This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
Jeff and I were attending a wedding where the reception was being held in a beautiful ballroom. As is the custom after the meal the bride and groom took to the dance floor to share their first dance as husband and wife. The guests were invited to form a circle around and on a whim I grabbed my camera and brought it to the dance floor. I watched the wedding photographer find a low spot with a nice angle and snapped a quick picture of the scene. It was easy to see all the love surrounding the couple on their special day.
It could be argued that the Book of Ruth is one of the Bible’s grandest love stories. Ruth’s love is shown in her willingness to follow Naomi back to Bethlehem. It would have been acceptable for her to do as Orpah did and return to her family. In spite of the fact that she will be considered an outsider in Bethlehem Ruth chooses to accompany Naomi. This was a monumental sacrifice. Staying with her family offered Ruth some security. Naomi could guarantee none of that. But in what are probably some of the most beautiful words of love in the Bible Ruth declares her intent to stay with Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17). That sacrificial love leads her to gleaning in a field where she catches the attention of Boaz. Ruth’s sacrificial devotion is rewarded with the same kind of love from Boaz who seeks to marry Ruth after settling a debt issue with the relative who has “first rights” to Elimelech’s land (Lev. 25: 25, 48-49). In a sense Boaz sacrifices himself for Ruth in that a son from their union will carry on Elimelech’s name and not his own.
I believe that Ruth, Boaz and Naomi were real people in a real place at a real time. This story is not just some fairy tale like Cinderella or Snow White. It really happened. I also believe that the story of Ruth is a “type”, in essence a Biblical story that mirrors a spiritual truth and foreshadows something even greater. In this way the real people symbolize a character or attribute of God Himself or humanity or both. Ruth and Boaz both demonstrate the character and attributes of God in the way that they demonstrate self-sacrificing love. Ruth pledges herself to Naomi and claims her people and her God to be the same as Naomi’s. What better picture of Christ than this? John 1:14 says The Word, that is Christ, became flesh and dwelled with us. He became one of His people so that we could be His people (John 1:9-13). Boaz also demonstrated the self-sacrificing love of Christ by giving himself and his resources to her in marriage. Philippians 2: 5-11 tells us that Christ took on the form of humanity, forsaking His glory in order to be counted as one of us. He didn’t have to do that. Jesus could have refused to go to the Cross but for the love of us, He gave up His life so that we might live (Jn. 10:11-15; 15:12-13; 1 Jn. 3:16).
But what about Naomi? Who does she represent in this story? I believe she is a picture of you and me. We often base our general feelings about life on what we see just as Naomi did. And we are no different in only seeing what we lack or seeking solutions from our own experience rather than trusting in God. Like Naomi we are prone to not seeing God at work in our circumstances. She never saw His guidance and protection which also used the conventions of the day to bring her and Ruth in contact with Boaz. She didn’t see any of that until she held that grandchild in her arms. Then she saw what the Lord had been doing all along. How often do we do the same? We are so focused on what we do have or what we don’t have that we fail to recognize the all-encompassing love of God (Jn. 3:16-17).
I have heard many stories over the years of couples who knew from the first glance that they had found “the one” they would marry. That was not necessarily the case for Jeff and I but I do remember once during our friendship in high school thinking, “I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life with him”. There was a lot of time that passed between that fleeting thought and the reality of our wedding day but it’s as close to “love at first sight” that I can get in my own love story. The Bible tells me there is an even greater love story that has taken place between God and His creation and the central figure is Christ. When Christ saw you and I it was love at first sight and He went to great lengths to make sure we’d be together forever (Eph. 5:1-2; 1 Thes. 4:16-17).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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