I am "blogging through" the book of Ruth.
To see the whole journey, click on the button below.
[Ruth] said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”
So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her.
Naomi just gave Ruth some very specific and (I think we might all agree) very odd instructions: she told Ruth to pretty herself up, sneak over to the threshing floor (where the grain was separated from the chaff), wait for Boaz to lie down, and then go uncover his feet, lie down next to him, and do whatever he might request at that point. Even if we take the word “feet” to be literal, rather than a euphemism for another part of the male anatomy (as some commentaries suggest), Naomi’s instructions were rather bold and outside the realm of normal “proper lady” behavior.
Even knowing, as we already do, Ruth’s extreme devotion to her mother-in-law, I think we should pause and appreciate Ruth’s response.
Put yourself in Ruth’s sandals. How would you have responded? If I were Ruth, I imagine I would have nearly choked on some bread or spit out my drink (I do seem to be munching or sipping on something most of the time). When I caught my breath, I would have coughed out the words, “Come again?” And after confirming that I really had heard what I thought I heard, I probably would have had to do some serious thinking. Even if I already dreamed of marrying Boaz and had his name doodled all over my diary, I don’t know if I could have done what Naomi said. I don’t know if I would have had the guts.
Yet, as far as we know, Ruth didn’t so much as bat an eyelid. She simply said, “All that you tell me I will do,” and then she did it.
Have you ever been told to do something that you just didn’t want to do? I suppose we all have. I’ll confess one such story of mine to you right now. When Big Boy found out he was going to lose his job, I took on the task of searching out job listings for him and applying for the ones I thought would be a good fit for him. I saw the listing for this job in Memphis. Big Boy saw it, too, and it turned out that he already knew a couple of people working in Memphis for this very organization, because they had previously worked alongside Big Boy in North Carolina and/or Virginia. He was more excited and hopeful about this possibility than any other we’d applied for so far.
I, on the other hand, was neither excited nor hopeful. Memphis is FAR AWAY – to the west, at that – from North Carolina. Aside from the fact that it’s still considered part of the South (its only redeeming feature, as far as I was concerned at the time), it might as well have been in Wyoming. I liked the thought of moving there even less than I liked the thought of moving to any of the other places we had applied. So when Big Boy asked me to send his resume and cover letter to Memphis, I didn’t do it. I have no valid excuse; I just didn’t do it.
Well, Big Boy knew I didn’t do it. So he took one of the cover letters I’d already written for him and changed it to fit this job, and he sent it in.
And the rest is history.
Thankfully, Big Boy doesn’t hold my refusal against me. His attitude is that all’s well that ends well. I’m also very thankful that God didn’t let my stubbornness prevent something good from happening. I shudder to think what could have happened just because I didn’t follow instructions.
Which leads me back to Ruth with the question: what might have happened if Ruth had refused Naomi’s instructions? Maybe Naomi would have taken matters into her own hands: maybe she would have gone to have a little chat with Boaz. I can kind of see her standing at his elbow and saying, “That Ruth sure has been good to me. It’s a shame she doesn’t have a husband to be good to. You don’t know of someone who might be available, do you?” Or maybe Boaz would have approached Ruth. He had already showed her great kindness and care, after all. Or maybe another man would have approached Ruth – a man who might not be as kind or well-off as Boaz. Or maybe, nothing would have happened at all. Maybe it would have remained just the Ruth-and-Naomi Show forever.
Unless we live in solitude our entire lives, there will come times when others ask (or tell) us to do things, and we will have to decide whether to do them. “All that you tell me I will do” will not always be the right response, but sometimes it will. May God give us the wisdom to recognize those times, and the courage and strength to follow through. And may God, when we succumb to our fear or stubbornness, bring about his will anyway.
That doesn't look like me, does it?
image source: mrmen.com