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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dropped on Purpose - Part I

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”
(Ruth 2:15-16)

In the book of Ruth, we find a story of Naomi (a Jewish woman of the tribe of Judah) left all alone in a foreign country during a time of drought in Israel.  The misfortune of losing her sons and husband had fallen to her in their sojourn to find a place to wait out the great drought.  She has two daughter-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth.  When Naomi heard that the drought had ended in Judah, she yearned to return to her homeland.  Orpah did not want to leave her family, nor her home of her youth, so she stayed behind.  Ruth declared boldly, "Where you go, I will go!"  So, off they went to Naomi's home town.

The story continues with Ruth doing what most widows of the day did - looking for a little leftovers in the fields so that she might obtain a few meals for both her and her mother-in-law.  A woman without a husband to care for her usually was taken in by a brother, or returned to the household of her father.  Ruth had neither of these advantages in a foreign land, so she did what she knew to do - glean what was leftover in the fields after the harvesters picked the grain.

Ruth was hungry - she had two choices - go home where she could find food in the care of one of her kinsmen, or glean from the fields in the land of Judah.  She had made a determination of heart that kept her in the fields of Judah.  Many of us may not have been that committed to our vow to remain loyal to another, but Ruth made a choice that superseded her desire for comfort and ease.  Ruth was what we'd call a "beggar" today.  She was essentially without a "home".  She set out each morning into the fields, apron affixed, not ashamed of her poverty.

There is something very easy to miss in this story - Ruth knew exactly what to do and where to look to have her needs met.  She knew that the best place to glean leftovers was right there among the reapers in the fields.  She followed behind those that knew how to harvest the fields.  She is seeking grain - so she goes exactly where she can expect to find it.  We'd do well to learn this lesson - going to the right source for the provision of what we need is the first step in having our need met!

Boaz is a kinsman of Naomi's - not an immediate one - but a member of the family nonetheless.  He did something that most kinsmen that far removed would not have done - he makes provision for Naomi and Ruth.  He instructs his harvesters to leave Ruth alone.  This was probably more than a subtle warning to just allow her to glean from the fields - it was also probably a stern warning to now abuse her in anyway.  He goes one step further - much like God does with the display of his grace to us - and instructs them to leave grain on the stems ON PURPOSE.  

The purpose was to meet the needs of Ruth and Naomi.  She gleans more than she can eat - she has an abundance that is greater than her need.  That is the way it is with God's graces - they are always more than we need at this very moment.  God provides so much for us that is right there when we have need of it - all of it put there ON PURPOSE in our lives.  Sometimes it is a wise word spoken in a season of need - at others it is the extra finances to cover an unexpected expense.  Whatever the need, God's provision is put there ON PURPOSE and it is more than we need!