Tuesday, January 18, 2022

          Ruth is a small book in the Old Testament named for the book’s leading and primary character.  We can say two things about Ruth for certain.  First, she knew the experience of sadness and loss.  Her husband died and apparently at a relatively young age.  In those days, the life of a widow was marked by hardship and pain.  Nothing would have been easy economically, culturally or practically.  Second, she modeled commitment and devotion.  When her mother-in-law, Naomi, encouraged her to return to her people, she refused.  She stayed with Naomi.   
            Ruth decisively chose to stay with Naomi, no matter the cost.  Ruth’s response was one that we often find in wedding services even today.  She said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.  Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.  Where you die, I will die and there will I be buried” (Ruth 1:16-17).  We read words of commitment, devotion and dedication.  Ruth expressed those values toward Naomi and lived out those words.  And she lived that way with no guarantees or certainties about the future or the outcome of her vow.  She had no look into the future to see how things would go.
            If we look at Ruth’s words carefully, we find a glimpse of what it is like to be in relationship with the Lord.  B.B. McKinney wrote some words of faith that Christians still sing today, “Wherever He leads, I'll go. Wherever He leads, I'll go. I'll follow my Christ who loves me so. Wherever He leads, I'll go.”  Now that is faith—to go wherever God may lead you and to remain wherever God takes you.  We know from the end of the story that Ruth did remarry.  She married a man named Boaz and became part of the ancestral line that produced David and later Jesus. 
            Yet, when Ruth spoke her words of commitment, she had no way of seeing how God would honor her commitment and faith.  Faith can often be a matter of not knowing for certain how things may turn out but trusting that God will always do what is right and good.  Life offers few guaranteed outcomes.  Past performances do not always guarantee future results.  Ruth simply acted in faith in the moment at hand.  And that is often how God calls us.  Trust Him in the moment with the circumstances at hand.  If we always knew the end result, then we would not be acting in faith. 
            Ruth also teaches us that God often acts in the present for future events that we may never live to see.  She would not live to see David or Jesus be born.  Yet, God worked in and through her obedience.  Have you ever stopped to consider that your obedience today could profoundly change your family tree in an amazing way?  An act of faith in January of 2022 could change the course of your great-great-grandchildren a hundred years from now.  Obedience rarely happens in a vacuum.  Rather, obedience pays dividends and blesses us—sometimes now and sometimes down the road at a time we cannot yet see. 
            Remember, Ruth was challenged and disadvantaged in a host of ways.  But she remained loyal to Naomi and faithful to her word.  She was an outsider ethnically and religiously.  But she proved to everyone, in her day and ours that real faith is never contingent upon the easy nature of circumstances.  Her life story shows us how God works through those who trust Him to bless individuals, families, communities and even the world itself.  Her acts of faith would forever be associated with the coming of Jesus.  And whenever we dare to trace our Lord’s family tree, there is the name of Ruth for all to see.  Whatever your past may be, remember it is not your present or your future.  You can overcome your past to write a new present or future for your life’s story.  No matter what you may have gone through in past times, God is not done with you today or tomorrow.  He does not hold your past against you when you have sought His forgiveness and grace. He still has a plan for you.  So, as a follower of Christ, do not look to your past or let yourself be taken captive by it.  Rather, look to your future and trust that He has a plan for you.  Have a great Tuesday!

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