|Photo by Forest & Kim Starr 2008|
Saturday, September 29, 2018
“Baba” and Ruth: Handfuls of Purpose
Have you ever noticed how God provides exactly what you need, exactly when you need it? As I have described previously, my grandmother Baba endured many hardships and trials, but God was faithful in caring for His daughter, giving Baba blessings and opportunities she could not have begun to imagine.
Just as in the example of Ruth, for whom God provided through His servant Boaz, near-kinsman of Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi, God arranged for handfuls of blessings to fall across Baba’s path. These would serve to work everything out according to His purpose (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:28), which had been foreordained since the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4).
These “handfuls of purpose” (Ruth 2:16) represent the visible, tangible clues of His working in our lives, even though most of His master plan is invisible to us (Isaiah 55:9) until long after we have gratefully accepted these blessings along the way, and may not even be fully manifest until we see Him face to face in glory (1 Corinthians 13:12).
For Baba, these blessings included God’s leading her to a Russian-Ukrainian community in Manhattan’s lower East Side where she could feel more at home with people of her nationality, language and culture; support from a loving church family; employment where through hard work she could support herself and my mother; and the friendship of an older man who offered her a second job and entrance into the Social Security system.
For Ruth, these “handfuls of purpose” were literally handfuls of barley that Boaz instructed his men to leave for her as they harvested, without shooing her away, so that she could glean behind them and not go home empty-handed. But God does not give us blessings for us to hoard them, but rather so that we can be a channel through whom blessings flow (Luke 6:38). As our former (late) pastor used to say, “God will give much more through you than He will to you.”
Through the opportunities God provided for Baba, she was able not only to support herself and my mother on her very modest income, but also to give sacrificially to her church, even donating money for the large oil painting of Ruth gleaning in the fields of Boaz that adorned the church wall. And Ruth did not work hard just to fill her own belly, but also to feed her aging mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 2:17-18).
But this was just the beginning of God’s marvelous provision. He had led Ruth specifically to the fields of Boaz, an honorable, God-fearing man who recognized and admired her faithfulness to God and to provide for her mother-in-law. Like her sister Orpah, Ruth could have been freed from any responsibility to Naomi once her husband had died. But in contrast to Orpah, who returned home to her birth family and their pagan worship, Ruth left behind the false gods of her youth and dedicated herself to Naomi and their one, true Jehovah God.
When Ruth told Naomi of Boaz’ hospitality to her, Naomi may have glimpsed the grand plan God was unveiling (Jeremiah 29:11). She praised Boaz for his kindness to them, and by extension, to his honoring their dead husbands, and she informed Ruth that Boaz was actually a close relative of hers (Ruth 2:19-20). She counseled Ruth to glean only in the fields of Boaz, so that he would realize her loyalty to and dependence on Him (Ruth 2:21-23).
As Boaz is an Old Testament foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, this is a good reminder for His children, who have been saved by our faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), to do the same. We should realize that He is the only Source of all blessings (James 1:17), and look only to Him to provide; we should be faithful to Him alone; and we should realize that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
© 2018 Laurie Collett