Chapter Ten: “Sitting Tight for Mr. Right” Ruth 3:12–18
Whether we’re standing in line, sitting on hold, or parked in the carpool line, life can sometimes feel like one big waiting room.
1. a. Boaz asks Ruth to wait until morning (Ruth 3:13). Naomi asks Ruth to wait until Boaz settles the matter (Ruth 3:18). In what area of life are you waiting right now?
I was a fine waitress back in the day, but I’ve never been a good “waiter.” Even now, as I look through my current projects and plans, I can’t find anything specific that I’m waiting for, mostly because I’m impatient and tend to make things happen rather than wait for things to happen.
If the Lord closes a door, I immediately try a window, a skylight, a transom—whatever it takes to keep moving. This is not one of my lovelier qualities, especially considering how often the Bible encourages us to simply wait:
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7
”It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26
Patiently? Quietly? Oh dear.
How can others assist you in the process?
My sweet Bill has tried to teach me the virtue of waiting, of resting, of trusting in God’s timing. When he points out how my unwillingness to do so affects the people I love, that definitely gets my attention, and I put on the brakes.
But stopping isn’t the same as waiting. A racehorse at the starting gate may be momentarily held in place, but he’s so anxious to be off he’s literally chomping at the bit.
Are you willing to rest in God’s sovereignty while you wait?
That’s really the question, isn’t it? Running ahead comes from a fear of being left behind, neglected, forgotten. (Ouch. That cuts painfully close to the bone.)
Resting and waiting both revolve around the word sovereignty. Knowing God is in charge. Knowing God can be trusted. “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you.” 2 Samuel 7:22
1. b. In Psalm 38:15, David wrote with confidence, “I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.” Clearly, God keeps us waiting for some good purpose. What qualities might waiting build into our character?
The obvious one is patience, which Henri Nouwen describes as “the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full.”
Compassion for others is another quality formed in stillness. “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other,” Mother Teresa reminds us.
See if Psalm 130:5 and Isaiah 26:8 offer some direction.
While we’re waiting, Psalm 130:5 gives us somewhere concrete to look: to his Word, our source of hope. When I post verses on Facebook and Twitter, I’m not trying to impress people; I’m trying to encourage them. It’s helpful to know that we’re not waiting in vain and we’re not waiting alone.
As for Isaiah 26:8, those closing words are so powerful: “your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Oh! To want nothing more than the Lord’s name and his fame to go forth, to care nothing for my own name, my own fame. I’m not there yet. But I long to be.
2. a. While they’re stretched out on the threshing floor all through the night, Boaz and Ruth must also wait in another sense, to “avoid not only sin, but scandal,” as Matthew Henry put it. If you’re in a situation where you can’t flee temptation yet have to resist it, what can you do to make the time pass without giving in?
For this exercise to be of value, I’ll recall a specific situation—one very much like this one. Bill and I were newly engaged when I visited his apartment, seventy miles east of my place. Rather than drive home late that Friday night, I slept on his couch—fully dressed and utterly aware of my beloved snoozing away in the next room.
I was a grown woman, with a promiscuous past before I embraced the grace of God. How did I resist the urge to slip into my betrothed’s bed?
Physically: I closed his bedroom door and left a light on in the living room.
Mentally: I did my best not to picture him, not to imagine his voice whispering in my ear, not to focus on our future marriage but on our present singleness.
Emotionally: I reminded myself of all the honorable things I loved about him: his integrity, his trustworthiness, his godliness, his kindness, his faith.
Spiritually: I prayed fervently, asking God to turn off my vivid imagination and help me sleep, which the Lord graciously did. Whew.
2. b. Psalm 37:7–8 offers sage advice for when we’re in a bind. According to this passage, what are…
The two things we should do:
Be still before the Lord
Wait patiently for him
The three things we should not do:
Do not fret
Refrain from anger
Turn from wrath
Which of these will you try first the next time your patience is sorely tested?
I’ve already confessed how hard it is for me to “be still” or “wait patiently.” So, I’m going to make a conscious effort to “refrain from anger.” It’s a bit more proactive. And the old rule about counting to ten still works.
3. a. When you learned that Ruth has no recorded dialogue beyond her morning-after scene, were you surprised? Disappointed?
I’m always a little sad when a character in one of my novels speaks his or her final words. In Ruth’s case, I was definitely surprised when I realized her speaking role had ended. Yet she’s still very much there, present and accounted for, and that’s what matters.
Why might it not be necessary for us to hear from her again?
It’s only fitting that Boaz speak on her behalf. He is her protector, her provider, her redeemer. She has already shown us what a heroine she is. Now it’s Boaz’s turn to let his light shine before men, and so glorify the God of Israel.
3. b. If the first words of biblical characters tell us something about them, perhaps their last words do too. What’s the last thing Ruth says? And Naomi? What significance might you glean from their closing comments?
Ruth’s last words are: “Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.” She appears to be quoting Boaz, though we didn’t actually hear him say those words. They’re hugely significant because they sum up Boaz’s generous character and Ruth’s faithful commitment to Naomi, all in one brief statement. Beautiful.
Naomi’s final words are: “For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.” She proclaims this as if it were a fact, not a mere possibility. As such, Naomi’s words turn out to be prophetic: Boaz does indeed settle things “today.” After all her earlier fretting and whining, it’s wonderful to see this confident Naomi emerge, with her thoughts firmly focused on Ruth’s happiness.
3. c. According to 1 Peter 3:3–4, what makes a woman truly beautiful in God’s eyes?
As a young girl, my daughter memorized this passage. Though she loved to braid her long hair, she wasn’t interested in jewelry and fine clothes (that came later!). It was the second verse that really spoke to her: the beauty of the inner self, “which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
What makes a woman beautiful in God’s eyes? Seeing himself reflected there.
For those of us who are anything but “gentle and quiet” in nature, how we can honor the Lord and the truth of these verses while still being the women he created us to be?
I’m not certain I’ll ever make it all the way to quiet, but lately my friends have commented on how much gentler I’ve become. I don’t honestly see it, but am relieved to know they do. Could be I’m just maturing and my bark is losing its bite. Or it could be a matter of degrees—I’m merely less strident than I used to be! Maybe after all these years of digging in God’s Word, some seeds are beginning to sprout forth. As long as the end result is a positive one, I’m grateful.
Gotta love these sisters who gathered to study The Girl’s Still Got It and dressed in red and yellow—like the book cover—to celebrate my visit. Are they all “gentle and quiet” in nature? No way. Some are bold and forthright, others are playful and like to toss in their two cents, still others are shy and soft-spoken. However different they may be in personality, all of them belong to the Lord and want to please him. That alone makes them beautiful.
Now it’s your turn to leave a comment. Have you learned something new about the Lord this week? About his Word? About yourself? If so, we’d love to hear about it!
Your sister, Liz