Ruth, Naomi and Faithfulness

Ruth and Naomi3

 

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, where you stay I will will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

Ruth’s husband and his brother were dead. Her father-in-law was also dead. All the men in the family–dead. This was a worrisome time to be a woman. Options were few. When Ruth and Orpah (not to be confused with Oprah) attempted to follow Naomi (the mother-in-law), she told them, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me–even if I had has husband tonight and gave birth to sons–would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

It was not the custom for widows to return to their father’s house. Once they were married off and the dowry was paid, the father was released of his duty to his daughter. To come home as a widow would have added another mouth to feed. Perhaps that is one reason Ruth refused. Initially, Orpah “cried bitterly.” This is such a testament to Naomi’s character, that both her daughters-in-law ached to stay by her side.

We often hear of Ruth and her faithfulness, which is definitely worth mentioning. Her words to Naomi are often repeated at weddings as the ultimate symbol of the truest love. But I often wondered about Naomi and what actions she must have done to warrant such a devotion from her daughters-in-law. Ruth’s speech is a testament to her character, but it is also a testament to Naomi’s.

Dear Jesus, please let me be the kind of woman to warrant such love and devotion–whether from my daughters or my future daughter-in-law. Let them say of me “I will follow you.”

 

 

Women of the Bible: Caught in Adultery

“And your accusers? Where are they? Who is left to condemn you?” He asked me, his eyes gentle, compelling. His hands, still dusty…I could not take my eyes from them. It was something about his wrists.
“No one, my Lord,” I said, my voice hardly a whisper.

***

It was no use denying the truth, to proclaim her innocence: she had been caught.

It was folly to point out the obvious: that it’s impossible to commit adultery by oneself.

Inside her chest, her heart beat wildly. She knew that if the eyes of the law, married was married. There was no divorce and remarriage, covering it all over and beginning again.

She knew the law said, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”

For a moment, her mind pictured her mother–how shamed she would be viewed when she went to the temple, the market. She pictured her father–how he would turn away and deny her existence. She had broken both their hearts.

But still, her lover was not present. He would not be punished, and would gladly send her in his stead. The one she loved–and thought loved her back–was nowhere to be found. All those stolen nights seemed to flow through her fingers like so many grains of sands. Though equally guilty, he would remain innocent in this crime.

How did those who came for her know where to find her? Why did they leave the man untouched, unknown?The shouting, the many hands upon her–she was lucky in her nakedness to have grabbed the sheet from the bed so she wasn’t completely nude in front of these men–in front of THIS man, whose eyes seemed to penetrate to her very soul.

“Teacher! This woman was caught in the act of adultery. What say you? You know what Moses taught.” The men crowded around them, demanding justice, their faces contorted with judgement and haughtiness.

So this meeting was less about punishment for the woman and more about a transparent trap set by religious leaders for Jesus.

It’s likely the first the woman saw of Jesus was his feet. The men had thrown her at him, and she probably lost her footing between the sheer force of their shoving and her attempt to keep covered. Some scholars believe she was fully nude in front of the men and the Savior. In that case, she’d have been trying to cover herself with her hands.

Those feet–they didn’t seem like the feet of any messiah she’d heard about. Dirty, calloused, they showed the wear of many miles of walking those dusty desert roads. These weren’t the manicured feet of a rich man.

Jesus began to write in the dirt with his finger. Many interpretations of this action are out there–that he wrote the verse about adultery in the dirt itself–to remind many of those standing here that technically many of them were guilty of the same offense. Some believe he was writing nonsense, praying to the Father for guidance. Some think he was just stalling–purposely making an awkward moment last–so these men could feel the gravity of their accusations.

I wonder if he wrote her name–reminding her that no matter what, she was loved.

She was treasured. She was his.

We know what came next–Jesus flipped the question. “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Some interpretations say that the word used actually means “without THIS sin,” meaning, “Those of you haven’t done the same thing–y’all can go first.”

Soon, as always, it was just the two of them. I like the think of the story in her place, coming from her thougths.

“And your accusers? Where are they? Who is left to condemn you?” He asked me, his eyes gentle, compelling. His hands, still dusty…I could not take my eyes from them. It was something about his wrists.
“No one, my Lord,” I said, my voice hardly a whisper.

“Then I’ll not condemn you either. But go–and sin no more.”

Jesus wasn’t offering her a free pass, but what he was offering her was unconditional love and forgiveness.

Who of us is without sin? Then let’s go ahead and put those stones away and remember to love one another. We are all just one stone away from judgement.