who are kind of quiet begin to talk. Talkative people rest. Walls fall down and our hopes and dreams seem doable.
Boaz listened to Ruth. He asked questions instead of firing accusations. He waited to interpret her behavior through the grid of respect and what he discovered was a gold mine. How can we unleash that sense of discovery in our own homes? Could we, like Boaz, learn to believe the best of those we love? Dare we ban that attitude of distrust we find ourselves so naturally reverting to? What if we choose instead to highlight each other’s value and overlook each other’s flaws? I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of heart I want to come home to.
Whether your home is a suburban house with a husband, children, and a menagerie of pets or an apartment with three roommates, are you making it a place of rest and refuge? Is it time that you, like Naomi, threw off that passive complacency and poured yourself into creating a home for those you are called to love?
Somehow, I think, this longing in our hearts for home may be part of the Father’s plan. He wants to use us to create an alluring glimpse of God’s dwelling place. And that just makes me want to jump in and get to work!
To be continued tomorrow…from my heart,
How Big is a Scoop?
A pinch of salt, a dash of nutmeg, a dot of butter. We can imitate these in our kitchens. But an ephah of barley? Six measures of grain? Is that a lot or a little? A token or a treasure?
According to historians, an ephah of barley was an enormous amount of grain. It would have weighed between 30 and 50 pounds by today’s measurements. Considering that an average bag of whole wheat flour which we buy at the grocery store weighs about five pounds, Ruth gleaned a lot of grain! In one day, she gathered the equivalent of a month’s ration of grain for the average male worker in Israel.
A measure is uncertain terminology and, in fact, is not specified in the text. Translators filled in the blank with a vague term in order to keep the sentence coherent. He measured six somethings of barley into her upheld cloak. It could have been six shovelfuls or even six omers, which would have equaled about half of what she’d carried home from the fields. Whatever it was, it was more than enough to convince Naomi that Boaz’ intentions were serious. Their days of hunger were over.
What in the world was Ruth up to when she snuck up to the place where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet, and lay down? Was this some sort of sexual seduction? Not at all! Ruth was using a common idiom for a proposal of marriage. The phrase “corner of your garment” is kanap. It is a word which can be applied either to the edge of his covering or as coming under his wings for protection. It is the same word Boaz used in Ruth 2v12 when he admired Ruth for seeking security in God.
Ruth may have been bold, but she was not in any way suggesting something shocking. Boaz response to her proposal was immediately enthusiastic, for he knew exactly what she meant. He had given her plenty of reason to believe that he held a strong affection for her. She was simply encouraging him to pursue his interest. Still, he knew that others could possibly perceive her presence at the threshing floor late at night as inappropriate, so Boaz took steps to protect both her purity and her reputation.
Note: for a really interesting rabbit trail, read what Jesus had to say about measurements in Luke 6v30-38.