This week I started a new Bible study focusing on the book of Ruth. I’ve always been drawn to the book of Ruth and it’s one of those books in scripture that I return to often. Sometimes for a specific reason, other times just to reread it yet again and feel comforted as one does sitting down with old friends.
I don’t honestly know why Ruth is one of my favorite Biblical characters. Perhaps it is the sweet story of friendship her life tells. Maybe it is the honest portrayal of a tender mother-daughter relationship. Lately, I have returned to if for the tale of a homecoming, since it is home I am missing. But this week, I’m treasuring the story of how one seemingly insignificant girl can be important in God’s story.
I remember the first time I read the book of Ruth. I read it and thought ‘What a beautiful story of friendship’. But then I got to the last sentence and all of a sudden it was so much more than that. You see, Ruth is integral to Christ’s story; to our story.
“…she gave birth to a son…and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Ruth 4:13, 17
See? Ruth is more than just a girl who loved her mother-in-law enough to go back to her land. She is more than the beautiful verse of scripture that goes, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my god” (Ruth 1:16). Without her, there is no David. Without David…well, you know the rest.
The intro to the book of Ruth in The Message puts it beautifully:
In its artful telling of this “outsider” widow, uprooted and obscure, who turns out to be the great-grandmother of David and the ancestor of Jesus, the book of Ruth makes it possible for each of us to understand ourselves, however ordinary or “out of it”, as irreplaceable in the full telling of God’s story. We count – every last one of us – and what we do counts.
We can all feel useless at times, tempted to ask of God, “what use can I possibly be?” We can all feel unimportant, and question whether what we do makes enough of a difference. Are we doing enough? Does it matter anyway? But Ruth tells us that it does. Whatever we do, however small, we count. We are a part of God’s story and we matter.
This is a lesson I needed to be reminded of recently, and so I wanted to represent the importance of it in my Bible. For the first time, I used paint to journal. I have, until now, kept each page of scripture so that all of the words are still clearly visible, even if colored over. But this weekend, I wanted to honor the importance of Ruth’s story by being brave with my journaling. This time, I did not worry if the words of scripture were covered. I painted and I turned the final page of Ruth’s story into art for God. Now, when I look at this page, I will be reminded that just like Ruth, I matter. Just like Ruth, what I do counts. And just like Ruth, I am an irreplaceable part of God’s beautiful story.