Thursday, November 12, 2015

Titus 2 Women in Reverse: Naomi and Ruth

Ruth 1:16 But Ruth said (to Naomi), “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God."

I've always had a particular affinity to the redemption story in Ruth, where the kinsman redeemer, Boaz, restores the line of Elimelech and Naomi by taking Ruth as his beloved wife. Reading that such a noble man as Boaz would be willing to risk his inheritance so that the inheritance of a deceased family member would be left intact is mind boggling to understand. This is a man who understands love and covenant. And learning that the son of a Gentile widow would not only become the grandfather of King David, but eventually would even be named in the bloodline genealogy of the Messiah, is truly an inspiration for those of us who were not born into the covenant (and raised in the church). 
The other aspect of Ruth's story that has equally inspired me in my walk with Christ has been the relationship between Ruth and Naomi. Both women  had suffered devastating losses. Ruth and Naomi had both lost their husbands during a famine in Moab. Naomi's suffering was even greater, since she had also lost both of her sons as well. Several times in the first chapter of Ruth, Naomi states that she believes the Lord's hand has gone out against her. She even tells Ruth and the other women not to call her Naomi any longer, but to call her "Mara" instead, which meant bitter, because she was bitter and because the Lord had dealt bitterly with her in her calamity.

As Naomi pleads with Ruth to return to her own family and her Moabite god, the younger woman, Ruth, responds by binding herself to the older woman, Naomi, to Naomi's people, and to Naomi's God - the only One, true God.  As an older woman, Naomi seems to have forgotten her true identity as being a child of the God of Israel. Naomi's example is far from the ideal as an older woman of the covenant. Because of Ruth's commitment to and covenant with Naomi, God provides a kinsman redeemer to bless them both -- and eventually to redeem the rest of us, too


This was no mere friendship. The younger woman, Ruth, demonstrated real covenant commitment through active faith, love, and encouragement not only to the older woman, Naomi, but to her people -- and most especially to the Lord. Because of Ruth, the Lord redeemed  the devastation that Naomi and Ruth experienced in Moab, while Elimelech and Naomi were separated from the covenant community, in the days of the Judges. Because of Ruth, we see the Lord transform Naomi's life from an untimely tale of death and discouragement to a phenomenal epic of life-giving rescue. 


In this regard, the text speaks for itself:  


Ruth 4:14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
We could use a new generation of younger women like Ruth who make the active decision to commit to the covenant community and to the older women, like Naomi, who are experiencing trial and suffering. Whether it is loss of a loved one, ill health, or just lagging faith, most older women could really use the energy, enthusiasm, and excitement that younger women often to bring to their interactions. I'm a middle woman. So, I feel the tug to be both a better younger woman, committed to the older women and the church, as well as the tug to be a better older woman who is willing to open up my life and share it with those who are newer in the faith. 

Thanks for reading!!! 



(note: This is a follow-up article to the previous Blogging Chronicles article, in which I attempted to write my background experience over the past ten years blogging.)



Series on Women's Ministry in the Local Church ‪#‎fwiw‬

1. Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Intro & FAQ
2. Women's "Ministry"?
 

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