“Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
Ruth 3:18 NIV
Waiting-no one enjoys waiting, am I right? I am learning however, that God has called so many of us to wait. We may be entering a new year tomorrow but many people today, the last day of 2022, are filled with unanswered prayers and beginning 2023 with some scary unknowns. Timing, as they say, is everything. A season of waiting right now can especially frustrating, not just because it’s during a holiday season, but it stems right after being locked down in a world pandemic nearly three short years ago. Having normalcy stripped away from all of us and the inability to have any type of stability for nearly two years, left many, myself included, exhausted and if we’re being honest, impatient. To this day, I prefer grocery pick up and drive-thrus over walking into brick and mortar establishments because suddenly the world just got too “peoplely” and I was a lover of people prior to Covid. Add in that this past week was supposed to be a season of joy and being hit with unknowns that rob your peace just makes waiting all the more challenging.
Being called to waiting, especially on the tail end of a world wide lockdown or during a holiday season, should come to no surprise though. I think God’s best endurance lessons come when we can see the finish line yet walk through a season of delays that keep us from crossing it. The Old Testament is filled with examples of God giving people directions/promises and then making them wait. Abraham knew of Isaac 25 years before Isaac was born. David waited 15-20 years from the time Samuel said he would be king to the time he actually wore the crown. Joseph waited approximately 20 years also for his dream to come true. Each endured much hardship, struggle and interruption during their waiting. The world may have been created in six days but most of God’s promises came to pass after very long periods of trials, tribulations and waiting. Even Ruth had to wait for her kinsman redeemer.
Ruth was a Moabite widow, who followed her mother-in-law back to Judah. Although this was her in-laws homeland, this was a strange place for Ruth. Ruth was only married 10 years before she became a widow. In that span she lost her father-in-law and brother-in-law also. Losing a husband and both of her sons, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, suffered the most. I can’t imagine that Ruth or Naomi realized this loss was leading to a waiting season. But that’s exactly what the rest of Ruth’s story will show us.
While traveling back to her home town, Naomi advises her two daughters-in-law to return to Moab. Naomi is so full of grief that she believes she has nothing left to give either of these two women. Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law does go back. But Ruth responds with this: “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. 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 NIV) Thus, Ruth follows Naomi to Judah.
In the second chapter of Ruth, she decides she must go to work. Unbeknownst to her, she happens upon a field, owned by a family member of Naomi’s. She doesn’t apply for a job though, she enters the field for gleaning. Gleaning is not the same as harvesting. Gleaning was done by widows, the poor and destitute and it was an act of gathering the scraps of the harvest the workers did not pick up. Whatever they gathered they could take home. Gleaning was not a job, it was an act of survival. It was also dependent upon the land owner allowing one to glean. On her first day, she meets the owner, Boaz, who extends kindness and welcomes her to continue to glean in only his field. When she returns home with an overabundance of harvest, Naomi is not only surprised but overjoyed learning about Ruth’s encounter with Boaz. Naomi tells Ruth to do as Boaz said and continue to glean only in his field.
Chapter 3 begins with Naomi advising Ruth to show herself available to Boaz. If you look up timelines for Ruth’s story you can presume at least one year has passed from the time Ruth meets Boaz to the time she lays at his feet at the threshing floor. At first read you may think this all happened during the same harvesting season but Ruth 2:23 tells us Ruth gleaned from Boaz’s field until the harvest was finished. Chapter three begins with Naomi telling Ruth to go to Boaz and presumes she will find him in the threshing floor because it is harvesting season once again. If you know how the rest of the story turns out, then you know Ruth obeys Naomi, catches Boaz off guard and then waits one more day for him to negotiate for her with someone else who had more rights to her. When it comes to waiting, Ruth waited over a year for God to redeem her circumstances and restore her family. Ruth’s total waiting, however, was over 10 years because her first husband was not the man she would bare children with nor was he part of the bloodline that led to Jesus. But Boaz was and when Ruth bore Obed, she fulfilled that link in Jesus’ family tree lineage.
None of us should compare our waiting stories to those in the Bible though-at least not the timelines. If God is calling you to wait, as difficult as it may be, waiting will be your best option regardless of the length of time you’re called to wait. The question remains, what should we do in the waiting. Abraham, David and Joseph lived their lives and fought many obstacles during their waiting season. Ruth grieved, went to work and cared for her mother-in-law. Some people believe you should pour all of your energy into praise and worship during your waiting season. Others would tell you to serve God more or do things to better yourself. But God isolated Ruth and at times, He also isolated David and Joseph. So don’t be surprised if God not only calls you to wait, he cancels your busyness and isolates you too.
If you’re a control freak like me, and you center your life around staying busy, you not only dislike your plans being changed but you have no idea how to “be still.” Isolation is not your favorite comfort zone either. If you’re also an overthinker like me, you may deeply struggle with shutting off your brain to even focus on hearing from God. Silence fills you with doubt, worry, and leads to more overthinking. As your impatience grows, you may get one word answers. This is not God being cryptic or playing games. This is simply His way of saying, “wait and trust.”
God’s waiting is never futile and there is always a lesson of trust in every waiting season. Trusting doesn’t always come easy to some of us though. Especially for those who have been betrayed by so many or have accepted the belief that God’s best is the opposite of what we think is best for our lives. To add to it, God doesn’t give us directions in how to trust. He simply just says to do it. Pray. Wait. Trust. Three simple words that are easy to God and nearly impossible for you and me. But, if we, like Ruth, can wait to see what will happen and trust that God is settling the matter, we can find peace to endure the waiting season, no matter how long He calls us to wait.