This week I’m excited about the release of my latest book, Wisdom from Women in the Bible. Like my two other Giants of the Bible books, it’s written in a narrative form, but it’s still filled with the things that I’ve learned from each featured Biblical character. This time, I focused on female leaders in the Bible, and I got to imagine what it would be like to meet these inspiring women. Here’s just a taste of what you’ll find in Wisdom from Women in the Bible:
RUTH: Follow Your Heart to Find Your Hope
“I greet you in the name of the Living God,” the woman in pink says. “I have been asked to tell you my story. Walk with me.” She walks slowly through the meadow. You and I move alongside her.
“When I married Mahlon,” she begins, “I thought I was the most favored woman in the world.”
The wife of Mahlon—this is Ruth!
“My father arranged the marriage, of course, and I didn’t even mind that Mahlon was not a Moabite like me,” Ruth explains. “I also accepted that his widowed mother would be living in the same house with us. Mahlon was a good man. He was kind, hardworking—and handsome. I hoped for a good marriage. What I did not expect was to love this new family so deeply. As I got to know them, I came to love everything about them: their traditions and customs, and the God they worshipped wholeheartedly. They were my true family, more so even than my own mother and father, to whom I was born.
“We had been married only a short time, so short that God had not yet given us children, when the unthinkable happened. I lost my dear Mahlon. And before my mother-in-law Naomi and I were even finished mourning, Mahlon’s brother Kilion also died. I understand that no one escapes pain or death in life, but this gutted me. Just when I’d found my right place, it was taken away from me. We were alone in the world, with no way to live. In those days a woman couldn’t own property or direct her own affairs. She had to depend on a husband, brother, or father.
“Naomi insisted that Kilion’s wife Orpah and I go back to our fathers’ houses. We had been honorable women, so we knew they would take us back. Orpah left. But I—I felt like I had a huge decision to make. I felt like Naomi was my family. What was I going to do?
“What I decided that day taught me one of life’s most important truths, and now I want to teach it to you.” She stops walking, turns to face us, and says, “Follow your heart to find your hope.”
Following Her Heart
Ruth pauses for a moment, watching us to see if we are listening carefully, taking in what she is trying to help us understand. Then she begins to walk again, with us at her side. And she starts to explain what she means:
“My Heart for Naomi Outweighed Everything Else”
“My decision was to stay with Naomi. Immediately we left Moab for Judah, her homeland. When we arrived in the town of Bethlehem, we had no hope. I could tell Naomi had given up. She thought God had abandoned her. I knew that she had come back home to die. So be it. If she was going to die, I would die with her. I would be buried alongside her, among her people, who were now my people. I didn’t care what happened to me. My heart felt things my eyes could not see, and it knew what my mind could not understand. Naomi had been so good to me, how could I not be good to her?”
“My Heart for Naomi Led Me to Boaz”
“When we got to Naomi’s old homeland, I knew I needed to do something so that we would not starve. God in His loving-kindness told His people to always leave the edges of the fields unharvested for people like Naomi and me. So I went to gather grain during the harvest.
“I believe it was no accident that I ended up in the fields of Boaz. When you make a God-honoring decision with the heart, God guides you with His hand. I didn’t know it, but God had made a way for me. Boaz had already heard about me, and he protected me like I was a member of his household. He fed me and he even gave me extra grain to take back to Naomi.”
“My Heart for Naomi Led Us to Hope”
“When Naomi found out I had spent the day in the fields of Boaz, her relative, she realized God was providing for us. It rekindled her hope and she came alive again. The old Naomi was back. She knew Boaz was a good man, so she told me what to do so that he would become our kinsman redeemer—and my husband. Where once all had looked dark and hopeless, we now possessed a bright future.”
Life Lessons from Ruth
As we walk silently for a while, I think about what Ruth has told us. It must have taken a lot of courage for her to leave her home and everyone she knew to travel to an alien land. In that way, she was like Abraham. She would have been seen and treated like an alien—a foreigner. Despite this, she followed her heart.
When Ruth speaks again, it’s as if she has anticipated my thinking. She says,
“Understand that in God’s Eyes There Are No Outsiders”
“When we left for Judah, I knew I would be an outsider to the Children of Israel,” says Ruth. “But I wasn’t a foreigner to God. He accepted me as a part of His family. And He made it official when Boaz married me.
“Maybe you’ve felt like an outsider at times. Some people feel that way their whole lives, like they don’t fit anywhere, like nobody understands them. Even Jesus was treated as an outsider. The people He came to save didn’t recognize Him or want Him. But you don’t have to be on the outside looking in. God invites you to be a part of His family. All you have to do is say yes to Him, and you’ll be His adopted child. He loves you and wants you.”
“When You’re in Distress, Let Love Motivate You to Change”
“My world fell apart when my husband Mahlon died. I had found my place in the world, and then it was taken away from me. What was I to do?
“What drives you when your situation is dire? Is it fear? Worry? Frustration? Resentment? Bitterness? None of those emotions will take you in the right direction. Instead look for love. Love will carry you forward. Follow your heart.”
“Hold on to Faithfulness Because It Is the Father of Many Blessings”
“I trust God for Who He is, not for what He does. But God rewards faithfulness. I was faithful to Naomi, and God blessed me by directing me to Boaz. Boaz was faithful to God and His Law. When Boaz realized that we were relatives, and that someone in our clan needed to help us, he went to the elders of the town and contacted our nearest relative to see if he would help us. When that man couldn’t fulfill his duty, Boaz took action to redeem our property and care for us. He was faithful to God, and as a result, God blessed both us and him.
“God always makes a way for those who love Him. The guidelines He gave for the harvest blessed us with food. The guidelines He gave for treating widows blessed us with a new family and me with a husband. And of course, that led to my greatest joy of all, giving birth to my son Obed. He became a blessing as he fathered Jesse, who fathered David, Israel’s great king and a man after God’s own heart.
“When you are faithful to God, He will bless you. You may not know how He will do it or when He will do it, but you can always be sure that God is faithful.”
The Prayer of Ruth
Ruth stops and says, “Before I leave you, I want to pray for you. Would that be all right?” We both nod yes.
“God My Redeemer,
“You are faithful and good. You love us and want the best for us. First I pray that my friends would know their own hearts. When they are in doubt or distress, help them to be sensitive to You. Speak to them through Your Spirit, and help them to have the courage to follow where You lead. And I pray that You would always reward them with hope. Amen.”
When we open our eyes, we see that Ruth is smiling at us. “My friends,” she says, “my time with you has come to an end. But your next mentor is waiting for you ahead, outside the gates of the city. Keep walking along this path, and you will find her.” With that Ruth turns and walks back the way we came.
I hope you enjoyed this taste of my new book. It was a joy to write.
Wisdom from Women in the Bible is available here and at participating retailers.