Wednesday, October 25, 2006

bringing in the sheaves

Well, my lovely Wednesday was ending all too soon last night (see yesterday's entry) in too many ways-it's back to work today and a Bible study in the evening, so I thought I'd be smart and type my today's blog last night. I thought and typed for an hour, while still waiting for a phone call from my worship partner who joins me Friday nights for our Celebrate Recovery meeting. I left two message since Tuesday and heard nothing back. My patience was wearing very thin, as Thursday is a bit late to do music for Friday. I like being prepared. At any rate, I went to post the blog entry and realized I had lost my connection to the site. The theme of my post is the next fruit of the Spirit I'm studying, Job's virtue, you guessed it, patience... as I smacked the "publish post" icon repeatedly and said a few things not worth repeating. But I read about another person in the Bible in my evening Charles Spurgeon devotional that I think displays the virtue more thoroughly. She was a lady and a stranger, too, according to a beautiful old song. The person I'm speaking of is Ruth. (And it is now 2 in the morning, so it is technically Thursday, but still Wednesday night!)

I was thinking about the differences between the two people. Job had it really good in the beginning and he knew God. Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess, the daughter-in-law of a Jewish woman Naomi, who was in Moab because there was famine in her home. Finally Naomi's husband and sons both died, so Ruth was a foreigner and a widow, and Naomi desired to return to her home, which would have robbed Ruth of her only connection to her husband and leave her alone completely. The girl was between a rock and a hard place right off the clip and she didn't know God. But she watched Naomi, I'm sure, and when it came down to it, she vowed to stay with this woman upon the pain of death, accepting the Jewish way of life and the Lord Jehovah without reservation. In my mind this would be accepting certain death because Jewish people were not to intermarry with foreigners. They were to have nothing to do with them at the very least. She could not join in temple worship. She was choosing, choosing mind you, ostracism by choosing the Lord. It would be like a white person choosing to be black in the South in the 1950's or prior. A thousand insults awaited her-she would probably never marry again, never have children or a heritage. She may as well have closed the coffin lid right then. Why did she stay with Naomi? I think Ruth knew Naomi wouldn't make it on her own, and she truly loved her. She also learned to love Naomi's God.

Well, the story is a tiny gem in the huge expanse of the Old Testament. Ruth goes back with Naomi and begins gleaning in a field so that they have food. It just "happens" to be the field of a near relative, the man Boaz. Boaz is a good and righteous man who knows about Ruth, and makes it a point to notice her-not only notice, but take action. Being alone in a field taking grain without protection and having the aforementioned limitations, she might have been raped or killed. Boaz made sure she stayed with his maids in the field, that his working men did not touch her, even dropped grain for her to pick up, and she lunched with the workers. This was really unheard of, as he was a man of stature. This story is the portrait of two people whose character defined them and who looked beyond circumstances and outward appearance. Well, the story plays out like a Harlequin Romance, and the two do get married. But something else happens here due to the perseverence of Ruth. She is in the ancestral of King David and Christ Himself. She not only reaped food, she reaped the promise of God to His people very literally-in fact she was a component of the promise itself. Ruth in an Old Testament example of a grafted-in Gentile who received from God because she believed and was faithful, even without the hope that patience depends on.

It made me think carefully. I tend to think of the fruit of the Spirit as these detached qualities, but they are connected to a hope, a promise, all that God is. That is what gives them life and causes them to grow. We are called according to God's purpose, not our own, and will reap in due season if, like Ruth, we faint not. Oh, my partner called while I wrote the ill-fated post last night and apologized 12 different ways for not calling sooner. We'll be fine. The thing about patience is, it needs time to be exercised. I keep forgetting that part!


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