letter from the editor:
the journey of Ruth

Everyone has experienced a season in life where the dry places of the heart feel just like a desert. 
Spiritual rain is scarce, bitter pain destroys flowers of hope, and confusion clouds any rays of sunlight.  

As the Book of Ruth opens, we find Naomi trapped in a season like this. The fresh pain of widowhood is piercing her heart, as well as the staggering blow of losing her two sons. 

Hope was nowhere to be seen on Naomi's radar.  

"I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty." {Ruth 1:21} 

All of her cisterns had run dry. All joy was gone. 
She was so deep in the pit of depression that she desired to change her name to Mara, which means bitterness. Naomi felt all alone. But little did she know, that there was someone who could totally relate with her lot in life.
 
Her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Ruth had also lost everything she cherished and loved so dearly. The husband of her youth was taken from her, and now she had nowhere to turn.

Naomi advised her daughter-in-love to go find a new husband, "I'm going back to my homeland. But you're still young! You have time! Don't waste your life grieving with me. Make the most of what you still have."

Despite Naomi's compelling speech to leave her and go find a new man, Ruth had something else in mind.  
Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." {1:16} 

Ruth's faithfulness and devotion here goes far beyond a simple act of friendship and kindness. 
This is Ruth pounding her stakes in the ground, setting her firm resolve, making a lifelong commitment to serving this woman. 

"I'm not leaving you. Where you die, I'll die, and where you're buried, I will be buried."

That's some gutsy love. That's the kinda friendship that remains. That's the tenacity that Jesus requires of us, when He commands us to take up our cross and follow Him. {Matthew 16:24.}

This same spirit of devotion urged Peter to follow Christ, even to the point of martyrdom. This same cry, "I'll follow You anywhere!" echoed through the heart of Thomas as he ministered in India, and Asia before being brutally murdered for his faith. This is what kept Paul rejoicing in the midst of his chains and beatings. 

This is what keeps a young girl on her high school campus, boldly speaking out for Christ, despite all the teasing. This is what keeps a young man pure until marriage, in spite of the sinful temptation this world has to offer. 

This is what keeps the missionary going, pouring herself out, and loving until there's nothing left. This is what keeps the pastor preaching truth, on the days when nobody shows up.

This is what keeps us lifting our hands, singing songs of praise, and seeking His face in the midst of our dry seasons.

When we cry frustrated tears, and it feels like Heaven is silent, we choose to press on;
"I will follow You anywhere Lord. Where else can I go? You are the One who has the Words of life. Where You go I'll go, You are my God and my King, and my life is yours forever!" 

Just like Ruth, we must daily make the choice to be committed to our King. 

Ruth and Naomi took the long journey from Moab, back to Bethlehem; despite all the questions, pain and bitterness. 

What they didn't know is that God had something absolutely beautiful in store for them. Just up the road, a grand adventure was about to unfold. 

The same is true for you, sister! The desert isn't going to last forever. This road isn't going to lead you to more disappointment and pain.

If you're following Jesus, keep moving forward.
This is only the beginning of the story! The Author is weaving together a most beautiful tale! All it takes, is a few more steps down this dusty road. The page is about to turn, and an exciting chapter will begin! 

Once the two arrived in Bethlehem, things didn't look much better. They were still hungry, they still had to do life, and they still hurt on the inside. 
The only upside to their scenario, was that they arrived just in time for the barley harvest. 
Naomi advised Ruth to choose a field, settle her attention there, and start gleaning. 
The fields were full of harvesters, hustling and bustling around, leaving an ample amount of grain behind for widows, orphans, and strangers in Israel. Those who had nothing were free to glean and take home whatever they could find left over. 

Ruth entered the field of a man named Boaz, and he expressed much kindness and favor towards her. She returned home with her hands full, carrying more than enough for both her and Naomi. Boaz promised that she could stay there, gleaning as much as she needed, until the harvest was over. 

The Lord is so faithful to provide for us, even in the midst of our most dry and desperate seasons. When we glean in the fields of our Lord, feasting on His Word, there is always more than enough. The Lord's generosity is overwhelming. His kindness is too much to process. His love leaves us speechless. 

Sister, if you are trapped in a season of feeling alone or discouraged, it's time to head out into the field. 
God's Word is RIPE and ready for you to glean from! He desires to minister to you, feed your heart, water it, and refresh your soul. The Lord doesn't want you to feel orphaned and widowed. He wants to generously provide for you; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You are His princess, and He cares so deeply for you! He has so much to give. All you have to do is step into His presence and receive it. 

The Lord is faithful to give you everything that you need. But there comes a time in a girls life where she must step into the Royal Throne Room of the King, and boldly petition Him for things that she desires and dreams about seeing unfold in the future.  

Truth is, Ruth couldn't live off manna forever. Harvest season was nearly over, and Naomi wanted to make sure that she was thinking of the future. 
Ruth said, "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.” (3:1-4) 

Boaz was in a special position to possibly rescue Ruth from her widowed state. As a unique family member called a "Kinsmen Redeemer", he had the ability to redeem everything that was broken and shattered in her life. Jesus can do the same for us! 
On the cross, Jesus offered the free gift of redemption for anyone who receives it. 
On the cross, Jesus completely destroyed the curse and written code against us {Col 2:14}, and opened up the gates of Heaven! He has promised every resource of Heaven {Check out Ephesians 1:3}, but we must ask!
Jesus said, "Until now you have asked for nothing in my name, ask and you will receive so that your joy may be full." {John 16:24}  

It took boldness for Ruth to enter the threshing floor in the middle of the night and risk it all by laying down at Boaz's feet (an act of submission). We must possess the same bold faith when we enter the courts of the King, by making our requests known with whole-hearted faith! It is impossible to please God without faith. 

But how can a girl have faith and expect better things for the future, when in the past, everything hasjust crashed down around her? 
When life has been difficult in the past, hope deferred tries to make our heart sick, with thoughts of discouragement like, "I've been stuck in this situation for so long. I don't know how things are ever going to change, I feel like God isn't even listening to me anymore." 
But hope must rise up in our souls as we encounter our Kingsmen Redeemer. We must pray with the strength we have left,

"Lord, fill me with hope! You have promised to care for every detail in my life, and You have been faithful to provide all I need, but these dreams stirring inside of my soul feel so impossible.
I desire to see You move in my life in such a mighty and powerful way, so that it's totally undeniable that it was You! I'm asking for You to do the impossible, by making these God-sized dreams come true! 
I know that a desire fulfilled is a tree of life, so encourage me Lord, and help my unbelief! Strengthen me when I get weak, and so tired, and don't feel the desire to fight for these dreams. Don't let the lioness of courage inside of me shrink back in fear. Remind me that You are the King of the jungle! I will NOT be afraid because my Daddy is King. 
Raise me up to be all that You've created me to be, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Give me the courage to fight for the rights of all who are destitute, for the poor, the needy, and those who are in much worse situations than I am. FIll me with Your Spirit of boldness! I give You my brokenness, and ask for deeper healing. Be my swift strength. (That's what the name "Boaz" means!)
My soul clings to You, and my heart hopes in You alone. I know You will not disappoint me!"

In Ruth's story, Boaz was faithful to ride in and save the day. Just at her lowest point, He proved himself faithful. He abundantly answered her request and happily took Ruth as his wife, redeeming all that was lost. They had a son, and Ruth was no longer unfruitful. Her heart was full and satisfied.  Naomi was also so full of joy as she welcomed her grandson into the world.  

Sweet sister, the Lord has GOOD things in store for you. His plan for you is more beautiful than you could ever dream. Don't listen to the voice of deception that says, "It's hopeless."

Just like Ruth, you are on a journey. Whether you're just leaving Moab, the land of heartbreak; gleaning at the field of God's goodness; mustering up the courage to make a Kingdom Request, standing in the place of faith that He will come through; or rejoicing because your Boaz has blessed your life with joy ... the journey you're on is beautiful. Embrace every moment and bless the Lord with each breath, because no matter where you're at, the King is forever faithful!








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