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
For question 3- I think that both Ruth and Naomi’s last words show their care for someone other than themselves- we’ve already seen this with Ruth, but not so much with Naomi. I think the whole focus of the book now shifts to Boaz- on his provision and his plan. Maybe we should shift our focus to Jesus- His provision and His plan! We can put our trust in our Kinsman-redeemer! Thanks again Liz for sharing your gift with all of us!
“Maybe we should shift our focus to Jesus…” Brilliant, Tina! So often we look at our own needs, our own troubles, instead of looking at the Lord, who alone meets our needs and solves our troubles. Thanks for adding your voice this morning!
I’ve learned that I’m still a work in progress. God isn’t finished with me yet. Patience and waiting are always a bit of a struggle. I think I’ve learned to have a more gentle spirit and ‘slow to anger’ approach than I used to have. But, boy, do I see my young self in my children and their ‘fly-off-the-handle’ reaction to situations! I know God isn’t finished with them either and as they (we!) grow, mature and delve into the Word, will our Christ-likeness manifest.
Will be in PA to be enlightened by your words tomorrow, Liz! Thanks for being our favorite encourager!
Nothing is more humbling than seeing our weaknesses and flaws reflected in our children. As you wisely say, God isn’t finished with them OR with us.
His patience is boundless and purposeful: “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…” (2 Peter 3:15). See you in Hershey, dear Betsy!
What a wonderful time listening to your Ruth study LIVE this weekend! Thank you for being there and for the hug. Love you, Liz!
LOVED meeting “our Betsy,” live and in person! :>)
I so needed to hear this today. I’ve been in a holding pattern for so long and this gave me a shot in the arm. So tearfully I say that I will wait upon The Lord to renew my strength so that I might mount up with wings like an eagle. I need your strength Lord to stay put!
How sweet your tears are to the One who loves you, Jen! Bless you for sharing your struggles with us, and far more, for entrusting your future to God. He is by your side, in that waiting room. Praying for you right now!
My middle name is “fretting” and I need a daily shot of encouragement to wait upon the Lord so he can strengthen me and make my burden light. I am more like Naomi than Ruth. I came to the Lord as a child and have tried to live for the Lord. But it seems I have always fallen short in the eyes of my mother, my brother and sometimes my husband.Thanks again Liz, for your encouraement.
Isn’t it comforting to know that the only opinion that truly matters is God’s? Our family and friends cannot see inside our hearts. But God can. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9). May you be strengthened this day, Becky!
I too need to wait upon the Lord. I can relate to always running ahead and making things fit according to how I want them to be. I am so thankful I can still attain all that God has for me by trusting in Him and for not always knowing all the plans He has for me. I am praying and seeking after the Lord to be that quieter gentle spirit. From Psalm 37 I am going to remember to not fret and get angry, but STOP and be still and wait on the Lord.
I’m glad we’re in this together, Linda. Not sure which one is harder to obey: “Be still” or “Be quiet”! Both sound like wisdom for today. Thanks for sharing your heart.
Patient? Not me. But, the Lord has been teaching me that I must become patient. I must learn to wait on Him. Yes, I am waiting. Waiting to find out what needs to be done about a health problem. Waiting to find out where my husband’s job will take us next. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. And, honestly, scared. Scared not just about these things, but issues that I think are much bigger. Praise God for Biblical examples of men and women who are following God. There are so few real life examples. I fear for the direction our society has turned, and I pray for a revival in our land. Thank-you, Ruth, for sharing your real life struggles and successes. Thank-you, Liz, for doing the same.
You must feel like you are holding your breath at every moment, Laurel. In a sense that’s what all of creation is doing: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23). With all that’s going on, personally and globally, it seems God is moving us forward to that great day of redemption. Timely to be reading Ruth, eh? May we be found as faithful as our ancient sister!
Liz, it seems like I’ve been in a season of ‘sitting and being still and waiting on the Lord” for a while now, in many different areas of my life. I’ve learned not to question Him with the all the whys, but instead to just trust and lean on Him. God gives us times to be still… to heal and bring physical rest, but it’s also a time for growing spiritually and learning to depend on Him fully. I’m learning to treasure the times of rest and my time with Him. However, honestly, the waiting can be hard at times and seem never ending! Praying as I need His strength and patience every day as I “try” to “sit tight.”
Ruth’s identity was mentioned 3 times… wife-widow, Moabite-Israelite, gleaner-bride. Our identities change throughout our lives as well. Daughter-sister, wife-mother. co-worker-boss, etc. Once injuries or medical issue plagued our family, I feared that my identity would change to being someone who’s always injured or sick or a care giver for some who is sick etc. As I look in the mirror, I ask myself “who does God see?” God showed me that my identity comes from Him. I am a child of Christ… and that identity will never change! PTL!
Wow, Sherry. What an exceptional student you are, learning at God’s feet! Thanks for sharing your wisdom here. We need to hear from those who are waiting without despairing. Love your comments about our identity in him. You are spot on: it never changes!
I am encouraged by your comment. God has been teaching me to wait patiently for Him as well. Although we don’t know why we experience things we may not want to experience in our lives, or in the lives of those we love, we really do just have to pray and trust that God will work out everything in his own time, according to His plans. After all, God does want the best for his children. I love how Liz said faith is “Trusting without second-guessing. Believing without demanding proof “. I struggle with second-guessing things I know are true. Last Friday, in the middle of the night, God showed me Job 12:10 “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” It is so comforting to know that God holds us all in his hand.
How incredible, Krista, that the Lord revealed the truth of his Word to you “in the middle of the night”—you’ll remember how important that hour is, biblically! And we’ve also spent time here considering the power of God’s hand. Clearly this is a word from the Lord for you, and now for all of us. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). Waiting, waiting, Lord, trusting you for both patience and peace.
Sherry, thanks for sharing about our identities changing throughout our lives. That is so true. And yes, it sure is good to know who we are in Christ! I too am so happy and blessed to be His daughter….a royal princess forever!
wow! Here I thought I was almost alone on “Be still and Know That I am God. Psalm 46:10. When God spoke that to me I was sure He was talking to someone else. I never shut up. Hehehe. Well, it has been a year! But I have learned so much and God has spoke to me soooo much and if I had been talking _ I might have missed Him. We serve an awesome Lord. I have learned that we can be still and hear His calling, His encouragement, and especially His ways, how He wants us to speak to others, to love with arms wideopen. He is faithful to the broken. I want to hear when He calls, He is a great Father.
“I want to hear when He calls”: that says it ALL, Kathy. Ears open, hearts open, arms open, wallets open…we’re listening, Lord!
lol Bless you my new found friend!
Well dear sweet larger than life big hearted gal Lizzie, your study this AM got me to place my “fretting”, “angry”, & “wrathfully” heart (over election, results, way of tabulating, electoral college,etc) to STOP, Rest and Be Still ( and know that God is God) if you could take a mess like a Moabite widow’s life and make her cherished, loved by Boaz & the town folk, He can make Gold out of this Straw (which both political parties mascots Eat) and I can go on with the items, issues, needs of my life. I had just finished a phone conversation with my big sis in Texas who encouraged me over the loss of our candidate, and family values he stood for, to put my energy into the work ahead of me, step by step, little by little, and she needed to go to do her own study of the Word. My eye fell on your FB invite! And here I am, teary eyed, worn but coming to our Lord and asking for faith, hope and love. President Obama, walk cautiously before The Lord, cuz you have more people praying for you!
God is BEYOND good, to give us all a timely word about WAITING and TRUSTING! Margret, you are not alone in your post-election journey from frustration to determination. Pray, pray, pray, my sisters.
Oh Liz, I don’t wait, I fix! Oldest of ten, a critical care nurse, a bible teacher, name the committee and I was on it, cared for my handicapped brother, people sought my advice, I was needed and ran life full throttle.
One year ago in Dec, God abruptly sat me down and I’ve been there since. A ruptured disc L4-L5 and two unsuccessful surgeries later, I’m still navigating this new walk. I lost my job of 37 years, my bible study class, and well it all just stopped. I realize now how much of my identity was in what I did for others. I was stunned to realize how much pride I carried. Financially, I have learned to wait and let Him fill the bank account. The lessons are hard but so essential to growth. He did not injure me but His permissive will allowed this to transpire. All of this pain has to have a purpose and I want to hear His voice and learn.
He must love me very much to go to all this trouble to teach this child new lessons! In retrospect though, I do wish I’d simply sat down and asked…then He wouldn’t have had to go to all this trouble:o)))
Oh, Cathy, clearly you ARE hearing his voice and your ARE learning, and in the process, teaching us all. God does indeed “love you very much,” as his tender care of you demonstrates. May he heal you as only he can!
PS I felt invisible when I lost my job, Liz. It was comforting and humbling to realize that though others may forget me, out of sight, out of mind thing, I am never invisible to my Father. He showed me in so many ways that He never forgets who I am or where I am.
I never get lost and He never misplaces me.
Cathy- Bless you, you’ve gone through so much! I’m glad that you realize how much God does love you! Hang in there! When I read your post I just began praying for you…asking the Lord to hear your cry and asking for you to be encouraged today! Love you sister!
A very good P.S. We are none of us invisible to the One who loves us!
I’m not sure what is helping me more right now, the bible study or the interactions of the blog followers here. Of course, the answer is the LORD almighty, but I get so encouraged by reading of the comments.
My waiting period is for my husband to return to Jesus. He knows the truth, but for some reason he is fighting it. I am just praying and trying to be the best wife I can be. Delving in to God’s word, Bible Study, Small Group, being open with my friends.
I am such a social person and the last few years, all my hubby wants to be social with are his two single (both divorced) drinking buddies. They are nice guys, but they don’t have the best influence over my husband. I want to fight for what is right, but I sit humbly and wait for Jesus to do the speaking, because my grumblings isn’t going to make it all better. God is good, all the time. He will take care of me while I sit and wait. While I pray and wait, While I read his Words and wait. While I am encouraged by this Bible Study and wait. Thanks ladies, for all your sharing.
Waiting, waiting…SO hard, Brandi. Your sisters here are honored to encourage you through that process. I believe your instincts about these “friends” of your husband’s are correct. So is your decision to let God convict your husband, even as you love him unconditionally. As long as you are SAFE under his roof, I’ll pray for you to stay strong and watch God work!
I am with you on this one Brandi!
I too am waiting for my husband to come to the Lord. As a youth he was involved in the church up until his confirmation. Then he quit going. Myself, my family were not even close to being regular church goers. When my husband and i married neither of us were “Christians”. We lived as the rest of the world did … then in about 1994 the Lord started pulling at me (recognized this many years later) decided i needed to go to church to have my children baptized. after this i felt the need to be confirmed and my minister at the time suggested that i do the bethel bible study, there started my journey. My husband used to “taunt” me, not because i threw it in his face, but because the good lord had CHANGED me. This was when I started to pray that he too would turn to the Lord. In 2007 I went to a healing conference in Swanwick England, the Lord absolutely took a hold of me and my life, I came back even more changed. After this I felt the need to start sharing more of my journey with my husband, a new boldness. As we started our trips I would pray for safety as we traveled for the animals and ourselves, we would very seldom see an animal on the road, they were in the ditch or brush. I would share if i had visions/feelings, would talk about prayers for individuals in the community and he would see the outcome. slowly but surely I have become more aware of the Lord working in my husband’s life in small ways … but the most heart warming to me was on our last trip which was a 10 hr drive, best time to witness (lol) … I was sharing with him and he actually commented that he should attend one of our healing services! All I can say is Praise the Lord!! This is a big step and i know that prayer is slowly being answered. I am waiting (patiently) for him to attend church with me …. I know the good lord will lead him back to himself and can hardly wait to be on the ride with him!
Thank you Tina. Your spontaneous prayers touched me and are deeply appreciated! Love you too!
I’m a bit late to the discussion…I read a couple chapters in the past couple of days…
I think what is standing out for me right now is not only the waiting, but the obedience without question. May I wait on the Lord and others with such respect and patience!!
I hear you, Annette. My willingness to be obedient is often based on my having answers to all my questions and concerns first. But that’s not how Ruth rolls. What a woman! What a Redeemer!
After this study and reading the story of Ruth and Boaz I have been working on being more patient with others and I do try to listen to that inner voice saying-wait –trust in the Lord he will do as he has said in his word—they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength—he alone is our refuge and hope in this world and he will be with us in our trials but—we have to learn to wait on him—I’m trying! Thank you for being our teacher and friend.
You can be sure the Lord is pleased with you willingness to learn and grow, Reeda. You are an example to us all!
I am truly blessed by the story of Ruth and Naomi! I am learning to wait patiently as God has been moving in my life and has taken me to new places to trust in Him more in that I don’t know or hold all the answers or facts of what will take place in where He has placed me. I know that God is near to me because He encourages me daily with His Word and with the presence of His Spirit. I have long awaited for my husband to be. I am not married yet but God has spoken a husband to be into my life. God gave me the Book of Ruth about 3 years ago and at first I didn’t understand why He kept giving me this book to keep reading over and over again. But, now where God has placed me and the situation I am in in taking care of my ailing father who had a massive stroke 7.5 years ago, as made me see where this story comes in to play. Yes, God has spoken a husband to be into my life, but in taking care of my dad all of these years with my mom, has shown me how to WAIT. I, at times try to get ahead and try to make things happen or figure them out; but, I end of failing or wearing myself out by doing so. Thank God that He is patient with me and He shows me that He has my husband to be waiting for His perfect timing. I am so thankful that Godly values were instilled into my life as a young girl to keep myself pure for my husband to be. I am now 40 years old and can say that I have kept myself completely pure for my husband to be. Is it easy, NO; but, it will be worth it all in the end. Hearing you speak this past weekend in Hershey, PA reconfirmed that stand I am to take right now beside my parents and where God has placed me. Waiting is hard; but, it is building a character in me that I know is truly God-built because of the “waiting period” I have gone through and still am. God will provide in His timing and His ways! Thanks for being a blessing!
Oh, Tracy, what a true RUTH you are! And what a beautiful example of waiting on the Lord, trusting him to provide your Boaz, and serving him faithfully where you are. Wow. I loved our time together in Hershey as we unpacked the book of Ruth, and am grateful you’ve shared your comments here.
At the end of each lesson you ask what has been learned and would we share. I find these studies so insightful and introspective, as well. They remind me of how God works in people’s (my) lives and that He is always working for our good. This year I have specifically been understanding God’s unconditional love. I do not have to perform or do anything for His love……it is and will always be there. This has allowed me to have new freedom. We often bring so much of our childhood stuff into our adult lives. I was saved at age 39, became a missionary at 42 , widowed at 44 and remarried at 56. Mother of three young children when widowed. So grateful I was a believer and that I knew it was part of God’s plan for our lives. Knowing I would see my husband again one day, eased the pain of separation. Now married to a Boaz kind of man…..another blessing of God’s. But like all of us, we are working out our lives in Christ until He takes us to himself. Your studies are such an encouragement as we all walk together toward the Light of the World. I am now 65 and so grateful for being one of God’s children. Thank you for your honesty and late hours……you are appreciated.
I am a little behind due to some recent travel, but I had to share the joy that follows a time of waiting.
I waited a long time (according to the time table I had planned for my life) to meet my husband. A Godly man, who prayed with me for our relationship before we had ever shared a kiss. He was well worth the wait, but I certainly did not wait patiently (oh the blind dates, online dating and speed dating horrors!) Lord please forgive me for that! Then when we decided to try to have a family. I spent a year crying out to God begging for a child, some days fully trusting Him, other days in tears wondering what was wrong with me. We finally scheduled an appointment to check for infertility issues and then we found out we were expecting. It turns out, God’s timing was better than our own. During my pregnancy my husband received two raises and was in discussions with his boss about the timing of a promotion (when our son would be six months old). Because of God’s timing, I was able to work with my employers to working part time (I still feel called to work as well) and I am able to be home with my son four days a week. My hope is that the next time God tells me to wait patiently, I’ll do better.
It was my pleasure to see you on tv this morning. I was so captivated by your story telling of Ruth, and even more excited about your book “The Girl Still Got It”. I can’t get to the book store quick enough today — I can’t wait to begin reading. I’m so glad i found you, and look forward to following you on your journey. Thank you for sharing your gift with us — you are a true blessing.
I know waiting patiently is not one of my strengths. At this point, I just want what it seems like everyone else my age already has…a Godly man, a home of my own, and children. When I see my friends with what I want it makes me sad sometimes. When I heard that one of my close friends is going to be a dad in a few months, before I could congratulate him I had to get past my jealousy. I hate that feeling. So, my prayer now is God please answer my requests as your Word says you will, but help me to wait on you. Definitely far from being a Ruth, but I’m trying, which has to count for something.
This chapter and it’s lesson on waiting on the Lord especially blessed me. Like many sisters who commented above, I too am in a season of waiting on the Lord. I, like you, am not a patient waiter. I think that is what the Lord wants me to learn from what I am going through. I want it to be in HIS time and not in my own, because I know that HIS timing is always perfect. And, I want it to be in HIS way because that is perfect, too. Thank you so much for the encouragement to press on…and wait!
I want it to be in HIS time and not in my own, because I know that HIS timing is always perfect. And, I want it to be in HIS way because that is perfect, too. Thank you so much for the encouragement to press on…and wait!