Thursday, 14 July 2011
Warrior Bride - Pt 2 - Ruth, The Intimate
Ruth, The Intimate
Our example of Ruth is certainly one of intimacy. As the ancestress of the Messiah, the story of Ruth also becomes a marvelous foreshadowing of the qualities we need to enhance our own life. This story is also one that captures the imagination, describing the love and character of the Bridegroom, ensuring the safety and success of the object of his affections.
We would do well to remember some of our foundational concepts in our look at becoming that Warrior Bride. The story of Ruth typically relates to women and becomes passed off as a woman’s love story – men only relating to the Boaz character, leaving the women to cling to the character of our heroine. The walls of our gender must come down, however. We must begin to see that these examples we have been given have to be applied to our lives, and learned from, in spite of our gender issues.
Once again I generalize, but the probability is that women find themselves aligning to the stories of David and Abraham much easier than men can align themselves to the story of Ruth. We have been given both genders to learn the total picture of who God is, and to learn those things from each other that point us to the truth of our Commander/Bridegroom. As these walls fall, we can embrace our differences, and as our Commander dictates, becoming closer to the Bride we need to be.
The striking quality of Ruth is her humility. Her story is one of commitment and obedience and trust. As Naomi is leading, Ruth is following. As Naomi is directing, Ruth is obeying. For most of us, our obedience days are over. Taking direction is difficult. As children we are taught to ‘trust and obey’, obedience is expected, and most of the time our voices are meant to be in compliance with the one who is directing. As we become adults, male or female, we place great value on the fact that we now have our own voice. It dictates to us our comings and goings. It is the rare individual who can submit to the direction of another if that one does not give latitude for our own discretion. Our own ideas, plans and agendas become our identity, they become who we are, instead of our ability to follow the directions of one above us.
It is interesting to me that whenever we discuss issues of submission, it seems to be always in terms of husbands and wives, male and female, the gender walls again. I understand where these arguments originate, and why we get stuck on them. Paul is giving us guidance in areas where we still, 2,000 years later, are having problems getting it straight.
What is fascinating to me is that I believe one of the greatest pictures of true submission that gets overlooked, is that of Ruth. Not her submission to Boaz, but her compliance to Naomi is what astounds me. It is the model for our submission in almost every situation. The older advising the younger. The younger ensuring the older is taken care of. The younger following directives without even her own voice given place. Her tongue was silent, and her heart obeyed.
The trailblazers and trendsetters will not be happy with this. Most of us, myself included, would like to make our eternal mark by being one who has his own mind and voice.
Could I submit that some of the people I know that have made huge eternal differences have been some of the most humble and submissive people ever know? Some examples of this line of thinking come to mind. Mark Buntain, missionary to India, Mother Theresa, Amy Carmichael, and perhaps lesser known, but equally great in the Kingdom of God, Ron Garrison, one of God’s current ambassadors to Russia, or Todd Bender whose mandate is to reach inner city children for the sake of the Gospel. There are legions of those who are quietly doing the work they have been called to. You have your own heroes of the faith. Whatever our personal feelings towards the humanity of these individuals may be, the evidence of their humility and submission to the voice of God is very clear. Am I suggesting these are merely victims to their call, without power or identity or voice? Never. The power of Mark Buntain came from his quietude. His identity was clear. He was never a victim, but he was submitted. His voice was never silent in his communication with his Commander, but more importantly, he was constantly listening for his Commander’s voice, and ready to do His bidding.
Most of us think that it is our voice that gives us our identity, but truthfully, it is our heart. Our heart is seen through the most spiritual of words or the hardest eyes. It is Ruth’s heart of humility, obedience and submission that draws us, and Boaz the bridegroom, to her. Her submission was a choice, like it must be for all of us.
How then do we break free from religious tradition and from the trappings of our pride? If not with our voice and our maverick spirit, how can we hope to bring about the changes we so desperately need? I would suggest it be by clinging to our Commander/Bridegroom. It is lying on the threshing floor at His feet in submission. It is doing the work, however menial or difficult, without our voice in complaint or discord. It is knowing the Voice and following the directives.
Groundbreaking work spiritually is done, not by the proud, but by the humble. True humility is secure in its identity. It is confident in its place of trust to the one it is submitted to.
What about those difficult situations? Surely humility is not called for to overcome difficulties. What about those areas where we are seemingly ‘stuck’, or must contend with people of a difficult nature? I would submit that Ruth’s walk to Bethlehem with Naomi could not have been an easy one. This woman who had left with so much, 2 sons and a husband, now came back calling herself ‘Mara’, the very definition of bitterness. With Ruth walking beside her, Naomi says, “I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” If we had been Ruth, our personal reactions to that would have been anything but humility and obedience. Ruth’s commitment to Naomi went well beyond what was expected of a daughter-in-law, and still Naomi’s response was one only of her own loss and bitterness. Of course, Naomi’s response is a natural one, losing as much as she did. Our concentration is on Ruth and her heart responses, however. With Ruth as our very human example, our situations where we feel that we are ‘stuck’ in dead ends, or with difficult people, we find that humility and submission must become our code.
At whatever place Boot Camp finds us, our humility and submission will be the only resource we have for change. In order to maneuver land mines and skirmishes, our hearts need to take on the submissive nature of Ruth, following directives, no matter how mundane the task seems. Our Commander knows the battle plan. He knows the layout of the enemy’s camp. It we submit to His leadership, the victory will be ours. If we, in our arrogance, believe our eyes see a better way, we will stay in Boot Camp until we have learned our lessons. Far better to let the Commander lead, and as we learn to follow the Voice, the intimacy will come.
“…whither thou goest, I will go…”