Ruth was gleaning in the field when a man walked up to her and began a conversation. “Boaz said to Ruth, ‘My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.’” (Ruth 2:8-9, New International Version)
It makes me smile to think of what a “pinch me, I’m dreaming!” moment this could have been for Ruth. She set out that morning not knowing where to go or what kind of response she would receive. Would she find a field? Would she be granted permission to glean? Would she be safe while out in the fields? God provided the answers. Not only did God guide her to this certain field, the owner himself, who provides a picture of Jesus, chose to speak peace into her life.
It is impossible for us to know how Ruth was treated day-in-and-day-out in Bethlehem. The Bible tells us she attracted attention. She stood out because she was a Moabite woman living in the land of Bethlehem. As a result, she was an outsider. The outside is a hard and lonely place to live. It can leave us feeling like we have to do all the “right things” to earn acceptance. We feel like no one thinks we’re worth including. If nothing changes, we end up stuck on the sidelines or tiptoeing through life trying to go unnoticed.
Boaz not only noticed Ruth, he also blessed her. “‘May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’” (Ruth 2:12) The word refuge means to trust in, confide in, and hope in.
At some point in Ruth’s life, she found her refuge in the God of Israel. To me, this is the most compelling aspect of Ruth’s story. Ruth received the grace of God!
Grace changes the direction of our lives. It moves us from the outside to the inside. Nothing brings more confidence into our daily walks with God than receiving the grace He extends to us. At the same time, receiving grace is not always easy because it means we have to admit we need help.
The idea of refuge is best understood in the context of danger. We run to a refuge when we sense we cannot take care of ourselves. Every person longs for a refuge, a safe place, where we are wanted, welcomed, and protected. Because of sin, we are in need of a spiritual safe place. According to the Bible, this is found in Jesus. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1-2)
The safe place for you and me is the place of grace. It is the place where we are protected from the consequences of sin. Thankfully, getting to this safe place is not dependent on us. God works in our hearts and reveals to us we need a Savior. We then have the opportunity to respond in faith. (John 6:44) Faith means believing what God said is true. At the heart of the Christian message we find one resounding truth: God loves you and sent His Son to die for you!
As Jesus hung on the cross, He bore the consequences of our sin. He paid the penalty for every wrong thought, action, and reaction that ever happened. The moment Jesus rose from the grave He proclaimed victory over our sin burden and everything that forces us to live on the outside. When we place our faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we experience peace with God. We are no longer on the outside. We are included in the family of God.
The result? We begin to live—really live! The journey from the outside to the inside is simple, yet profound. It is simple enough for the smallest child to understand yet profound enough to baffle the brightest scholar. God sent Jesus to die so we can truly live. Jesus died so we can have hope, peace, and power, right in the middle of our ordinary days. Through one act of love, God provided a spiritual safe place for us to belong.
If you long to move from the outside to the inside, run to Jesus. You will find His grace is already at work in you. Right now, talk to Jesus and ask Him to save you. He will! His grace will change the direction of your life. You will know what it means to belong because you will be wanted, welcomed, and protected.
(This blog is an excerpt from Andrea’s book On the Road with Ruth. Order your copy at www.andrealennonministry.org)