“What story in the Bible would come to your mind when you think about grace?” I asked my physical therapist yesterday. She hails from abroad in childhood and is a Christian. She often gives me some little biblical comment about persevering, ie with exercises, so I was curious what would come to her mind. She thought and the story of Ruth came to her mind.
During a time of drought in Bethlehem, Naomi fled with her husband and two sons to Moab. Moab is ancient Palestine, now west-central Jordon. Moab was named after Lot’s son by his daughter after the Sodom and Gomorrah flight. Moab and Israel were not “kissing cousins” but often rivals. Naomi and family found refuge there, raised their family, and the sons married. But alas, father and two sons died, leaving Naomi and two daughter-in-laws destitute. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem that is now prospering and Ruth pleads to go with her. Ruth’s words to Naomi are often recited at weddings, “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 my God…”
Interesting. I asked my friend how that spoke to her of “grace”. She reflected, Naomi did not have to allow Ruth to go with her as returning to Bethlehem with a “foreign” woman was probably not the first choice for a re-entry strategy. Naomi including Ruth in her life story was an act of grace. Grace is receiving an undeserved gift (God’s riches) at the other’s expense (at Christ’s expense). Ruth not only went with Naomi but Naomi was the cultural broker to help Ruth fit in to her new home. Ruth is befriended by Boaz as she goes to glean in the fields to prevent starvation and Boaz marries Ruth, the foreigner – more grace. Ruth becomes the great grandmother of king David and is listed in the lineage of Jesus. GRACE.
As we reflect on our life journey, like Ruth and Naomi, there have been the ups and downs, the famines and the weddings. At the moment we may not understand the turn of events but as we look back and the pieces fall in place, many of us realize it is Grace Alone that has led us, upheld us, and comforted us on our journey. God deserves the credit. Blessings, may you see his hand of grace.