Tag Archives: Ruth

Connected Stories

Source: Steve Czajka via Flickr
Source: Steve Czajka via Flickr

The sons of Judah:
Er, Onan and Shelah. These three were born to him by a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shua. Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar bore Perez and Zerah to Judah. He had five sons in all.
1 Chronicles 2:3 (NIV)

The first section of the record that the scribe penned was following the family line from Adam through Noah to Abraham and Israel. Now the scribe lists out the twelve tribes of Israel, but notice that the scribe immediately moves to the tribe of Judah and ignores the other eleven tribes. Judah was David’s tribe. It was the tribe from which God established His throne.

Often in reading the chapter each day and writing these blog posts I find myself focused in on the micro details of something in the chapter. There’s some little word, phrase, detail or nuance that resonates with me that morning and with where I find myself on life’s road. When reading the long lists and genealogies I also pay attention to the small details that the scribe inserts about certain individuals. I ask myself, “Why did he mention that little detail when he said nothing about all these other people?” Today, however, I found myself thinking about this family tree on the macro level:

  • The long line of descendants tie the stories together. When reading God’s Message we often think about the stories and characters from different eras and ages to be disconnected as if they are random snapshots from different times in history, but when you step back and look at them through time and family line we see that they are all connected. It’s all one storyline and one family. We read the book of Ruth and the touching story of her marriage to Boaz, but we forget that Ruth was Kind David’s great-grandmother.
  • Because God told David that his throne would be established forever, the subsequent generations knew that Messiah would come from David’s line and from the tribe of Judah. When Matthew and Luke write their biographies of Jesus and make claim that Jesus was the Messiah, they knew that their Jewish readers would immediately question Jesus’ claim based on his family tree. That’s why Matthew and Luke trace Jesus’ pedigree back to David, and why the Christmas story of the census that sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem was so critical to the larger storyline. Bethlehem was the “City of David” and Jesus, the Messiah, was born in David’s home town. The story of Jesus is intricately woven into to the story of David.
  • There were eleven tribes left out of this list. Siblings don’t abide favorites and the fact that the tribe of Judah was getting the better end of this monarchy thing was not lost on the other tribes. Keep in mind that Judah made David their king long before the rest of the tribes signed on. Keep in mind that Absalom’s rebellion was rooted in powerful individuals from the other tribes while it appears that those of the tribe of Judah maintained their steadfast support of David. Keep in mind that once David’s grandson takes the throne the nation will split in two along these same tribal lines and years of civil war will follow.

Even in our own stories, it is sometimes good to step back and look at things at a macro level. What’s the story of my life? How, if I can see it, does my story connect with the Great Story? What are the overarching theme’s of my story? Who are the main characters of my life epic? Can I see individuals in my story (family, friends, teachers, mentors, spouses, children) who fit classic archetypes?:

  • Innocent
  • Orphan
  • Hero
  • Caregiver
  • Explorer
  • Rebel
  • Lover
  • Creator
  • Jester/Fool
  • Sage
  • Magician
  • Ruler

Today, I’m thinking about my story on a macro level and musing on the larger, connected story being told through my journey. I hope you’ll think about yours. Perhaps over a cup of coffee, a good meal, or a pint we can swap stories.

The Legacy of Family

Salmon - Boaz - Obed
Salmon – Boaz – Obed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:17 (NLT)

My grandparents came of age as the Great Depression hit America. Times were hard and both my maternal and paternal grandparents got married quickly in small ceremonies with nothing but the official who married them and a pair of witnesses. My Grandpa Vander Well told me that he and my grandmother got married the weekend he finished up his teaching certificate at Iowa State University. My grandmother had traveled to Ames to see him graduate.

When they returned home to northwest Iowa, they did not tell anyone they were married. My grandmother lived with her elderly father. He getting up there in years and her was an alcoholic. Family tradition says that he could be quite a handful. My grandmother lived with him to take care of him, and I can only surmise that there was some fear in telling him about the marriage and what it might mean to leave him and who then would become responsible.

After a couple of months being secretly married, Great-grandpa Bloem asked my grandmother, “When are you going to marry that Herman Vander Well?” My grandmother told her father, “I already did,” and proceeded to tell him about their marriage in Ames months before. His reply: “Well then, get the hell out of my house!”

I love old family stories. They give us a glimpse into the people and the systemic family dynamics that were the foundation for what we experienced as children. They provide context for our own lives.

In today’s chapter we learn that the story of Ruth and Boaz is the story of King David’s great-grandparents. This story is David’s family story that I’m sure he heard told as a child. Once David became king and the great monarch of a unified Israel, I’m sure that interest in his family and in the fascinating story of Ruth grew. It was eventually written down. We’ve seen in recent weeks how interest in the affairs of Royals capture the attention of the masses as Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandson was born.

Today, I’m thinking about Ruth and Boaz and their story. I’m thinking about my own life story. How might it resonate with and impact the generations that, God willing, might follow after me? I’m thinking about the fact that just as my Grandparents coming of age in the Depression helped shape my own life experience, how might my life and times shape the experience of my own grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

Striving and Awareness

Ruth, Naomi and Obed. Pen and brown ink over p...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for.  Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—  Ruth 3:1-3a (NLT)

As I read through the story of Ruth, there is no doubt that something was clearly happening between Ruth and Boaz. Ruth chooses to gather from Boaz’ fields. Boaz shows Ruth kindness and Ruth finds herself returning to join Boaz’ harvest each day. I find it fascinating that Naomi saw what was happening. Perhaps it was simply an old Jewish lady seeing that Boaz had the hots for Ruth and taking a chance to play matchmaker, but I believe that Naomi was a wise woman. She was aware, and she discerned that this was a specific moment in which God’s hand was moving in their lives.

Over the past several years Wendy and I have experienced the pain and frustration of striving to make things happen in life only to be disappointed time and time again. We have also, even in recent weeks, experienced being aware that God’s hand is moving and discerning that things are happening as a part of God’s great story.

This morning I am contemplating the places of life in which I am striving, and the places in life in which I am aware things are happening. God, grant me the wisdom to know when to strive, and when to stop striving. Grant me the awareness to sense when you are moving – to discern my role and to play my part well.

All In

2012 06 02 Becky & Courtneys Wedding144But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)

I am reminded this morning of Wendy’s and my wedding. These sentiments of Ruth were part of Wendy’s wedding vows to me. They are framed and hang on the wall of our bedroom. I don’t know if Wendy realizes how often I look at them hanging in our bedroom and think about our vows to one another. I  know for a fact that marrying a recently divorced man with two teenage daughters was not her plan or desire. It was not at all what she had envisioned waiting for all those years. In taking up Ruth’s vow, she pushed all of her chips to the center of the table. She was all in.

Looking back at the journey since that wonderful New Year’s Eve wedding I can see just how Wendy has made good on her vow in countless tangible ways. She has been all in with Taylor and Madison, all in with my parents and my siblings, all in with our nephews and nieces, with friends, with work, with the Cubs and the Vikings, with everything. Her love and commitment has made it easy for me to reciprocate and choose to be all in with her, her family, and her friends.

I have come to appreciate that choosing to go all in when it comes to life relationship is not as easy or as comfortable as it appears. All of the pithy Pinterest quips and quotes in the world cannot inspire away the tragedies and messes of daily life together. When we are young and naïve we can scarcely understand the weight of it. Now as I am older and look back on the tragedies which lie in the wake of my own naïveté, I am all the more grateful and impressed with those like Ruth and Wendy who have the wisdom and experience to understand the gravity of their gamble and still choose to go all in.