The Rhythm

I’m listening to a series on Ruth right now by Pastor Mark Driscoll. This story fascinates me. Naomi’s name actually means “Sweet” but after her affliction in Moab, losing her husband and 2 sons, she returns to Bethlehem and renames herself Mara, which means “bitter.” Her reason:  “Because God has dealt bitterly with me.”  Naomi has suffered greatly and she does not come home pretending that everything is going to be fine. She is grieving, and she is even a little disillusioned with God.

What grabs me in this beginning part of the story is that God is still so obviously at work. First of all, he uses a crushed old woman to draw Ruth to Himself. Ruth is a Moabite, a worshiper of the false god Chemosh. But when Naomi decides to return to Israel, Ruth insists on going with her. Ruth boldly proclaims, “Your God will be my God and your people will be my people.” What evidence does she have that this Israelite God is worth following? God’s witness to her is that of a family who has been decimated…a widow left without her children. Yet, Ruth sees in Naomi and in her family something that draws her to God. She leaves her people,  her culture, her own way of life behind and follows Naomi home to Israel.

The second hint that God is at work is that they arrive in Bethlehem “as the barley harvest was beginning.” The whole reason Naomi’s family had moved away was because of a famine in the land. Now the famine is over and there is a promise of provision. The barley harvest is beginning.  It’s not just the hint of physical provision. It’s also a foreshadowing of the harvest of good that God is going to bring about in the lives of Naomi and Ruth.

I am encouraged and challenged when I see the rhythm of God’s ways in this story. The grief, the shattered dreams, the brokenness are almost unbearable. The darkness seems overwhelming.  And all the while in midst of the pain, God is moving, and His rhythm is compelling. His rhythm gives hope.

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