By Published On: June 22nd, 2022Categories: Leader Blog, Meditation for Preparation0 Comments

Ruth 3:1-6

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, ‘My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.’  ‘I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

I’ll be upfront. As a woman and a mother, the opening of Ruth 3 always gives me a bit of a shock. Really, Naomi, this is your plan? John Piper agrees with me. “The strategy she comes up with is odd, to say the least…It is not clear why she should go about it like this. Why not a conversation with Boaz instead of this highly suggestive and risky midnight maneuver?” After all, Ruth was given permission by the law of God to ask for a kinsman redeemer to marry her. Did she think, “Well, this uncovering his feet thing is a little strange…” Did she worry, “What if I’m seen lurking about in the night?” or “This could be dangerous. Must I do this?” Whatever Ruth thought, she responded in obedience—darkness, pretty clothes, bare feet and all.

So it’s a strange, curious way for a proposal to go down, in our eyes, and yet…there is something beautiful happening here. Naomi and Ruth simply believe that Boaz is a trustworthy, righteous man who will help them. And despite any awkward moments, it does work out. Boaz responds with a dream of an answer.

Ruth 3:10-13

“The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.  And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it.

He must have been very startled by Ruth’s proposal. He would have known that if someone had seen them together, his reputation could be ruined. He was at least twenty years older than she, so I imagine he felt a little awkward. The moment is one of vulnerability and tenderness. There is risk of losing self-control or being rejected. There is admission of need, of age, of wonder, of a desire not to be alone. But Boaz does not need a smoother approach; he is filled with pleasure at Ruth’s appearance and request. He is eager to help her.

For hundreds of years, Bible readers have considered Boaz to be a Christ-like figure. As kinsman-redeemer, he is the man who can give Ruth a family and a new life. Like Boaz, Jesus redeems and fills impoverished souls and lonely hearts. Kind, wise, gentle, and strong, Jesus tells us we are safe to rest at his feet, that He will take care of the issue. Just like Boaz, Jesus is drawn to the different, the foreign, the awkward.

God has always loved the awkward. In Exodus 4:10, Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Yet his stumbling tongue was not a problem for the Lord; he was still the leader God wanted. Jesus loved the strange small man staring at Him through the leaves of a tree and invited Zaccheus down. When an embarrassed woman crept up in stealth to touch His garment, Christ stopped in His tracks to find and connect with her.

Sometimes when I pray, I wonder if I’m doing it “right”. If I don’t pray the Lord’s prayer that He taught us, will He hear me? If my words are always the same, will He consider my prayers dry and unmeaningful? If I neglect to say, “In Jesus’s name…”, what happens? If I fall to my knees, are my words given extra points? My prayers often come out quite awkwardly. Sometimes they are only a list of needs I check off, hardly knowing what I’m saying. Sometimes in the middle of my anger, I grind out prayers I’m ashamed of later. I’ve been known to fall asleep while another person is praying. I’ve been known to forget what I was saying during my prayer. I am highly distracted and too in love with the sound of my own voice.

For that matter, sometimes worship is just like my prayer—distracted, rote, prideful. And my Bible study can be a random “pick a passage out of the hat” or a collection of two minute intervals between my children’s interruptions. I am anything but smooth when I come to Him.

But how kind our Jesus is, when I approach him under cover of night, creeping to His feet, blurting out words I am not even sure I understand. Worshipping because “here I am, standing in church…” Picking up His Word as a second thought. Like Boaz, Jesus is still unbelievably pleased to see me. All along, He has been watching and helping and waiting for the moment that I would come. Like Boaz, Jesus is not turned away by my clumsy, lackluster behavior. There is more than enough grace for that.

Maybe we should just we embrace our awkwardness. Admit that sometimes all we can muster is a slow limp. Feeling uncomfortable is humbling, and there’s nothing wrong with losing some pride. Feeling like we don’t know how to approach our holy Father may drive us exactly to real prayer and emotion before Jesus. “I’m a mess, Lord. I don’t have a clue how to pray or worship or absorb your word. Please come, Holy Spirit, and make this time somehow fruitful and glorifying to the Father.”

In turn, because we have been so loved in all of our awkwardness, we should offer this love to others who feel ill at ease themselves. Your next-door neighbor who feels embarrassed by her children’s behavior. The young man at church with a disability. The elderly woman who feels lost since her husband died. They and others are trying to find their way to Jesus, and your acceptance, helpfulness, and protection of them may figure greatly in their journey.

And if that idea makes us feel uncomfortable, awkward, and ill-equipped all over again, so be it. Like Naomi and Ruth and Boaz, let us strike out in all our inept, inelegant, vulnerable glory. We need not be afraid; our Savior.