Lord God, thank you for leading me through another crazy show and amazing process. Father, continue to test me and to try me – to say to me gently but firmly, “actually, this is where you’re going to go next” when I think I have it all figured out. Help me to always follow your voice – even if it means walking through the darkest night. Open my ears to your word, open my eyes to your world, and open my mind and heart to your call.
“Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you.”
“And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”
I came back to these passages and the story of Ruth just last week, as I was in a fit of sadness, restlessness, post-show letdown, and simultaneous excitement for my next project.
Ruth’s words to her mother in law in the first part of today’s readings read as so full of longing, yearning, resolution, and stubbornness. I imagine the recently-bereaved young girl, holding Naomi’s hand, pleading with her mother-in-law not to send her away. I imagine so many mixed emotions running through Ruth’s mind and heart, much like what’s going through my own right now. Sadness over the untimely death of her husband. Yearning to go back home to her family. Resolution at knowing that going back to the safety net of her own mother’s arms was not God’s call for her life and not the path she was called to follow. I can see her being pulled in two directions and knowing, without a doubt, what her choice would be.
Ruth follows Naomi without a shadow of a doubt, and I conclude that this was because she was following God’s voice without a shadow of a doubt.
Later we read about the ordeal of Ruth going to Boaz in the middle of the night. Naomi realizes that he and Ruth have started to fall in love and that Boaz is a natural next of kin for Ruth to marry. She tells Ruth to go to him in the middle of the night. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
Ruth had already taken a big leap into the unknown by following Naomi “wherever she would go,” now Naomi is telling her to go to a man in the middle of the night and to do whatever he tells her to do (3:4)?? Even in today’s world that would draw raised eyebrows – let alone the day and culture in which this story took place!
And what is Ruth’s response? Not, “you’re crazy, no way,” as I feel like mine might have been. Ruth simply said, “all that you say I will do.” (3:5)
Sometimes God gives us wonderful things. He puts job opportunities and awesome relationships right in front of our face, just like he put Boaz right in front of Ruth. Then God asks us to walk into the middle of the night before we can have those things. What this passage says to me is that God was asking Ruth, through Naomi, to trust him fully and completely. You want what I have in store for you? Walk into the middle of the night. Where it’s dark. Where it interrupts the normal routine of life.
I am astounded by Ruth’s unparalleled faith. I am amazed. I am encouraged and inspired in the midst of my own “middle of the night.”
I am identifying with Ruth this month because I recently took a huge leap of faith and said yes to something that scares me to no end and that feels like I am walking into the middle of the night. I received a call for a job opportunity too good to pass up which meant leaving an already great job in Texas and effectively ending that new relationship I wrote about last month. I am overwhelmingly sad about both of these things. This is where I feel like I’m walking into the middle of the night to follow God’s call. Because it’s dark. I can’t see. It’s an interruption to my life. In spite of all this, it still feels right. No, not just feels right. Is right. Someone very wise told me after all this happened, “this is God’s way of correcting your misunderstandings about your life priorities.”
Why, why, why does God ask us to walk through the middle of the night?
Re-read the second passage of today’s post and we find our answer, plain and simple. Because God has foreseen something better. It’s that easy. And it’s not that easy. Like Ruth, we experience a myriad of emotions on our way to pleading to follow God, wherever he may lead.
So many people and stories in God’s word to encourage us in our faithful journey to follow his voice. So many stories of hardship and tests and seemingly insurmountable tasks (like sacrifice your own son?!?! Yikes, Abraham.). But in every, single, story, the faithful win. At the end of the day, God rewards. He makes his plans perfect in us, when we are faithful to follow him. (read the entirety of Hebrews 11 for a full account).
Say these words with me, out loud:
Alright, God. My ears are open. I’m ready to walk into the middle of the night and do whatever you tell me. Interrupt my life. Give me faith like Ruth’s. I want that “something better” that you have foreseen for me.
What aspect of your life are you holding back from God right now? What is preventing you from walking into the middle of the night after his voice?
Read the entirety of Hebrews 11 if you need more encouragement of the faithful who have gone before us. They’ve walked into the middle of the night. Know that you’re not alone – you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and can run with perseverance the race set before you! (Hebrews 12:1).