One of my favourite stories in the bible is the book of Ruth. Our heroine is a woman grieved, widowed, destitute. A woman far from home, a wanderer and a seeker of truth. She’s looking for hope in a world that would appear to have let her down. Of all the women we might read about, Ruth has more reason than most to doubt the goodness of God, to doubt the possibility of hope.
This foreigner to Judah, she goes out gleaning in the fields, taking hold of the rights given to her under the Mosaic law.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19v9-10)
And while she’s taking hold of the provision God makes for her under the law, she’s seen in the field by Boaz, a man who sees right through everything all the way into her heart.
And he’s moved by her, just full on, all the way to the bottom of his boots, cracked open with compassion for this outsider, trying to make her way on the handouts and the scraps. And it’s not pity that makes him look twice but grace that sees all that she has been made to be and who she really is:
“All that you have done for your mother in law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2v11-12)
We’re all Ruth really: stood on the edges of the field with our histories and our brokeness, gleaning from life whatever scraps we can find.
Until the master sees us. And out of nothing we’ve earned or deserved says come near.
Come and sit beside Him at His table and feast on my bread and wine, broken and poured out for you in abundance. Oh there’s always enough at the feast of the lamb. It costs Jesus everything, far more than grain.
He beckons the weary mama doing it all alone, and the fatherless child who doesn’t know who in the world he is, and the families splitting at the seams and the tripping and stumbling and all those whom the world has turned their faces away from and he
Wraps himself around us. Pulls a covering over the lost and the lonely and makes us his own.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife
Charles Spurgeon, said it himself:
Instead of offering you a gleaning, he offers you himself.
You came to be a gleaner, He would make you His spouse.
We’re all invited in to belonging. To a forever love that never ever ends. Love that’s overflowing, enough for always.
So we’re on our knees this Easter for our families that need to know this transforming love. We’re praying with Holy Trinity Church through the night on the 13th April, Maundy Thursday, for those in our community who have only come to glean, but by His grace the Lord is offering himself. We are praying and planning a new project which will hopefully provide home and care for a Syrian refugee family. We’re making room at the table, offering not what the law demands but what overflows in grace.
We are celebrating, so thankful, for the God that isn’t content with the law that would just provide the scraps for this world so in need, but who generously and abundantly has given us His son, so that each one of us can be wrapped up in his neverending love and carried home.
Ellie Hughes, April 2017