Then [Naomi] arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread.
~ Ruth 1:6 (NKJV)
Ten years earlier, Naomi no doubt favored flight from Israel's famine into Moab, that she might have food for her two sons Mahlon (meaning "sick") and Chilion (meaning "failing"). What good Jewish mother doesn't want to see her children well fed?
Moab's price for food was more than bargained for. Not only did her family lose their land inheritance, her sons died anyway, as did her husband. As often happens, the thing Naomi feared came upon her when she attempted to escape it. If famine signified the Lord's attempt to get His people's attention, then running from famine held little likelihood of prosperity.
The end of Israel's famine came as news that the Lord "visited" His people. The Hebrew word used here is pâqad," which carries the connotation of oversight. Naomi expressed keen awareness that she was under the Lord's oversight.
"Do not call me Naomi [good, pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
~ Ruth 1:20-21 (NKJV)
Whatever bitterness she carried, Naomi remained pleasant enough and retained enough faith to be a testimony of the Lord's goodness to her daughter-in-law Ruth. Ruth's impassioned plea to attach herself to Naomi, Naomi's people, and Naomi's God is among the Bible's most beautiful and oft quoted pieces of poetry (Ruth 1:16-17).
That attachment proved to be salvation for both women. Boaz, the godly man of faith who would redeem them from poverty, explains the means of salvation and blessing for all people of all time in his words to Ruth:
"The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge."
~ Ruth 2:12 (NKJV)
If Naomi received more than bargained for in leaving the shelter of God's Promised Land, then Ruth received more than bargained for in entering it; she received not only the home and prosperity she might have hoped for, but also the husband and son she might only have dreamed for.
Those who attach themselves to Christ are never outside His oversight. Our hearts may wander to the very fringe of the shadow of His wings, into the place where worldly concerns and their accompanying anxiety penetrate the edges of feathers that cover us. Our greatest fears may catch up with us.
And if we see ourselves as going out full and returning empty, then return we must—allowing ourselves to be gathered into the nearness of our Lord's heart, which beats love and prosperity for us, far away and above "more than bargained for."
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave You, God, whom I love. Most High God, I ask that You please, please work in our hearts so that we will give in to Your desire to gather us closely under Your wings, to the place of Your most complete coverage.
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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