“And Boaz answered and said unto Ruth, ‘It hath fully been shewed me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law.”
King James Version
“How to Live Your Life”
By Two Women Who Knew What They Were Talking About!
5 Characteristics of Ruth – The Devoted Daughter - Part 1
“Devoted” – To give and apply one’s attention, time and self entirely to a particular activity or cause. To work for a higher purpose.
“Fidelity in trifles, and in earnest seeking to please God in little matters, is a test of real devotion and love.”
Jean Nicholas Grou
What or who am I devoted to?
“True and living devotion presupposes the love of God.”
Francis of Sales
“That perfect devoting ourselves to God, from which devotion has its name, requires that we should not only do the will of God, but also that we should do it with love. ‘He loveth a cheerful giver,’ and without the heart no obedience is acceptable to Him.”
It’s one of those common sayings most of us have heard repeatedly, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”
I didn’t really understand the meaning of this phrase until my husband, Jim, talked me into going on a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon – one of the truly breath-taking natural wonders on planet earth. Having been born in the State of Arizona, I thought for sure I’d seen nearly everything possible at the Grand Canyon. Currently, I read that over 4 million people a year visit this phenomenal attraction. So you can only imagine what it was like when company from out of state came to visit my parent’s home – they wanted to see this large “hole in the ground,” as Jim refers to it.
But let me tell you, seeing this spacious canyon from a pathway on the side of a cliff is completely different from being in a helicopter, flying in and out of rock crevices and over the vast forest of trees which border the sheer pinnacles of this vast canyon. Until I was in the sky, high above the trees, the forest was an invisible part of the glorious beauty that surrounds the canyon walls.
What made the difference in the view? It was the perspective.
High up, looking down, gave me a completely different vantage point from which to gaze on a sight I felt I knew very well.
This is how I feel about the book of Ruth right now. For many people, who have studied the lives of Ruth, Orpah, Naomi and Boaz, it’s easy to think, “been there, done that!” There was a part of me, when we began our study a few weeks ago, that thought I knew a great deal about this Biblical story. However, as the days have passed and I’ve read more, I’ve found that what I was missing in the instructional biography on the life of Ruth was “the forest.” As we’ve studied, we’ve seen many trees, but somewhere along the way, I missed out on the forest.
So, you might be asking, “What does the ‘forest’ look like?”
Well, it hit me about a week ago. The “forest,” in the book of Ruth, is the heavenly insight, which gives us, as women in particular, the lessons on wise living we need to guide us from our birth to the grave. I encourage you to reflect on this unique perspective from the book of Ruth for a moment. Ruth helps us understand and identify the qualities that are key in our lives as daughters growing from adolescence through to marriage. And from Naomi’s life, we find out how the traits of mentoring young women and gracefully growing older, are attributes we can incorporate into our own lives. I think the book of Ruth should be called “How To Live Your Life -- By Two Women Who Knew What They Were Talking About!”
With this new idea in mind, for the next ten days, we will unveil the characteristics that are evident in Ruth and Naomi’s lives. For this is the lush forest that surrounds the beauty found in Harvest-Time, Fruitful-Time, Redeeming-Time and Celebration-Time in the book of Ruth.
No characteristic is more appropriate to study first than the quality of devotion, which personified the life of Ruth. How striking it is that God chose to use a “heathen” Moabite, who in contrast to the women of her tribe years before who had brought down the men of Israel, this Moabite girl instead, took the opposite path and not only left behind what held her back from God’s purpose for her life, but then boldly stepped forward into a new life she could never have dreamed about, especially back in Moab as the widow of an Israelite man.
The poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, penned these words describing devotion:
“The devotion of the moth for the star,
Of the night for the morrow,
The devotion to something afar
From the sphere of our sorrow.”
This is the devotion found in Ruth who looked past the sorrow of what was, to find the joyfulness of what could be.
The life of Ruth depicts for you and me, the longing of a young woman for a Guide, the “One,” who led her on a pathway, not of self-indulgent gratification from the offerings of earthly pleasure and gain, but rather, to a life committed to those who had made the choice to follow the God of heaven and earth.
May you and I, when given the choice, like Ruth be faithful in our devotion. As Author Hannah More so touchingly wrote, “The secret heart is devotion’s temple; (she) lights the flame of purest sacrifice, which burns unseen but not unaccepted.”
“Lord, make me according to Thy heart.”
“A Psalm of Devotion”
“Happy indeed is a devoted woman;
She is bound to her God securely.
She stands firm and is fed
from the fountain of faith.
She walks in heavenly light
and wisdom, accompanied
by her Father’s revelations.
She presents herself and
all she cherishes humbly
before her God.
She speaks what is true
with courage for she is
committed entirely to her
She does not fear recrimination,
nor does she flinch from pain.
She is committed to caring for
a hurting world and its
redemption, knowing God
accepts the gift from her
hands which others may
Open our eyes that we will see,
Open our ears that we will hear,
Open our mouths that we will speak,
Open our hearts that we
will feel…Your love.
As wise daughters, may we
be devoted in passing on
what has been so graciously
given to us.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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