Rise Up Like Ruth
“And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.’ Naomi said to her, ‘Go ahead, my daughter.’” –Ruth 2:2
The book of Ruth is one of the most beautiful in the Bible because it resembles childhood stories that end with happy endings. As a child, I read this book very often. Ruth’s story begins with the death of a husband. The Bible tells us that Naomi, her husband, and her sons and daughters-in-law lived in Moab. Naomi becomes a widow, and as the years go by, her two children also die. One of her daughters-in-law, Orpha, returned to her own relatives while Ruth stayed by Naomi’s side, determined to be with her.
Facing the loss of her husband and children and falling into poverty made Naomi become a frustrated and bitter woman. However, Ruth, living through the same sad and difficult circumstances as her mother-in-law, did not show a poor character. During her precarious circumstances, Ruth’s beautiful qualities were exposed. Through this book, we can appreciate Ruth for how hardworking, loving, kind, faithful, and courageous she was—like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.
Naomi and Ruth left for Bethlehem. Both were widows, poor, without family, and with nothing to favor them. They settled near land belonging to a distant relative, and it is on this land that Ruth goes out to gather grain, according to the Mosaic law. This was God’s method of supplying the needs of the poor and needy. That was the welfare system at that time. Farmers were not to harvest their fields completely so that the poor and needy could pick up the leftover spikes. Thus, their needs were supplied.
They had to go out to the fields to work, and Ruth did it out of love and fidelity to Naomi. Poverty made Ruth act. God’s providence led her to a very fertile and valuable field. When Ruth went to the fields, God supplied her needs. If you are waiting for God to be your Provider, consider that He is probably waiting for you to take the first step to show you how great your need is and how much you need to depend on Him. God uses the bad moments in our lives to guide us to places of blessing.
So, if you find yourself stuck spiritually, emotionally, physically, or financially, do like Ruth—rise up and do your part. Be brave, take the first step, take the initiative. God will do the rest. You will be surprised what God will do. This story has a happy ending. But you know what? Since you were born, God already has your story written, and it also has a happy ending. Give yourself the opportunity to live the life that our Lord has for you! RISE UP!
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” –Isaiah 43: 19
A Deeper Belonging
It was May 2014 when I declared emphatically to my sister, “I am done.” I had lived in the land of women’s ministry, a foreign land, for six years and was ready to return to where I had the deepest sense of belonging—children’s ministry. I had been dutiful and obedient in this new land, but I was disillusioned and tired. I was ready to cross the finish line and resume my familiar, preferred life of ministry.
Today, I am happy to report that God had a better plan. I did not leave the land of women’s ministry. I stayed and experienced the joy of a deeper belonging because of a gracious invitation.
In the narrative of Ruth, I find parallels to my own experience. I found myself a stranger in a foreign land, knowing I had journeyed there to draw near to God. My love for God was strong, but my sense of belonging with those around me lacked integrity. Ruth was not automatically accepted by the women of Bethlehem; yes, they were all women, but Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess. I was graciously accepted by the women I now led in my role as national director of Alliance Women, but in my own heart, I kept a distinction between us. I desired to be a woman in ministry but not in ministry to women!
We can be on the same team, occupy the same space, and still experience a disconnect from one another. We need someone greater than ourselves to declare that we all belong. In Ruth’s experience, it was Boaz declaring, “Stay here” (Ruth 2:8). In my story, it was Jesus Himself saying, “Stay here” at the Alliance Women table; “You may not feel it yet, but I know that you belong here.”
As I obeyed and stayed, I experienced an inner transformation that can only be explained by the faithful work of God. I did not ask for it because I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but I found my capacity to love women increasing. As my love grew, my sense of belonging grew as well. Those who once seemed foreign became “my people.” I know how stubborn and willful I am, so this deeper belonging must be credited to God alone.
Now, as I prepare to conclude my tenure as national director, I declare with deep gratitude, “I am not done; I will stay.” Yes, I will step away from a title and a team, but my availability to women will remain. I will stay in this once foreign land and live day by day, keeping in step with the Spirit. Where will the next chapter of my story lead me? Only God knows.
But this one thing I know: I belong.
May it be so for you as well.