The Bigger Story (Part One)

IMG_1012Ruth 4:13-22

Good morning, dear friends! So how are you today? How do you like your life now? Are you content? Or are you really wishing for more? Are you feeling discouraged or depressed? Does it seem like the Lord cares? Or do you feel that he has forgotten you? Sometimes we may wonder. We might pray something like this: “Father in heaven, I believe that you are Lord of heaven and earth and that you have the absolute right to do whatever you want to do. But what in the world are you doing? This hurts so much! Why are you doing this?”

“The explanation for much that takes place in our lives lies well beyond our own lives, and may be hidden from us all through our lives! For God does not mean to touch only our lives by what he does in us; he has the lives of others in view—even those yet unborn. That is why life can seem so untidy for the people of God. He has not yet finished his business” (Ferguson, Faithful God, p. 145).

We must fully understand that we are part of the story of God’s glory. Life is not the story of your personal happiness or mine; it is not about you or me. It is God’s story, but because it is God’s story, our lives have meaning and significance, even if we are people like Ruth and Naomi. Their lives seemed to be ruined, but God brought them into his story, and now we get to see their part in God’s bigger story. Let’s think about three truths that become clear in this last section. We will focus on the first of these today.

Consider the Lord’s power. The Lord enabled Ruth to conceive (4:13). This can seem very strange to American people, who assume that people are in charge of everything. It actually portrays a very shallow acquaintance with life. If you doubt my words, think of the many couples who cannot reproduce.

Reflect on the earlier part of Ruth’s story. Ruth had been married once and had not been pregnant. If she had borne a child for Mahlon, we would not have had this story. She fits in the “barren wife” theme that is in the Scriptures (Sarah, Rachel, Elizabeth, etc.) This reminds us that God is the source of life: “and life comes from God” (words from the praise song, “You are God”). We need to restore this viewpoint in our thinking. For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. (Psalm 139:13-16 HCSB).

God makes us and prepares us for the mission he gives to us (Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15). You are significant in the context of the plan of God. God has made you what you are in order to serve him in your family, your church, your nation, and the world. Sadly, the godless have no sense of purpose; their life is meaningless; weep for them if you understand!

As God gave fruitfulness to the land (1:6), so he gave fruitfulness to Ruth (4:13). This was in answer to the prayers of the people at the gate (4:11). The women also prayed that Ruth’s child would become famous in Israel (4:14). As we shall see, that prayer was also answered. Prayer is one of God’s means toward fulfilling his purposes. We do not have, because we do not ask God (Matthew 7:7-11; James 4:2c).

This is important in the life of your local church at this moment in time. In a time of great uncertainty, your local assembly may be struggling. You need to trust the Lord to adapt and to have boldness to do new things for his glory. The past is past. Stir up one another to fulfill the mission that Jesus gave us (Matthew 28:18-20). In the midst of troubles, think on the new opportunities that God provides. We all need to walk by faith with our Risen Lord, and realize that he rules over everything for the good of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). We need to think and act prudently, and we need to pray fervently. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit. (James 5:16b-18 HCSB).

Grace and peace, David