JESUS ISN'T WEARING SPANDEX
May 5, 2010
I love the book of Ruth in the Bible, but not because of Ruth and Boaz. Yes, that is a beautiful story of romance and the redemption of a vulnerable young widow (although it is a rather calm, deliberate, dispassionate romance, by Hollywood standards!)
I love the book of Ruth because of the story it tells of broken Naomi and her faithful God. Sure, lovely, young Ruth is redeemed - but, even more amazing, the old, worn out, childless Naomi is redeemed.
Everything Ruth does in this story, she does out of love for Naomi, the woman who introduced her to the living God. She leaves her relatives and her homeland to travel with her mother-in-law to the distant, unfamiliar town of Bethlehem. Destitute, Ruth works tirelessly in the fields, despite the danger of physical abuse, gleaning grain to feed them both.
Their story rises to a climax in the third chapter of the book. Ruth, per Naomi's instructions, lies exposed and vulnerable at the feet of Boaz as he sleeps on the threshing floor. Around midnight, Boaz is startled awake. Realizing someone is lying at his feet, Boaz asks, "Who are you?"
Knowing full well that her bold response equates to an unorthodox request for marriage, Ruth replies, "I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your garment over me, for you are a redeemer." Ruth was very bold indeed - but she was motivated in her boldness, no doubt in part, by love for Naomi. Ruth understood that marrying Boaz would secure rest and safety not only for herself, but also for the mother-in-law she loved. "Spread you garment over me..." - Boaz's garment was sufficient to cover Ruth and Naomi.
Boaz redeems Ruth and, by doing so, reaches out to redeem Naomi also, eventually even providing withered, broken Naomi with a son. I love the way the book of Ruth ends. "A son has been born to Naomi!" They named him Obed, worshipper.
Change gears now, and take a peak into my squirrely brain. I look at every passage of Scripture with at least three questions in mind - What does this say about God? What does this say about Christ? What does this say about me, a child of God through the atoning work of Christ? Maybe that's way overpersonalizing Scripture, but it's how my brain works.
Like Ruth, I have someone I love most dearly in this world, someone living Naomi's broken reality, someone weary and needy and longing for rest. Like Ruth, I lie at the feet of my Redeemer and say, "Spread your garment over me, for you are a redeemer" - all the while praying that His garment is sufficient to cover both me and my beloved. Maybe, after all, this is how we are called to pray for those we love who are hurting or lost.
Often throughout the week, the words run through my mind, "Spread your garment over me...and let it reach to also cover --------." My faith and my prayers will never bring peace or rest or relief to another, but my Redeemer will.
Jesus isn't wearing Spandex (although He does love people in "stretchy pants"!) Scripture assures me He does not wear a skimpy, tight-fitting garment that has to be stretched to just barely - hopefully - cover me, leaving gaps that reveal my shame and expose me to the elements. No, Christ's righteous robe is large enough to cover me and my beloved. Large enough to cover all who are His.
I guess that's why I like the book of Ruth so much - it shows me a big, generous, sufficient Jesus.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. - Isaiah 6:1