Today’s reading includes Ruth 2:1-4:22, John 4:43-54, Psalm 105:16-36, Proverbs 14:26-27.
Today, we continue the story of Naomi and Ruth. And I am going to go ahead and spoil the ending. In the end, Ruth had the great privilege of being in the lineage of Jesus. As you know, Ruth was a daughter-in-law of Naomi, who adopted Ruth as her own when both of her sons and her husband died. Did you know that in biblical times under Jewish law, if you adopted a child, you could never disown them, unlike a biological child? Naomi gave Ruth the chance to walk away from the family and stay with her own foreign family, but Ruth chose to go with Naomi. She is known for her loyalty in action and in words. She boldly said, “I will go where you go, your people will be my people, your God will be my God.” This foreign, adopted daughter became the wife of Boaz and the great, great grandmother of King David, all in the family line of the Savior of the world. What a precious story of redemption. Naomi and Ruth’s very survival depended on finding a kinsman-redeemer–a relative who would allow Ruth to marry into the family, so that their heritage remained intact. A kinsman-redeemer would protect the widows, provide for them, and give them back their family name. A kinsman-redeemer would allow them to adhere to God’s covenantal instruction, namely “Be fruitful and multiply.” A kinsman-redeemer would help make everything right and whole again, and bring comfort, healing, and hope. It is interesting to note that Naomi and Ruth found their kinsman-redeemer in Bethlehem, where centuries later the Redeemer of the world would be born. And how beautiful that God wove within the story and within the sacred lineage an adopted foreigner as a key player.
My heart is very moved by adoption stories, as it is a vital part of my own story. We adopted a precious baby girl–and then an adorable son–from China. We call our daughter Sally. She was born with a medical condition–a meningocele, which is a spinal cord issue. Thankfully, a surgery after we brought her home has taken care of her issues.
When I saw the picture of this beautiful baby girl, the file simply said she had a tumor on the back of her neck. I showed the picture to my husband, Mont, and jokingly said, “Well, honey, you ARE a head and neck surgeon.” He told me to just send an email to them and ask for more information about her and her condition. Within a couple of hours I had gotten a response back. They sent all of her records and said that if we were serious about this, we should have one form back to them by late afternoon because they were going to match her with parents THAT DAY. If you know anything about adoption, you know that this does not happen. What usually takes miles of paperwork and months or years of waiting, took us 12 hours and a couple of emails. Of course, then we had to go through all the normal miles of paperwork and the “hurry up and wait” process of adoption. But finally, the day came and we were able to bring home our beautiful little girl. Sally is now 7 and is happy and healthy and such a great joy to all of us. Sally sat with me as I prepared this lesson. She said she wanted to teach, too. I ask her what she would say. This is word for word what she wanted say:
“Hi, my name is Sally Berry. And we are the Berry’s. And we are all about Jesus, and we obey Jesus. And I want to tell you this: Jesus is the most important thing and He takes care of us. And here is my mom and she is a Berry, too, and I really love my whole family.”
Recently, Sally had to dress up as a biblical character for a school program. Sally brought home her assignment and I discovered that she had chosen to be Ruth. This fact was supposed to remain a secret to the rest of the class. We prepared a costume and a riddle, so the other children could guess her character. This was her riddle:
I came from a foreign land.
I have a new family.
I told my new family, “I will go where you go, your people will be my people, your God will be my God.”
Who am I?
As I watched her ask this riddle in front of the class, my eyes filled with tears. Yes, my people are her people, and more importantly, even at age 7 she has already chosen my God to be her God. I praise him each day for this indescribable gift! Oh, and by the way, my Sally’s full name is Sara Ruth Berry.
I believe the heart of God adores orphans. (James 1:27) He adores adoption, for he said that He will adopt us into his family, and we can call him Abba Father. (Romans 8:15) The more accurate translation of the word Abba is Daddy. We can call the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords–Daddy!
I am thankful for the heart of God. Thankful that He wanted to include a foreign, adopted daughter to be apart of bringing the greatest Redeemer to a dying world.