“And may he (the child) be to you (Naomi) a restorer of life and a nourisher and supporter in your old age.”
The Restoration of Life
“When I look at the world I see that life rises. The smallest seed rises from the soil and starts to climb. Rain rises from the ocean before it can fall. We are born helpless, and then with other creatures start our struggle to develop and grow. Trees teach me that life is dynamic and heroic. Each spring the sap rises: life forces defying the odds. Everywhere there is a rising and falling of life in endless cycles, but it is the pushing upwards, against gravity and entropy, that is the exciting, surprising aspect of it. This teaches me to…walk tall and push against the sky.”
What area of my life needs to be restored?
“Life is love, truth, courage, laughter, giving, creativeness, tenderness, humility, kindness…Give us life!”
The St. Hilda Community
“When hope does awaken, an entire life awakens along with it. One comes fully to life. It begins to seem indeed that one has never lived before. One awakens to a life that is eternal in prospect…
Wherever hope rises, life rises.”
John S. Dunne
For the past few days, we have looked at the different divisions of time which Naomi and Ruth faced, and journeyed through, when they returned to Bethlehem – the House of Bread. First they enjoyed “Harvest-Time,” an especially fulfilling time after suffering a life of bitter hardship in Moab. When God wanted them to again be within His will in Bethlehem, these two widows were able to feed upon the compassion, protection, generosity, and gratitude showered upon them by Boaz as well as by their heavenly Father.
Having experienced a feast at heaven’s banquet table, what had been lives of withered misery became lives that produced a “Fruit-Full” time. Hunger and thirst were taken away and replaced by a time of comfort. What Naomi and Ruth sowed, they also reaped – a time of plenty, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. But heaven’s feast was not over! In fact, the best was yet to come as “Redeeming-Time” showed us what the role and the right as well as the gifts in the heart of Ruth’s redeemer and your “Redeemer” and mine were.
Once Boaz went before the city elders and made it clear what his intentions were toward Ruth, all the obstacles disappeared, including the possibility that a nearer kinsman or closer relative might want to, if for no other reason than greed, lay claim to Elimelech’s property. However, Boaz laid out the fact that “redemption” would also mean the nearer kinsman had to take Ruth, too, so we find that in quick order, Boaz was able to claim Ruth as part of his family. Ruth 4: 13 (Amplified Bible) states, “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. And he went in to her and the Lord caused her to conceive and she bore a son.”
The very next verse tells us that the women of Bethlehem “Blessed the Lord” for this gift of a child. And there are three specific things they prayed this child would do for Naomi:
1. May he be a restorer of life.
2. May he be a nourisher.
3. May he be a supporter in your old age.
While there are parts of this passage we are going to look at more closely in the next few days, today, I want to focus on the phrase, “a restorer of life.”
Author Harry Emerson Fosdick noted, “It is cynicism and fear that freeze life; it is faith that thaws it out, releases it, sets it free.”
When Naomi arrived with Ruth in Bethlehem, while her friends wanted to greet her with the name they knew her as, “pleasantness,” she would have none of it! “Don’t call me pleasant,” she responded. “Call me “mara” or “bitterness” for God has caused me to have a terrible life.” As we learned, Naomi blamed God for all her problems. Poor Naomi! She wanted to go away and have a pity party! Don’t we all, at certain times in our lives? “Poor me,” we wail! And then we ask, “Why have you brought all this trouble into my life, God?”
What Naomi didn’t see or even recognize through her tears, was that God had a new life for her in Bethlehem – a life she could not possibly have imagined.
When I say, “New Life,” I mean just that. The grandchild Naomi thought she would never have, was born and this time, God was involved for He blessed Ruth, who conceived and brought forth a child who, we are told, was to Naomi, a “restorer of life.”
Having just spent a week with my two nieces and my great-niece and great-nephew (we all married very young!) I must tell you, having the joyful energy, the unconditional love, the continuous laughter and even the occasional crying all the time really made me feel young again. These young lives restored in me a great deal of wonder and happiness.
Cynicism can’t survive in the face of a child’s uncontrolled laughter. I can only imagine Naomi, who called herself “bitter,” changed very quickly and before you knew it, “pleasantness” filled the home of Naomi for the restoration of our lives does this.
Karl Rahner, from “Christmas, the Festival of Eternal Youth,” gives us a wonderful word picture that portrays the restorative life which another child gave to your life and mine when He came to earth – to Bethlehem – to the House of Bread. “God, the eternal mystery of our life, by the birth of Your own word of love…You have made the glory of Your life in its eternal youth into our life…Grant us that when we experience the disappointments of our lives we may be enabled to believe that Your love, which You Yourself are, and which You have bestowed upon us, is the eternal youth that is our own true life.”
When Naomi came home to Bethlehem, there was nothing for her to celebrate, no joy, no happiness, no hope. But then the restoration of her life was given to her by her heavenly Father. In the words of Christopher Fry, “Dark and cold we may be, but this is no winter now. The frozen misery of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move; the thunder is the thunder of the floes, the thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.” Life has been restored!
A Prayer for a Restored Life
“Christ our life,
You are alive in the beauty of the earth
in the rhythm of the season
in the mystery of time and space.
Christ our life,
You are alive in the tenderness of touch
in the heartbeat of intimacy
in the insights of solitude.
Christ our life,
You are alive in the creative possibility
of the dullest conversation
of the dreariest task
the most threatening event.
Christ our life,
You are alive to offer re-creation
to every unhealed hurt
to every deadened place
to every damaged heart.
You set before us a great choice.
Therefore we choose life.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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