Summary: God is constantly weaving my story into His story
When Mary and I went to Maui this summer, we spent a lot of time at this beach at Kapalua Bay [show picture]. As you can see, this is a beautiful beach on a nice calm bay. But if all we had done was to sit on the beach and enjoy the view, as great as it is, we would have missed out on the amazing life that exists just below the surface. So, in order for us to experience all that bay had to offer, we actually had to get up off the beach, put on our snorkeling gear and get into the water. And once we did that, we entered into a whole different world that we couldn’t see from the beach. [Show video].
I think this is a pretty good illustration of the way that many, if not most, people live their lives. Although God is weaving this incredible story all around us, we don’t take the time or make the effort to move beyond our own little world and see what God is doing under the surface. And when we live life like that we find that it can be empty, disappointing, purposeless and lacking in joy. But if we’ll go below the surface, we soon discover that…
God is constantly weaving my story
into His story
And once we figure that out, we enter into a world that brings fullness, purpose and joy to our lives.
Wouldn’t you like to live a life like that – a life in which you see how your story fits in to the much greater story that God is constantly developing and carrying out? Today we’re going to see if we can’t get some insight about how to live life like that. And we’re going to do that by looking at the account of someone who didn’t do that particularly well, so that hopefully we can learn from her mistakes so we don’t have to make them ourselves.
While many of us are familiar to some degree with her story, what is really interesting to me is that her story is actually a part of a book of the Bible that is named after another woman. But in spite of that, what I hope to show you this morning is that this woman, and not Ruth, is actually the main focus of the book of Ruth.
Many of you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the book of Ruth, especially as it relates to two of the main characters – Ruth and Boaz. But I think that it is actually more the story of Naomi than it is the story of Ruth, since the book begins and ends with the focus on Naomi and Naomi is such an integral part of the story in between.
As we read some of that story together this morning, I want you to think about how God is weaving Naomi’s story into His story and I also want you to think about why it seems that Naomi misses out on the joy that could have been hers had she just recognized that her story was a part of God’s story.
So with that in mind, follow along as I read beginning in Ruth 1:
[Read Ruth 1:1-5]
The first important piece of information that we’re given is that this story takes place during the time of the judges. As we talked about last week, that was a transitional time for the nation of Israel where they lived as a loose association of tribes rather than a united commonwealth. It was a time in which Israel continually goes through a cycle of doing evil, being placed into bondage, crying out to God, being delivered by God and then experiencing a period of peace. Based on the genealogy at the end of the book, we can determine that this story takes place near the end of that period.
We also learn right away that the story of Ruth is a story filled with setbacks. We see the first setback right off the bat.
A famine comes to Judah, so even though there is no evidence that God called them to do so, Elimelech and his wife, Naomi go to Moab to find food. While they are there, Elimelech dies and the two sons – Mahlon, whose name means “sickly”, and Chilion, whose name means “failing” – marry Moabite wives. This is in clear violation of the commands that God had given His people before they entered the Promised Land.
For ten years their wives prove to be barren and then, while they are still in Moab, both sons die and leave widows – Ruth and Orpah.
Without a doubt, on the surface, things look pretty bleak for Naomi. But God is just beginning to weave an unbelievable story with Naomi right at the center.