Do you have those passages of Scripture that no matter how many times you read them, you’re excited by them? You get goosebumps on the back of your neck in anticipation? You know what’s going to happen, but you put yourself in the character’s position and wipe your memory so you can experience what they do as if for the first time?
Today, let me introduce you to one of those verses:
“So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22
Can you feel the excitement? No? Maybe you don’t get excited about barley harvest the way I do. 😊 Just kidding, it’s not the thought of barley that makes me giddy. It’s what’s coming next in the story–after we turn the page.
The book of Ruth is the story of Ruth (you guessed that, right?). Here’s a short reminder of the story: Ruth’s in-laws moved to Ruth’s hometown from Bethlehem. There was a famine in Judah, and they were escaping in hopes of finding provision for the family. Ruth married one of Elimelech and Naomi’s sons, and eventually Elimelech and both sons died, leaving their wives and mother alone. Naomi hears that God has blessed His people in Judah with bread, and she decides to return there. Her daughters-in-law were foreigners, and she encouraged them to stay in Moab. But Ruth remains loyal to Naomi, and she insists, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”
Ruth and Naomi return to Bethlehem, and that’s where we started. The barley harvest. So, why does this particular verse mean so much? Because this is the moment right before the page turns. Ruth embarks on this adventure with enough faith to believe that Naomi’s God is worth following. She doesn’t know yet that her circumstances will be redeemed, that she will become a wife again, that she will have a child, and that child will be in the line of Christ. Incidentally, she also doesn’t know that her new husband’s mother was a prostitute who hid two Jewish spies in a little town called Jericho – an act which saved her whole family. Another woman in Scripture who saw her story redeemed by God’s hand.
Ruth’s story is a reminder that God works in the midst of difficult circumstances and that He can redeem those circumstances for His glory in His plan. And that there is hope. Pages turn everyday. Sometimes a lot of pages turn before we see God’s intention in our lives. Sometimes it seems as if volumes of pages have turned, and still no relief. Only God knows what the next page holds. There’s a quote that says, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.” We can trust God with our page turns.
Hang in there! Have hope! Any day now we might be approaching our page turn, and we can’t imagine what exceedingly abundant, more-than-you-ask-or-think (Ephesians 3:20) thing God has in store for us!