Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ruth's Dilemma

Ruth woke up with a start. For a brief moment, she was confused as to where she was until she remembered she was with Naomi in Bethlehem. She laid back down on the hard, cool, earth floor and pulled her cloak tighter around her as she waited for her heart to calm back down. She had never been this far away from home in her life. As exciting as it was, she had several fears to contend with.

She looked at Naomi lying across the room in the dark and sighed. Her mother-in-law had clearly given up. All the challenges for their survival paled in light of this particular dilemma. Ruth never felt so helpless. But by now, she saw what Naomi wanted. God's blessing.

Ruth dried her tears and sat up. She was in the Promised Land now. How could such a wonderful blessing for herself come through Naomi's pain? For what reason? Her mind sifted through all the stories Naomi taught her. Joseph's words to his brothers during their reconciliation in Egypt came to her, "What you intended for bad, God used for good."

The thought spurred her to her feet and she started to prepare for the day ahead. She found a water vessel and found the local water supply. She picked up some firewood and made a fire. They had a little morsel of food left over from their journey, and Ruth made a bit of breakfast for them, which Naomi refused to eat after she awoke. Ruth left it next to her in case she changed her mind later. Ruth also gathered some hay to make a more comfortable bed for Naomi. With some water and cloth ripped from the bottom of her cloak, Ruth made soothing poultices for Naomi's sore feet. The journey was physically brutal, but even more so for elders.

As she applied the wet cloth to Naomi's feet, she asked her if she could work in the nearby barley fields. Naomi consented, "Go, my daughter" and laid back down. Ruth got up and glanced at her good dress that she had carefully folded and placed in a corner of their room along with her small vial of perfume. Maybe she could sell those items if they needed some money. But she wasn't ready to totally rule out a marriage. God had provided a husband before when it seemed unlikely-- if He wanted, He could certainly do it again. How He would do it without even a dowry or family connections--the basics for any decent match--was beyond her imagination. It was going to take a miracle. Like the bread from Heaven, called Manna, that fed the Isrealites in the wilderness.

She brushed her hair, washed her face and headed out, not knowing where she was going. God will help me, she whispered to herself, I am totally in the dark here. Over the horizon, the sun was rising for the new day, and Ruth took heart.

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