Saturday, September 29, 2018

“Baba” and Ruth: Handfuls of Purpose

Photo by Forest & Kim Starr 2008

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



Susan said...

I love the saying “God will provide more blessings through you than to you”...I’m going to use that

Susan said...

The end of my comment fell off! ...I said:
“I’m going to use that one! 😊❤️“

Laurie Collett said...

Amen! Thanks as always for your comment and God bless!

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie, I see much of what my mother went through in your story of Baba. After my father passed away she had much help from the Lord through many people. I too agree with 'God will provide more blessings through you than to you.' We overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Yes, I'm back!
This phrase "God will provide more blessings through you than to you" is so appropriate geographically in the Holy Land. I'm talking about the comparison between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. As the River Jordan feeds into the Galilean lake, I believe its source to be from Mount Hermon to the north, the Jordan River then leaves the lake to the south of it, the river flowing southward to the Dead Sea, where there is no outlet. The result? The Sea of Galilee is freshwater and teeming with life. On the other hand, the Dead Sea matches its name, so salty that life cannot exist there.
Having visited the Holy Land, I have been to both, each with its own unique experience.
An excellent blog about your grandmother Baba and how her life compared with Ruth.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda! It is amazing to see how God provides for the needs of His children through others, and it is a great privilege He gives us to be a blessing to others. To Christ is the victory over all enemies!
God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Welcome back! What a wonderful illustration comparing the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea! Sadly, many Christians are like the Dead Sea, sitting in the pew and absorbing the messages like a sponge, but never serving the Lord or giving back to Him or to others the many financial and other blessings He has bestowed on them. And as we know, a sponge that absorbs water but is never wrung out soon begins to stink!
Thank you as always for sharing your insights and encouragement. May God bless you and Alex,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post Laurie. One of the great blessing to us through Boaz and Ruth is that they are both human ancestors of our Lord. While Ruth was not a Jew she was given an important role, reminding us God can and will bless anyone who follows him.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Donald! Praise the Lord that salvation is open to all, regardless of our heritage or religious upbringing. Thanks as always for your insights and encouragement. God bless,