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From Change to Transformation

By Marlene Houk

Burke CountyMarlene Houk Burke County

Ruth 2:6 “And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab”

Ruth 3:11 “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.”

Another world of culinary ability beckoned when I sauntered through the gate of sourdough bread-making. Although familiar with whole wheat yeast bread, I met new vocabulary and practiced my acquired language by kneading the words in my mind and mouth before speaking. Words such as levain, baker’s percentages, and banneton formed a good crumb in my conversation. I’ve joined three social media groups and perused countless articles and videos about the process (which extends far beyond simple yeast bread).

As is typical of the Lord, he carefully measures one part of my life, adds His spiritual secret ingredient, and enriches me as He produces the eternal aroma of The Bread of Life within me (see John 6:35). In this case, I had been studying and sharing about the book of Ruth in the Bible. Today, the bread of understanding rose to its fullest height when I realized that God used the changes in Ruth’s life to transform her into a woman who impacts me today with her wisdom.

Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, had suffered the loss of their husbands and Naomi’s other son. Having moved away from her hometown, Naomi decided to change her current location in Moab and return to Bethlehem. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, chose to return with her. Ruth not only physically relocated from her hometown but also changed her cultural alliance from Chemosh, the bloodthirsty god of the Moabites, to the Lord, the one and only true God of the Israelites who loved fiercely and generously provided for His people. Her transformation messages to us: from a “Moabitish damsel” (Ruth 2:6) to a “virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11) impact us today. What began as a literal physical change from Moab to Bethlehem ended by transforming both Naomi and Ruth from hopelessness and grief to a breathtaking purpose for their pain—fulfilling roles in providing a Savior for all mankind. Ruth’s life (from Moab to Bethlehem, from her god to Naomi’s Lord, from wife to caretaker, and on to the role of Christ’s ancestor) changed dramatically. But the Lord carefully mixed His divine recipe and transformed her into a woman of impact with divine messages for us today.

The power of Ruth’s divine story to change me didn’t occur immediately. As in sourdough breadmaking, the recipe of studying the Bible, meditating on Scripture, and activating a passion for imitating Christ needs quite some time. Listening with rapt attention as a child and again as a youth to Ruth’s story of rescue, romance, and redemption readied me to go behind the story to understand Ruth’s message. Through the years of my Christian life, I listened to countless sermons that caused me to ponder her divine drama from different perspectives or viewpoints. After many years, I mixed my Sunday School lessons, many readings of Ruth, and the Holy Spirit’s tutoring to raise and transform my knowledge to spiritual understanding.

I learned new vocabulary and methods of study and stirred the unfamiliar taste of them into my prior knowledge. Words and ideas such as ancient Levantine routes, unfamiliar Midrashic perspectives, and unfolding spiritual journeys in Ruth paralleling physical travels beckoned me to fold and refold my learning until understanding rose to meet knowledge. And then the many changes in my knowledge about Ruth gradually expanded to transform my thinking—at least a little—when meeting stormy times.

Today, I know more about sourdough than I did previously. My ability to create a levain (cultivated starter) bubbles up more and more. Hopefully, soon, these changes in my understanding of sourdough will transform into nutrient-dense, delicious bread that satisfies my family.

Likewise, may the changes in our knowledge about Christ transform us to the image of the Holy as 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”


Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at

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Blue Ridge Christian News covers Avery County, Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, and Madison County in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.