I like Ruth.
It's a book of the Bible, that up until recently, I had never read. I knew basic things about Ruth, but I didn't know her story. This past week, a friend of mine told me that a close friend (not some street psychic) had read her tarot cards and gave her some thoughts/advice on how to conduct her life. Of course, as a Christian I'm adverse to such and kind of dismissed it out of hand. However, it got me to thinking about clarity.
Any time that a person meditates, prays, goes to tarot card reader, consults a psychic, or even just reaches out to their bff for counsel, they are all seeking the same thing: clarity. We all want to know which way to go. What is the road that leads to happiness? Because that's the road that we all want to be on.
And so, I wanted to write a blog about clarity, but I couldn't think of a person in the Bible who sought clarity and found it (except for Gideon and the Fleece, but I wasn't in a Gideon kinda mood). So, I thought: let's see what Ruth has to offer.
It had to offer a lot. So much so, that I'm afraid...truly afraid to only write one blog about it. I'm re-reading chapter 1 thinking: but what's the most important piece?! Where is the clarity?!
I think it's in two scriptures...that aren't even IN Ruth, but that I feel point me to Ruth:
Scripture 1: Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27
Scripture 2: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. - Matthew 6:25, 33
In Ruth 1, we find three women at a crossroads: Ruth and Orpah, whose husbands have just died, as well as Naomi, whose husband has been dead for years. They are widows. Nowadays, it sucks to be a widow, but in biblical times the plight of the widow was often one of extreme poverty and desolation. The widow was often paired (as she is in James) with the orphan. She is someone that no one is looking out for.
|Three Women? Crossroads? I couldn't resist!|
Ruth and Orpah are still young. They can leave Naomi, and either 1) try to go back to their parents, or 2) find new husbands to take care of them (Ruth 1: 8-9). But, strangely, they want to stay with Naomi. Eventually, Naomi convinces Orpah to leave her. But not Ruth. Ruth stays with her, and delivers the touching speech that is the ONLY thing I knew about Ruth before reading it:
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried... - Ruth 1:16-17
We spend a lot of time seeking to make ourselves happy. It's not a criticism, but rather a simple statement of fact. We're all looking for that clarity on "which way do I go." Ruth had two choices, one leads to possibility and one leads to the poverty and desolation we spoke of above. Why did she choose the latter?!
I'm not super selfish, but I'm selfish! And I'm always "looking out for number one!" In this dog-eat-dog world, that's how you have to be sometimes. Or is it? I realize that this mindset is the result of worry: if I don't look out for myself, who will? if I don't do for me, who will?!
I doubt that Ruth wasn't acting on her knowledge of God, b/c she was a Moabite. She didn't know God. But God was working in her life, because the first thing she did was show her purity of heart. The pure and undefiled nature of her spirit, which was to care for someone that no one else would care for. This is the work of God's kingdom (see Matthew 25:34-40). So, in my opinion, Ruth was seeking first the kingdom of God, when she chose Naomi over the road to happiness. She took zero care for her own life, but rather esteemed someone else higher than herself (Philippians 2:3). And that mindset determined her path.
And if you know the story...you know that everything else was indeed added. The things that a widow usually worried about, she didn't have to worry about.
Maybe the things we worry about, we don't have to worry about either. Maybe the clarity is there? We're looking everywhere except to God. We're seeking everything except His kingdom. God and His kingdom are backburner items...or we treat them with complacency as something already attained. But the clarity is in doing His Will first. And then everything else will fall into place.
We don't like that kind of clarity. It's simply...not what we're looking for. Tsk. Tsk.