By: Sarah Norman
The story of Ruth is a story of a restless God. Like I said a few weeks ago, so often, we read Ruth as a love story, a fairy tale, but when we do that, we miss so many truths about who God is, how he loves us and the lengths he went to save us. This is not just a story of a woman and man meeting, falling in love and marrying, but a story of God drawing his people back to him after generations of following their own way, living their own lives. It's a story of how God made a way for Jesus to do the work he did on the cross to give us life with Him.
Ruth has never really known a life of rest. Most people in those days didn't. They lived, they worked and they died. If they were truly observant Israelites, they rested on the Sabbath. In the beginning of chapter 3, Naomi seeks to find security, rest, for Ruth through a marriage to Boaz. Naomi wants her daughter-in-law to be protected, to not be vulnerable, to not be on the margins of society any longer. At the end of chapter 3, she tells her the man will not rest until the matter is settled. For Ruth, a marriage to Boaz means rest and security. It means she will belong, she will be part of Israel, no longer an outsider, but part of God's family.
But this story is so much more than a marriage story between a man and a woman. As Justin pointed out in this week's sermon, Ruth did not find her completion in Boaz, but rather, she found her completion in God. So often in this world, we look to everything around us to give us validation, to find our completion. I have tried to find completion and validation in my job, my children, my marriage, my friendships. None of that gives me what I need. I can't look to a created thing, no matter how good it was meant to be, to find my identity. Just like Ruth only found completion in God, that is where we need to look as well.
God spent the first 3 chapters of the Bible creating the world. He made every living thing on this planet, then he rested, not because he had to, not because he needed to, but because he could. He looked at his creation, saw it was good and then rested. But then sin entered the world. And he could have continued resting. He could have said he no longer needed to intervene, His work was done. He's the creator of the universe, maybe He would have been justified in that. But He didn't. Since the beginning, since chapter four of Genesis, God has been restlessly working to draw his children back to him. Everything he does in the Old Testament is to bring his wayward and lost children back to him. He is patient and kind and loving. And the story of Ruth is no different. Without Ruth we don't have Jesus. She is the outsider. She is the marginalized. She is from the people group who were hated. Yet God brought her into His family. God had mercy on this woman who didn't belong and showed her that she belonged to Him. She had a place in Him.
The song, reckless love, talks about the concept of God being a restless God. It says “There's no shadow You won't light up, mountain You won't climb up, coming after me. There's no wall You won't kick down, lie You won't tear down, coming after me.” This is how God pursues us, this is how much he wants us as part of His family, as His own children. We can run away from God, look for God in all the things of this world, in alcohol, in sex, in social media, in politics, in food, in relationships, but we will not find our rest in any of those things. We may find ourselves numb enough to get on with our day, numb enough to continue existing, but true rest can only be found in God.
The restless work of God culminates in Jesus and what he did on the cross. From Genesis to Malachi, God had a plan. Everything he did pointed to that plan. The patriarchs and matriarchs of the faith pointed to that plan. God's kindness and love toward Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheeba pointed to that plan. God was showing his people that he had something better coming, but they needed to be watchful for it, they needed to be ready. And then he came. Jesus left his Heavenly throne, put on skin, and came to this world to live among us, to know what it was like to want, what it was like to be hungry, what it was like to hurt and grieve, and while he was here, he restlessly worked to show the people who He was and what he was coming to do. He endured a brutal death on the cross and resurrected so we could know Him, so we could be a part of his family, so we could find our rest not in the finite things of this world but in His infinite love.
I know when life gets hard, it's easier to run away, it's easier to shutdown and go on autopilot just to get through the days. It's easier to find temporary happiness in all the things the world has to offer. I know because I've done that, I've been there, I've looked for that happiness that doesn't last. Friend who is reading this, please know that even if you are running to the things of this world to find happiness, to find your completion, you can't completely run away from God. He sees you. He hears your. He knows your pain. He knows how lost you feel, how frustrated with everything you are and He loves you. He is restlessly pursing you. Cry out to Him. He can handle your pain. He can handle your anger. He can handle your questions. He can handle all of those things because He is your creator. He is not surprised by them. He loves you. He wants you to run to Him for completion, rather than seeking it in the things this world has to offer. He did all he did on the cross for you, all you have to do is trust in Him.