There comes a time in everyone’s life where you realize the things you will never be — a professional ballet dancer, an astronaut, a multimillionaire. But what about when those things hit a little closer to home? Not married at 35. Not a mother. Not a cute old couple celebrating a 60th wedding anniversary. Such personal realizations can be tough to swallow.
That’s the topic of today’s article: “The Things I Won’t Be.” I’ve recently been taking a studied journey through the Old Testament (for a writing project). Through that, I encountered Ruth in a fresh way. Sandwiched between Judges and 1 Samuel (because of the story’s chronological placement), Ruth tells the story of some faithful people living in a faithless time; “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 16:7, NASB). Sound familiar?
You meet Ruth — a married-in outsider to Israel — who makes a dramatic choice to follow Israel’s God, the God of her mother-in-law. Enter Boaz, the offspring of a prostitute, and unlikely pillar of the community. He’s also set on doing what is right, without regard to the benefit to himself.
But by far the most extraordinary character in this story is God himself, who orchestrates details to bring together two faithful people and create a family. Not just any family, but the relatives of Jesus Christ.
As I read this classic story about the Moabitess, I was struck by God’s extreme sovereignty. The cultural setting was bleak. Ruth and Naomi’s options were bleak. But Ruth seems unfazed by her circumstances and unwilling to give into bitterness. Instead, she forges on, doing the right thing.
During my single years, I often had to do the same thing: continue to do what I knew was right with no knowledge of whether God would give me the things I desired. This required surrender of many of my dreams and the acceptance of the things I would never be. The thing I discovered was that once I relinquished those dreams, God was there to fill me with new ones. That is why His goodness to Ruth, Boaz and even bitter Naomi touched my heart.
Ruth’s story is encouragement. God works in the lives of those who are faithful. He is not bound by culture or circumstances. But to experience His “bigness,” we must be pliable to His purposes. Sometimes they look very different than our own expectations. But the rewards that come with surrendering to God are eternal and satisfying. That’s what we learn from Ruth.