The Two Fields of Ruth
By Marlene Houk
Matthew 13:44 “ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
I live in a rural area, but my husband’s family considers me a “city girl.” I know nothing about nutrient levels of hay growing in the field, how to breed grass-fed cows, or plan sowing, tetting, and reaping for the next five years.
Studying the book of Ruth is like looking at two fields: humanity and divinity. God uses the very human story of Ruth because a great teacher begins with the student’s current level and then connects the new material.
We understand the ideas of farming, poverty, and helplessness as told in the story of Ruth. But, somewhere among the sheaves of daily life, the messages of God lie quietly, waiting to be gleaned by our inexperienced hands. When we pick up a few spiritual stalks of truth, we have entered the other field of Ruth: the field of divinity. It is in this field that we are sufficed with the Bread of Life, and we return to our loved ones, sharing, like Ruth, those “six measures” with which the Lord has fed us!
The Field of Human Reasoning versus The Divine Field of Refocusing on the Lord
My mother-in-law used a valuable antique knife as an everyday tool before a family member informed her it was worth quite a sum. Because she only thought of it as a knife, the larger importance of its heirloom quality was lost to her.
Naomi’s husband and two sons had died, and she reasoned that God had abandoned her. (Ruth 1:21) The fog of grief clouded her desire to refocus on the Lord. But what she could only trust, we can see. Her story blesses and instructs us 4,000 years later. Even our wedding ceremonies consistently quote Ruth’s divine answer to Naomi’s question. In ageless and exquisite words, Ruth declares, “Your God shall be my God, and your people my people…” Because Naomi traveled through intense grief, her story becomes a textbook for how to help others walk that endless journey of tears and sadness. The fields of humanity and divinity contrast each other in Ruth’s story as we observe the difference between our own reasoning and the far better choice of refocusing on the Lord.
The Human Field of Unknowns versus The Divine Field of Understanding how God speaks
The first time the phone rang as I sat at my desk in a new job, I feared I couldn’t answer any question from the caller due to a lack of training. Our lives change constantly and catapult us into unfamiliar territory. We experience change on different levels as we learn to drive different roads, overcome inferiority when meeting new people, and learn to trust God in uncertain times. Ruth entered unfamiliar territory as she moved from Moab to Bethlehem-Judah. Was she wearing acceptable clothes? How did people feel about her ethnicity? Would Naomi’s God, and now hers, support her?
As we identify with Ruth’s experience in unfamiliar territory, it is helpful to understand how God speaks through scripture. He puts Bible stories about women who have experienced similar things in His sixty-six books. Like Ruth, when we grow in grace and knowledge, the Lord provides many life opportunities to test our new-found truths. God uses a change in our lives to help us practice our new spiritual concepts. Have we learned the valuable lesson of trust like Ruth? Then, the Lord arranges life so that we have an opportunity to trust Him in our next decision. Have we determined our Romans 12 spiritual gift? Then the Lord will lead us to a church where our gift is desperately needed. All we need to do is look at life through God’s perspective. The women in the Bible richly illustrate growing in grace and knowledge.
The Human Field of Terminal thinking versus the Divine Field of Tracking Him in our lives
Naomi had terminal thinking when she saw God as a vengeful and distant king. As she moved through her story, we can track God’s gracious guidance of her life and His abundant blessings despite her despair.
Naomi looked at her life as a stone wall, not as a pointer to greater spiritual treasures that she could unearth in the field of her circumstances. Her stone wall had huge rocks labeled widow, barren, and penniless. Instead of seeing them as stepping stones to a richer relationship with the LORD, she saw them as piled high and blocking her path to happiness.
However, we can track God in our lives by seeking His perspective. His viewpoint comes from realizing our blessings, growing spiritually through the treasures found in our trials, and the promises in His Word. The two fields of Terminal Thinking and Tracking God become obvious in the book of Ruth when we realize that we can, through Naomi’s story, see beyond her circumstances. She encourages me to rise from my pit of despair and look up to the field of divinity where I can reap peace, the purpose for my pain, and eternal riches. Good!!
The Human Field of Holding patterns versus The Divine Field of Habits that are Christlike
Naomi, the reapers, and the nearer kinsman all had very human thoughts that became holding patterns, limiting their faith. Naomi, despite her cultural legacy of having been reared as a Jewess, struggled with her outlook on life. She sank into a holding pattern of complaint and bitterness. She indeed needed Ruth to pull her out, and Ruth excelled. The reapers only considered Ruth as a Moabitish damsel, certainly not God-sent. God saw her as a valuable part of His creation, but this idea never occurred to them. They stood astonished at Boaz’s treatment of her because it trampled their preconceived ideas of ethnic prejudice. What an about-face they surely demonstrated when Ruth produced the next heir to his vast wealth!
In contrast to these characters’ holding patterns of human reasoning, Ruth broke through those dreary habits that often chain us to live’s daily grind. She developed Christ-like habits that encouraged her to develop a habit of godly thinking. She is immortalized as an example to us in the 21st century of God’s rewards to those who discipline themselves to be holy.
The next time you read the book of Ruth, think beyond the story to the two fields presented in this tiny book: the field of humanity, and the field of divinity. Your eyes will be opened as Naomi and Ruth encourage you to look beyond your circumstances to the divine hand of God in your life.
Marlene Houk is a regualr contributor to Blue Ridge Christain News. Her passion is to delve deeply into the truths of Bible women and to discuss those in Bible Studies called Backstage Pass to Bible Women. She and her husband discover joy, nurture, and challenge in their church. Her contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can Purchase her book, Hidden in a List: secrets from Bible women, on Amazon HERE.