Recently I went through the book of Ruth in my quiet time. As I was reading about Ruth I began to realize that God had some very important truth for me to learn from her example. Ruth was a Moabitess, a foreigner who was probably not received all that well when she first came into Israel. But regardless of what reception she received, she had determined that she was not going to leave Naomi. She had adopted her mother-in-law as well as the God that she served. She also knew that with Naomi’s husband dead and her husband dead as well, no one was working to put food on their table. So she did what anyone in that time would do – she went into the fields surrounding where they lived in Bethlehem and began to glean what was left after the harvesters had worked in the barley and wheat fields. This was hard work. Yet Ruth gave herself to doing it throughout the entire harvest of those two crops. This amounted to at least a month and possibly six to 8 weeks worth of backbreaking work for very little benefit. At least during those weeks they would have enough food usually for that day from what she brought home each evening at sunset. This was the will of God for Ruth and Naomi now that they had returned to Israel. The will of God for them was not glamorous – nor was it all that fun. It also was something they did to stay alive on a daily basis. It would have been odd for them to be able to save up much if anything from doing God’s will. But for a period of up to 8 weeks this is what they did.
Too often we wrongly get the idea that doing the will of God will lead to a very exciting, glamorous life for us. I am not saying that it won’t lead to times when things are exciting and fun, but neither will I submit to you that all of God’s will has to be fun for it to be . . . well, to be His will. Ruth is not the only one for whom the will of God means daily doing hard work faithfully. Ruth is not the only one for whom God’s will may mean working hard for enough to survive. For the majority of us living in the daily will of God will mean having a job we work every day – and doing it faithfully – every day. If this is the case for you, do not be disappointed – and do not think you must be out of God’s will if it doesn’t breed constant excitement and thrills.
The will of God for Ruth meant faithfully serving her mother-in-law. It meant waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to the fields to spend another very long day working very hard. It meant laboring so that she and Naomi would have something to eat that day. It meant trusting her new God to provide for them. It meant doing that day after day for the period of the harvest – and then not really knowing how they were going to eat within weeks of the harvest being over. Faced with these realities, Ruth worked hard. She didn’t complain about her circumstances – she worked within them and learned first hand how to trust the God of Israel for His provision for her fledgling family.
God blessed Ruth because of this faithfulness and hard work. The first day she worked, He providentially had her come to the fields of Boaz, a close relative to Naomi. Boaz spoke kindly to her and even served her food equal to those of his laborers. Ruth didn’t know that God’s mercies continued as Boaz instructed his laborers to pull out grain and stalks to leave for her to find. He also requested her to remain in his fields under his protection so that no one would take advantage of her in her precarious position of being a widowed foreigner. Then, when the time came for the harvest to be over, God blessed her by having Boaz respond to her request to be a part of his household according to Jewish custom, asking him to be her kinsman redeemer. This may have been custom for widowed Jewish women – but the probability of her being afforded that kindness as a Moabite was not high. Yet before the book of Ruth is over, that is exactly what her God did for her. God honored this lady for her willingness to simply do what is right – do it every day – do it without complaint – do it with gratefulness – and do it well.
God calls us to Himself and to a life lived to do His will. I will guarantee you that this will involve hard work. Honestly, it will also involve doing some of the same difficult, hard things day after day – without immediate gratification or some kind of instant reward. Many of His best rewards are reserved for things that take time. Fruit is not an instant thing – it takes an entire season to grow it. A tree full of fruit takes years from seed to grow, flourish, fight off disease, survive dry seasons, stand firm during storms and high winds, and eventually be green and full of nourishing fruit. This picture in nature matches that of Ruth’s life – and it is one we should note as we live a life for God’s glory.
Brethren, don’t be discouraged at your hard work and your daily life of “not-so-exciting” obedience and faithfulness. God IS at work in you and through you. Continue to give yourself to a life of faithfulness. Continue to submit to the daily rule and reign of God over your heart and your choices. Give yourself to your family, to your work, to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the lost. Be faithful to the daily little things and the occasional big things too. Know that such a life honors and glorifies God – and – will be rewarded in the end. Who knows – as you draw close to God through it all you also may be blessed with a disposition that enjoys the every day living of life for His purposes, His plans, and His will being worked out for His glory.