|Ruth and Naomi, painting by Sandy Freckleton Gagon|
Whatever beliefs surround it, the bible is a great work of literature. It is packed to the rafters with amazing stories of inspirational people. Tonight I've been reading the story of Ruth. For those of you who haven't read it before, get comfortable, it goes (vaguely!) like this...
There once was an Israeli woman called Naomi who, during a massive food crisis, moved with her husband and their two sons to the nearby country of Moab. Naomi loved her husband and sons and devoted herself to them. However, while in Moab, he husband died. Naomi's sons met and married two Moabite woman, Orpah and Ruth. When all seemed to be settling down Ruth's two sons also passed away. Full of grief Naomi decided to go back to her homeland of Israel and urged her daughters-in-law to cut their loses and marry again. Naomi would return to Israel, a widow with no providers, in the hope that she would find support from someone from her past. Orpah accepted her mother-in-law's request and tearfully said her farewells but Ruth clung to Naomi and refused to be parted from her. Instead Ruth made the long journey back to Bethlehem with Naomi and vowed to stay with her always, even if it meant she would never marry again.
In Israel the famine they originally fled to escape was still going strong and Naomi and Ruth desperately needed food. Ruth, risking her safety, went out to follow behind the harvesters and slave girls in the fields to try and gather enough food for her and Naomi to get by. While out harvesting Naomi met Boaz, who took pity on her and had heard of her sacrifice for her mother-in-law. After a brief bit of late night snuggling (I paraphrase!!) Boaz announced that he was a relative of Naomi's husband and would marry Ruth and so provide for the two women. Ruth and Boaz married, had a beautiful baby boy and lived with Naomi in Bethlehem. The really twist in the story comes as this baby boy, born of a woman lower that even the slaves in the fields, was the Grandfather of the future King David.
This story really spoke to me about someone very special in my life. At the moment I am trying to write something to say at my Grandmother's funeral next week and I realised that what we had in our midst was a real life Ruth. My Grandma sacrificed a million times over for the good of her family. She always did what was best for us without grumbling and she looked after many people, event distant relatives, because it was the right thing to do and they had no one else. And I realise now that I, and others in my family, are living off the benefits of the sacrifices she made. It has made me see that so often we are drawn into the flashy things in life but it is the small things, the simple acts of love and kindness, that lays the foundations for Kings.