Listening to Ruth’s Wisdom About the Daily Grind
By Marlene Houk
The hands of older women tell stories of countless days patting babies and changing diapers. Reddened spots and tiny white scars speak of surprise and panic while cooking. I remember my mom’s chapped hands, fingers tightened in a death-grip, wringing water out of freshly washed clothes before nudging the cold garments between the wringers of our old machine. The clothesline bore their heaviness on icy-cold days, hanging lifeless and stiff or drooping lethargically on hot muggy days. Her hands testified to the roughness of her work, veins, and age-spots confessing to days spent hoeing weeds out of the corn and tomatoes and scrubbing four dirty little bodies.
Today, we may not show the toil due to excellent skincare and time-saving machines, and the work may solve technology problems and create paper trails, but the daily grind goes on.
Yet somehow, in the mundane, God builds His children of grace. They emerge, strong, beautiful, and willing to focus on the Lord. The Bible demonstrates the power of these mundane ordinary daily tasks in the story of Ruth, a simple account, but filled with complex and relevant truths.
Ruth accepted the God of the Israelites after meeting Naomi. She married her son and lived for ten years in Moab until they moved back to Bethlehem, Naomi’s hometown. In four short chapters of this Old Testament book, the Lord displays many layers of truth, including weaving our inconsequential duties into His plan for us, creating a tapestry of His glory.
Ruth’s labor differed from her companions only in the sense that it was part of a much larger and more majestic plan than the field that stretched endlessly before her. Her seven-day workweek trudged forward, broken only by the Sabbath rest. But, as a baby grows bit by bit, so she grew in grace and knowledge, step by step, not only toward a bountiful harvest but toward her God, yielding rich sheaves of grace and truth in her soul. Isaiah 28:10 declares, when explaining spiritual growth, that God leads us to Himself in small incremental steps. The verse says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” Those small steps also include the daily grind, and they build an astonishingly solid foundation that empowers us to prove God’s promises.
Daily activities enable us to be a part of God’s plan. As Ruth worked her way around Boaz’s field, picking up stray stalks of barley that the reapers ignored, the back-breaking toil underscored His plan for her. As the ripened barley and wheat proved the benefit of the right environment, so God placed Ruth in the field to grow a daughter of faith who would become King David’s legacy. (Ruth 4:22) As Ruth beat the stalks to separate the grain so that she could make bread, the Lord positioned her with people who could help her to glean knowledge about Naomi’s God. Then, she could absorb the truths that would make her a mighty woman who held a place in Jesus’s earthly pedigree. (Matthew 1: 5)
When we produce spiritual fruit by walking in the daily grind of our lives, we can see the cumulative effect on the kingdom of God and His use of our gifts. The daily grind that Boaz observed in Ruth formed the foundation of his statement that she was virtuous. (Ruth 3:11)
A daily grind enables us to track God for He dwells in the minute everyday repetitions as well as the magnificence of our lives. As Ruth walked to and from the field, she had time to think about the Lord. Washing the clothes by the creek, perhaps she reflected on this strange greeting that Boaz’s reapers offered, “The LORD bless thee.” The barley and wheat harvest may have lasted up to three months which provided Ruth with many daily pieces of evidence of God’s presence in the lives of the Bethlehem citizens.
We admire people who have long marriages, care for special needs or fragile parents for years, or perhaps those who serve their country with multiple tours. Daily struggling with unimaginable odds and being cheerful to those who can’t respond likewise slowly builds patience, understanding, and clarity. We give it names and call it having character: dependability, perseverance, and inner strength and beauty. Ruth displayed this nobleness of character with every day that she appeared in the field. We chafe at mind-numbing tasks, but when we focus on the LORD during the daily grind of life, we, like Ruth, move toward God Himself. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, we are changed into his image.
Focus on the Lord in your daily grind, and others will want to see Who you are seeing.
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.