Most of us have read the endearing and romantic story found in the Book of Ruth. Enveloped within these four chapters is the foreshadowing of redemption and the lineage from which this redemption would flow. Let’s take a look at the unconditional devotion of Ruth towards her mother-in-law, Naomi. One, in my opinion, that surpasses any modern day expression of a most unique in-law relationship
In just the first chapter of the Book of Ruth, we have Naomi telling Ruth to go start life over — find a new husband — begin again. Do you think that maybe this is an indication that Ruth was ‘fatigued’ from the grief of not only losing her own husband, but living days of grief alongside of Naomi who herself has also lost her husband (Elimelech)?
May the LORD enable each of you to find rest in the home of your new husband.” Ruth 1:9
When Naomi encourages Ruth to ‘find rest,’ I hear in her voice a possible wavering, even maybe a torn mother who is deeply saddened by an impending separation with those whom she has grown to know and love so well. It’s possible that Naomi observed Ruth’s devotion to her and decided that such a young woman should not be spending her youth toiling to keep Naomi company.
Clearly, Naomi has experienced time with Ruth and watched how she loved deeply. In her heart of hearts, Naomi reached down to find the courage and strength to set her devoted daughter-in-law free and to begin to live again. She was compelled to break the ties of the marital bond that held them together in Ruth’s best interest.
Ruth being herself and thoroughly impressed by the GOD that Naomi had introduced her to, could not bear to be severed from such a woman. It was more than obvious in her determination that Ruth had found ‘something’ worth living for within the relationship Naomi had with her GOD. Casting her own welfare to the wind, she clung tighter to Naomi.
How many of us would have told someone who loves so deep and wide to leave us? Would we not be inclined to beg them to never leave our side?
Naomi had left her fingerprints on Ruth’s heart.
Are we challenged by Naomi to set free what seems so secure — the relationship of our children — that world of ours that we’ve worked so hard to build?
I will do everything you say,” Ruth answered. Ruth 3:5
When we are willing to allow GOD to direct our parenting ways for the good of the very ones we seek to benefit, to invite Him into our decisions about these precious ones He gave us for this season, sometimes we are pleasantly surprised at the results.
Sadly, not all of us had a Naomi looking out for our best interests. By the scars on our hearts, bruises on our knees and in the scabs on the palms of our hands, we could have been spared some deep disappointments and emotional damage. Maybe the fragments of our hearts are still kept in a secret place, awaiting a Naomi of our own to help us rebuild and begin again. But we can be a type of Naomi for those in our care.
There are opportunities for us to connect and reach into the lives of those who are wandering through their journey to adulthood. And in some cases, adults tripping and stumbling through their journey into parenthood.
In a world where people are either too eager to force their opinions upon you or so standoffish that they are reluctant to get involved when they see a crime in action — it’s okay to leave your fingerprints behind on a heart that yearns for direction and some compassion.
Are we modeling that maternal figure that radiates with love, compassion, warmth, sincerity — embracing those whom we see floundering to find their solid ground? Much less, their own Boaz?
The love of GOD in us empowers us to do the never-done-before things of our everyday lives. If we make ourselves available, the most extraordinary Works of GOD have the potential to flow through us. Including maternal guidance.
In sharing with women young and not as young, GOD never fails to allow me the blessed opportunity to see their eyes light up when someone takes the time to sit with them and talk about relationships and motherhood. It’s in the listening that the miracle happens — for me! To hear what causes their heart to skip a beat, or to come alongside of them and help them strengthen their grip on their faith — sometimes it’s the expression of their lack of faith but they’ve not had anyone with whom they could ‘deposit’ or entrust those treasured thoughts.
From personal experience, I can echo the words of Ruth:
But Ruth said, “Do not plead with me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16 New American Standard Bible
I have someone in my life that devoted herself to showing me her GOD. She taught me from a very early age to honor Him and to stay close to Him through prayer. As if somehow she knew that I would experience hardship and difficulties in life — she continued to inspire me to stay with Him. She modeled that compassionate and disciplined life. And when her own husband’s health started to wane and weaken, I watched as she remained steadfast in her faith to carry her through.
I committed to being there for her — during those tumultuous days that followed his passing. The ache in her heart seemed to take such a long time to mend and heal. But she never doubted her GOD. She continued to encourage me in my own journey through motherhood — always just a phone call away with advice ready for the asking.
And while her memory now strains to recall some of the most recent of times, she still smiles when we make that eye contact. This present season of touch-less and hug-less engagement makes for creative connection. I’m confident that in the perfect Paradise we will all laugh about it and chuckle about how short the time really was.
I’ve called her ‘mama’ while she was not my biological mother — from the young age of six months old. And those who know me, know why. She always will be.
She invited me into her home of three daughters of her own and embraced me as the fourth. She nurtured, loved, fed, sheltered, taught me … she didn’t have to, but she did. I bear many of her traits — those are the best gifts I could have ever received from her. My own children call her grandma, honoring and respecting her as such. And they are blessed that I have laid down that foundation with them having passed on mama’s teachings.
While it was not the ideal situation growing up and it had some adult-sized concepts to have to swallow and digest for this child, I would not have wanted it any other way. Looking back, those hard times of not feeling like ‘all the other kids,’ or living life as they knew it, has made me the strong woman that I am today.
Strong enough to hold onto the Hand that Designed me, that same loving and Almighty Hand that orchestrated mama’s meeting up with me and choosing to say ‘yes’ to me. Strong enough to be able to look up and say, ‘Thank You, Lord, for her.’
The decisions we make that impact the lives of those in our path have the power to turn the course of a life that could do far beyond what we’ve ever accomplished ourselves. You could be that Naomi that is immortalized in the life of an unsuspecting Ruth. And if you so choose, you, too, will be engrafted within the history of that person’s legacy.
Are you willing to be called out to respond?
You may never have the opportunity to meet face-to-face this side of Paradise. But your words of faith and encouragement can transcend the limitations of physical restrictions. Your commitment to her wellbeing, in whatever form, will indeed make an indelible mark upon her life for all eternity. And she will embrace you and your GOD.
Go ahead, Friend, leave your fingerprints behind …
and your God will be my God. Ruth 1:16
I love you to Heaven and Back, Mama ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary