Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Reflection on the book of Ruth

I just finished rereading one of my favorite stories in the Bible: the book of Ruth. There's some nostalgia in this appreciation, as this was one of many Bible stories that my dad used to tell me before I could even read. However, beyond the "natsukashi factor", it's a simple, but powerful story of redemption, and one that so strongly points ahead to God's ultimate plans in Christ.

In the story of Ruth, there are several characters who go above and beyond the call of duty--namely, Ruth and Boaz. Ruth is not bound to go with Naomi after her husband (Naomi's son) dies, and in fact, Naomi expected her to stay behind. Yet, Ruth follows Naomi, saying, "Don't urge me to leave you or 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." (Ruth 1:16)

Later, Boaz finds himself in a similar situation as he approaches the kinsman-redeemer, Naomi's closest living relative, about claiming the property of Naomi's deceased son. The kinsman-redeemer agrees, until he finds out that Ruth is part of the package. Not eager to bring about added complications to his family's inheritance (since the firstborn offspring with Ruth would carry her first husband's name to keep it alive), the relative declines the opportunity. So, Boaz goes above and beyond, taking Ruth as his wife without any care for the potential ramifications on family inheritance.

Who would I be in this story? I'd like to say that I'd be like Ruth and Boaz, that I would do more than what was expected of me to show love and faithfulness to others. However, I find that most of the time, I am more like Orpah (Naomi's other daughter-in-law) or the first kinsman-redeemer. These were not bad people--they simply kept their eyes on the ground in front of them and did not wish to worry about anything beyond that. Their actions serve as a foil for Ruth and Boaz' actions to make them seem all the more extraordinary: Here's what normal people would do, and here's what righteous people would do.

I pray that I can be endlessly faithful and loving, even when it is inconvenient to do so. I pray that I can broaden my perspective from what's right in front of me to what is happening around me, and that I can take action.


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