Summary: God redeems the life of Naomi. The answer to her cry was right in front of her, every morning, every afternoon, every night.
I worked as a salesman in a clothing store for a while, and I found that working woman’s clothes was much different than than working men’s clothes.
Men, they want to get in the store - make the purchase and get out as soon as possible. All I needed to do with men to make a sale, was ask the men their size, and then put together an outfit, hand them the outfit - sale closed, usually they didn’t even try on the clothes. Incredibly, most men, were happy with whatever I picked out for them. They were just happy not to have to shop anymore.
Women on the other hand, are hands down, much better shoppers than men. Let me tell you, women know their price points, women know their merchandise and women… well, they are always willing to keep on looking. There is always another blouse, always another sweater, there are always more accessories to rifle through. It never ends. I could work with a woman for a long time, I mean a long time, and still not close the sale.
Then, I learned the secret that every woman in America knows: The right shoes complete the outfit.
Ladies, isn’t this true?
You are getting ready to go out and the dress, the scarf, the sweater, the purse, the jewelry all go together - but if you don’t have the right pair of shoes - forget it - you have to start all over.
The shoes are the key to great outfit.
After I learned that, it was easy. I was always in the top five in sales in the store.
Here’s what I would do: I would make sure I knew every item that was on sale in the store and walk the customer through each area starting with what was on sale. It didn’t matter where I started with the customer - purses, hats, dresses, accessories - what mattered was where we ended up - Woman’s Shoes. I would walk with my customer through the store putting together an outfit from whatever was on sale, a purse, some costume jewelry, a belt, a blouse, a pair of clam diggers, then hand them off to one of my buddies in women’s shoes….cha-ching, worked every time.
The right shoes completed the outfit; The right shoes completed the transaction.
We see this same thing in our Scripture this morning: We see in verse 7, a shoe is handed to Boaz, and the transaction is complete. The shoe is handed to Boaz, and this signals that the life of Naomi is about to turn around, the bitter cry of emptiness that Naomi let out to the Lord is about to be answered.
Remember last week I pointed out that though the name of the biblical book is Ruth, it really isn’t a story about Ruth; Now Ruth makes her self available herself to be used by God and Ruth is our model of a selfless person - she really is a hero, but the story is not about Ruth.
Boaz, he also makes himself available to God. Boaz is a very generous man...he goes way out of his way to help these two women, but the book is not about Boaz either.
This is the story of Naomi and how takes a woman who has no hope and redeems her life. This is a woman who is forced to relocate because a famine causes an economic collapse. This is a woman who first loses her husband and then loses her two sons, it is as if everything that really mattered in her life has been taken away from her. Naomi doesn’t have anything to look forward to in life, so she heads back home to Bethlehem to die - she bitterly tells her old friends back home, “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.” (verse 1:21)
She even tells folks to call her bitter, and who can blame her?
Now, remember, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, insisted on returning home with her. Ruth has taken care of Naomi every step of the way. She has been her companion, she has provided an abundance of food and has even go so far to make an agreement with Boaz to bear a child for Naomi. A child that would called Naomi’s child. A child that would be raised by Naomi. A child that would legally be Naomi’s child - and NOT Ruth’s child.
Ruth, our hero, is willing to give up her first born child, so that her friend and mother-in-law would have a legal heir - Ruth in essence is offering to replace the two sons Naomi lost, with her own son. Ruth sacrificially gives up her son for the redemption of another. Sound familiar?
Think about that, especially on Mother’s Day. What a close relationship these two women must have had, for Ruth to even consider giving up a child, and add to that the fact that in her previous marriage, Ruth was unable to conceive for ten years. Could you do that?