She was many things–a gleaner of wheat, a widow, a loyal daughter-in-law, a daughter, a damsel, a stranger, a Moabitess. And she described herself as different. A foreigner–not beautiful, different from the other handmaidens.
Ruth traveled a long distance with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem after her father-in-law and husband died. She could have easily left Naomi and gone back to the land she knew–to her home where her mother and family resided. Turned and walked away like her sister-in-law Oprah. But she didn’t. And now here she is on foreign soil–a stranger–a refugee. The book of Ruth is a very familiar story in the Bible.
With no food or provisions, Ruth asked Naomi, “Let me go now into the field, and glean ears of corn,” (Ruth 2:2). Her question spoke in humble respect. And Naomi answered, “Go, my daughter.” (Ruth 2:2).
History teaches us the poor went to the fields to glean crops after they had been harvested. And Ruth took her place in the field not alongside the poor--the reapers, but after them. She was third to the table. And when you are third to the table the food is scarce and, in a field, full of grain, the best has already been taken. Ruth, she gleaned the scraps. “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers. (Ruth 2:3).
Boaz, the owner of the field, was a man visible–present among the people–he was generous and kind. This rich landowner no doubt had many responsibilities and other tasks to do–but he took time out of his day to visit and share with the reapers. Whisper a prayer over them. “The Lord be with you.” (Ruth 2:4). And in turn, they blessed him. “The Lord bless thee.” (Ruth 2:4). They saw him and acknowledged his generosity and kindness. They also recognized God in his heart.
Boaz took notice of Ruth on this morning and inquired who the damsel was, and his servant told him of Ruth’s story. How she had left her homeland to take care of her mother-in-law. He told Boaz she had worked all morning–gathering leftovers after the reapers. And Boaz saw her with an even more tender heart and took mercy on Ruth. Stay close to my maidens and everything you need will be provided for you–grain, water, protection, he said to Ruth.
And again, we see the same humility and meekness which Ruth showed to her mother-in-law, now shown to Boaz. Ruth fell on her face in gratitude to Boaz–asking why he had taken the time for her–to see her–speak kindness to her. She called herself a stranger–different. "I be not like one of thine handmaidens.” (Ruth 2:13). Maybe she was older than the other handmaidens. Maybe her skin, a little darker. Maybe she didn’t think of herself as worthy.
I have heard your story, said Boaz. And when mealtime came, Boaz invited Ruth to the table with the other reapers. “Eat of the bread and dip thy morsel into the vinegar.” (Ruth 2:14) . Ruth didn’t gather at the table as an outsider–someone different. But as a somebody. Somebody that belonged. Boaz made certain of this.
I watched as this little boy from foreign soil, now on a rural road in NC–he couldn’t have been more than six or seven. He stepped off the school bus–his Mama waiting. And he ran to her, and she was clapping, so excited to see him. When he got closer, she hugged him and turned to walk beside him and lifted the oversized book bag off his shoulders and placed it on hers–lifting his load. She chose to carry the heavy burden for him. And he knew he was seen, and he was loved.
The woman couldn’t speak English. She sat quietly in a chair against the wall–her daughter at the counselor’s desk. The daughter was completing her college application. She would be the first in her family to attend college in a country where she was not born–but now calls home. The last document was signed, and the daughter’s countenance changed from worried to elated. And her Mother, she stands and doesn’t speak a word–but nods her head in thanks and smiles at the counselor holding back her salted tears. And the counselor knows there is this love language that needs no words–only grace.
After the meal Ruth rises from the table and goes back to the field to gather more grain. Boaz watches her with his protected eye and draws his men near. Allow the damsel to glean among the sheaves now–the large bundles. Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. (Ruth 2: 15-16).
Boaz never saw Ruth as she saw herself. Different. Stranger. Foreigner. Refugee. He provided for Ruth’s every need. He protected her from the first moment he laid eyes on her. And even though he knew very little of her story, he never judged. He saw her as a somebody, as he did with everyone gleaning in his fields and those who worked for him.
Ruth worked late in the evening until her needs were met–the Bible says she gathered about an ephah of barley–ephah in Hebrew means a bushel. And Ruth began the journey back to the city to the home she shared with her mother-in-law. Naomi was pleased with Ruth’s day’s work and asked, whose field did you glean today? And Ruth replied, “The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.” (Ruth 2:19)
Be someone’s Boaz.
A sincere and gracious thank you to We Welcome for sharing my story, Be Someone's Boaz with their email subscribers. To learn more about the much needed and important work they do and how you can get involved, visit their website at https://www.wechoosewelcome.com/
All scripture used from King James Version of the Holy Bible.
All photos and content belong to the writer and a beautiful grace.