Life Lessons: RUTH: Naomi’s Faith (Chapter 3)
Let’s pick back up in Ruth 3...It says one day Naomi told Ruth that she wanted to find her a husband. (I think we’ve all been there.) We don’t know how much time has passed at this point but we can guess that it’s been a bit because they seem to have moved on to threshing the grain. We really just don’t know but let’s consider during this time what NAOMI might have observed. I have a feeling that Naomi wisely sat back watching both Boaz and Ruth with the wheels turning, you know? She has known for ages that Boaz is the redeemer and Ruth has obviously been following HER instructions about following HIS instructions but it’s at this moment that Naomi reveals a plan.
Here’s some wisdom for the impatient single out there... Good things take time. We’ve been through this before and yet we try to rush things. Take time to pray, seek wisdom and observe before you rush headlong into something, especially something as serious a relationship. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t step out in faith and act at some point but we tend to put the cart before the horse to quote my grandmother and we try to jump to the ending by forcing things into place or ignoring warning signs. That’s where YOUR Naomi can step in and slow you down if you truly trust her judgement (or speed you up if your fear is holding you back).
Now, not only does Naomi seem to be a wise woman in understanding the benefit of patience and observation she is also a wise woman who seems to understand men. In the next breath we see her giving Ruth some sage and timeless advice. Advice that we singling and mingling sisters would be wise to take to heart. What’s this brilliant advice? Well, piece number one is to essentially look good and smell good. Like get it together. Truthfully, she tells Ruth to bathe, put on perfume and her best clothes and maybe, you are thinking, “Duh!”. I have the tendency to think that I ALWAYS have to put the “best foot forward” so I like this advice but in reality, Boaz had seen Ruth out working and sweaty for a while and he had probably seen her dressed normally, out and about in town but now it was time to turn on the charm. Men are visual. We’ve talked about how your appearance is important before but because of what it reflects about you. Are you caring for yourself? Do you take care of your body? Do you take pride in your personal appearance or have you given up? These things really do matter in how a person is perceived and can definitely be a reflection of underlying issues.
The second brilliant piece of advice that Naomi lays out is to wait to visit Boaz until he is done eating and drinking. We all know that men are easier to deal with when they aren’t hungry. For some reason, hungry men become absolute bears to deal with...even Snickers knows this! If we look at it logistically, chances are this would be the first time during the day when Boaz has free time. He’s most likely been working all day and has come in tired and hungry. Use common sense when approaching anyone who is busy and involved. Have you ever had someone try to have a conversation with you at a completely inopportune moment? This happens all the time for me as a teacher. I’ll have someone call me or come interrupt my class to discuss some trivial topic that could have easily waited. Seriously, I’ve been mid-lecture and a coworker interrupts me to show me their toddler eating an orange...WHY?!? What could have been a funny, cute conversation became a frustration that I was quickly trying to end. That’s not what you want when you are trying to have a heart to heart with someone. Use common sense, discernment and social awareness to determine when is best to broach any situation, romantic or not.
We won’t go into the rest of Naomi’s advice because it’s very cultural and very strange to us. Essentially, what I’m saying is please don’t uncover a man’s feet and lay at them. That’s weird and you probably committed a crime to get into his house. I do want to talk about the dynamics of Naomi’s plan. I heard an author say that Naomi “took it upon herself to overcome Boaz’s inertia” since he seemed to not be moving. This leads me to believe that Naomi had a reason to think they were interested and well matched. The modern version of this is something called “dropping the hanky” which refers to the old image of a damsel dropping her hanky in front of a man she found attractive in the hopes that he would pick it up and start a conversation with her. Sometimes men need a little hint that you’re interested because it may have never crossed their mind or they may need an opening to feel like they aren’t just crossing into a danger zone. Yes, men like to do the pursuing but they also don’t want to walk into a trap so help a brother out!
Finally, I think this plan shows Naomi’s faith because this seems like a bold plan even in the context of this culture. It seems that she was confident in Boaz’s integrity and how he would treat Ruth, both in regard to the situation, but also when it came to her reputation. Once again, a man of high character cannot be over appreciated.
Considerations for the Modern Ruth:
Do you consider yourself impatient when it comes to the Lord’s timing? What do you do during these times of waiting? Have you ever needed a little (or big) push from a Naomi and were you willing to follow through because you trusted them?
“Lord, please help me to wait intentionally on your timing. Help me not to compare my story to another’s and to not allow discouragement to make me forget the many ways you have blessed my life. Give me the wisdom and courage to trust my Naomi and make a move even when I’m scared. Thank you for your faithfulness in spite of my uncertainty and impatience.”