Written on December 16, 2014. By Shari Norvell
Day 16 – December 16
Israel couldn’t fully love, because they didn’t understand God’s passion. His ardent heart terrified them, though it released a passion without violence. Even so, He refused to wash His hands of this wayward one, which was the ultimate demonstration of “hesed.”
“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: ‘I remember the devotion (hesed) of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.’” Jeremiah 2:2
The word “hesed” is used only in cases where there is some recognized connection (covenant) between the parties concerned. In this case, those betrothed. Though Pappa’s heart was slain, resurrection came quickly. The fervor of His pulse grew as a wild ache set in. He purposed Himself to share the story anew, with a splendid encore in the book of Ruth. And all of Heaven paused, as the bride in this story followed willingly.
The name Ruth comes from the same root word ‘ra’a’ as associated (from earlier in chapter) does. And so, Ruth means (paraphrased), the aim or purpose of the mate to pasture, graze or dwell with His beloved. Wow! Ripped wide open and don’t want to be put back together. For Ruth was described as having “hesed” love.
Upon entering the Book of Ruth, we immerse in the story of Naomi who has lost her husband and both sons. All that remains are the two widows of her sons. We find her making plans for the future. While in Moab, she hears of the fields of Judah where God visited (cared for) His people, with daily bread. The wilderness.
In preparation for her return to Judah, Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to their families. This wasn’t the noblest of acts. One thing to consider was that her daughters-in-law were ‘mouths to feed.’ They had no children, so there was no assurance of generations rising up and providing for the family. Another thing to consider was that these women were from Moab, which was a pagan land. I’m sure it occurred to Naomi, that they may not be accepted into her culture and that she might even be shunned in bringing them. She had lost all she held dear. I’m sure her heart plummeted at the thought of losing what was before her.
What Naomi didn’t count on was a girl from a land of pagan gods who understood covenant. One who understood forever. A lovely girl named Ruth, who didn’t know how to say goodbye to love, encountered Naomi. She heard the stories of Judah as well. And somehow, she knew it was home. She innocently seized the idea that through covenant, all things concerning her husband concerned her. Somewhere on a breeze, she caught a voice that said, “if the husband dies, everything he has goes to the bride.” And as we read in Ruth 1:22, she was right.
So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
This modern version of the scripture says that Naomi returned accompanied by Ruth. Sadly, this translation leaves something significant out in its rendering. In Hebrew, the scripture reads, “So Naomi returned and also Ruth returned out of the country of Moab.”
We expect Naomi to be returning. Judah is her homeland. But how can Ruth return to a place she has never been? The word return is “shuv”, Strong’s #7225 and has the same root as the word conversion, which means “a returning”, “a return to the Lord” and “a return to the purpose of the womb.” Through an astonishing choice, Ruth converted and prepared to converge with her destiny. Her journey with Naomi, would lead her into the midst of something much bigger than her. In Hebrew, “in the midst” means the most inward parts or womb. Ruth was agreeing to dive bravely into the purpose of her womb, God.
“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go (proceed to) I will go (follow), and where you stay (lodge) I will stay (lodge). Your people (nation) will be my people (nation) and your God my God.’” Ruth 1:16
I thought this scripture was pretty straightforward, no matter the translation, but there was something about the word lodge that kept niggling. It felt as though there was a choice hiding in it somehow. Found a whopper! In Hebrew, lodge has two meanings. One is “to dwell, rest or abide.” The other is “to grumble complain or murmur”. Brings new meaning to lodging a complaint doesn’t it? But in this simple word I found a choice Ruth made. She was saying, no matter what your lodge is like, no matter if there is grumbling or complaining, I will stay. I see covenant and I won’t give it up because of a condition. It was her declaration of ‘hesed’.
Her loyal heart would be tested in the days ahead. Declaring to be of a people and being received by that people are two different things. Sadly, it seemed Naomi’s people did not honor the words of the Torah any greater than they did when they were given.
“The alien (stranger) living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens (strangers) in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:34
Ruth, like God, was looking for someone to love. She was possessed by a promise that love was meant to be returned. But the people of her new land called her “Ruth the Moabite.” When they had the opportunity to share inheritance with her, they kept her at arms length. They watched and waited for proof that she was to be alongside. And of course, proof is the enemy of love. With blinders of their making, they chose to see who they thought she was instead of what was true. A song of love was being sung over her, but they couldn’t hear it.
In certain African tribes, when a woman discovers she is pregnant, she and her friends go to the wilderness and pray together. They do so because they believe each person has a vibration or song. As they pray together, they wait until each person gets in tune with the sound. When they catch it, they sing the song together. Then they journey back to the village and sing the song so all can learn it. When the child is born, the entire village comes together and sings the song. they do so again when the child is of age to be educated. With the children of the village, the people come together and sing the bride’s song and grooms. Upon the death of a villager, the people gather and sing the song.
There is one more time the song is sung. If a person commits a crime or a social faux pas, the person is brought to the center of the village where the people form a circle around them and they sing their song. Though there may be consequences for the person, they are first reminded of who they are. Embedded in them is the knowledge that family (or nation) sings the song of one who has forgotten. When you know who you are, there is never need to withhold from another. Family remembers your wholeness when you are broken, your beauty when you feel plain, your innocence when you feel guilty and your purpose when confusion comes. (adapted from an excerpt of ‘Wisdom of the Heart’ by Alan Cohen)
There aren’t words to describe how that story pierced me. What a overwhelming description of what family is meant to be. Instead of “telling each others tales” we should be singing each others songs. There is a phrase Pappa says to me often when He wants me to speak something, “My voice is on the wind and the wind is in your voice.”
“When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.”
Jesus was Heaven’s storehouse opened for us. In doing all He did and greater, we are to be Heaven’s storehouses now. What an opportunity Ruth’s family missed. They could have opened the storehouses of themselves and led her to inheritance. But instead, they closed themselves off, afraid she might get something they didn’t have. And they entered into one of the greatest deceptions, comparison.
Recently, I was typing the words “comparison” and transposed two letters so it read comaprison. I saw it immediately when I saw the red line beneath, the truth of what comparison leads us to. A Coma Prison. It leads to a wound that creates a splinter that locks away a large part of the receiver.
In Europe, it has long been proposed to have prisoners put into a coma. In doing so, more prisoners could be housed and it is believed it would eliminate violence among the most hardened criminals. Instead of being put in a an individual cell, the inmates would be put in a coma for the length of their sentence in a community of others in the same state. The theory is, they won’t be able to communicate with those outside or train up another inside. When awakened, their bodies would be atrophied and they would be unable to resume the life they had before. And they would be aged far beyond their years.
It sound horrific doesn’t it? But the truth is, we have a community like this among us. Those who put a wounded part of themselves in a “coma” until… The until, is a vow made that would be similar to the one made over Snow White. She could not awaken until “loves first kiss.”
How blessed were the people of the land that from the beginning, Ruth declared that no matter the condition, she would stay in the covenant. Though they closed themselves off to her, she remained an open storehouse. And what she released was dangerous. Vulnerability.
We have prayed for many in recent days, whose heart cry is to be vulnerable like God is. The biggest hindrance is fear. This intrigued me, so I sat with Pappa and asked him why being vulnerable was so immensely hard for His people. He told me to look vulnerable in the dictionary. The meaning I found was “to be open or exposed to attack or assault”. Question answered!! I sought the meaning in Hebrew and found no word to match. The one word highlighted in my quest, was “remind” which I shared earlier, meaning “to be grafted to.”
So I asked Pappa what ‘being vulnerable’ grafted us to. I asked what this word He demonstrated for us from the beginning, meant to Him. He said, “to be vulnerable is to be open or exposed to something overwhelmingly good.” Ruth’s risk of vulnerability exposed her to God’s overwhelming goodness, in the form of Boaz.
When the thunder rolled and Heaven roared, Boaz responded and he “saw” Ruth. He watched her day after day, gleaning in the fields, receiving the remnant. In his own act of vulnerability, he became grafted to her need and opened his storehouse. He gave her the corners of the field, which represented inheritance, so she could receive more. Everything about Ruth now concerned him.
I am excited to delve into all this means for marriage, but I feel the pressing of Pappa to first share what it means when in the place of being single. I have wrestled with sharing this because I’m not single. But we have many in our history who didn’t feel qualified either (Gideon, Moses, Mary) but they all said yes, and so shall I.
Ruth brought beauty to singleness. Though the world around her tried to cover her in shame, as she was a childless widow, she easily received honor. She understood the antidote was to see what she was being given, not what was missing.
In Ruth’s story, it is told that she came to Judah at the time of the barley harvest. There was work for her hands, something to be completed. She was not disqualified from the harvest because she was single. She was right in the middle of it, reaping!! Though singleness can seem like a barren land, there is fruit to be received and given. One of my favorite things about Ruth (who I consider to be the first Terraformer!!) was that she gleaned daily. She understood daily bread. Her covenant was not changed by the condition surrounding her. Every day she gleaned, preparing a table for her family and those in need. It brings a deepening perspective to Psalm 68:5-6. She became love!
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Please, let me now go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I shall find grace (favor). And she said unto her, Go , my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap (fortune or fate) was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.”
The story within the story in Ruth 2:2-3, blows me away. It was after a conversation with our Cessor Director, Digger, that Pappa led me to a fresh reading of it. I was talking to Digger about singleness and she shared that during her time as a single (or yet to be completed covenant) she was quite miserable, until the day that Pappa placed a question in her heart. It was , “Is it good for me to be alone?” Wow! What a question stemming from Pappa telling Adam in the garden that it was no longer good for him to be alone. Digger said she never struggled again after Pappa said it was good for her to be alone for that season. She waited and rested until the day Pappa came to her and said it was no longer good for her to be alone. Then as Ruth, she gleaned daily and the Lord revealed her husband to her.
I think Ruth had this question in her heart to, as she contentedly set about each day. The one day, she must have heard a different answer. One day, the wind blew and upon it she heard, “It is no longer good for you to be alone.”
“And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Please, let me now go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I shall find grace (favor). And she said unto her, Go , my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap (fortune or fate) was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.” Ruth 2:2-3
Her fortune was to go into the field she was created for. The field God created her for and had faithfully led her to. She wasn’t meant to work in field after field, searching until it felt like home. She was meant to walk into home and know it was hers. Later, when she was given the corners, it was more than just being given extra grain. It came after Boaz’s words, “Listen, don’t glean in anyone else’s field.” It came after his marriage proposal. She was then given what represented the coming in and going out, the inheritance. She was given everything concerning him.
Boaz was not a young man. He had been master of the fields for much time. I wonder how many maidens came through his field throughout the years. I’m sure many were lovely. He probably knew their families, knew something of them. Yet he waited. Then came the one his spirit knew. The one he recognized from long ago. And once he knew, he gave her everything.
In the solitary place of their coming covenant, they waited. They understood that delay doesn’t mean denial. They knew pauses can be pregnant. Though a pause feels like a stop, it is a moment in history when God says there is something more I want to do. I have something to add.
Today’s blog is an excerpt from Terraforming Wedding. I have the honor of delivering a baby girl today, and so felt to post this instead of writing fresh.