Do you ever feel under qualified, inadequate, or too broken to be used by God? The enemy likes to make us believe that we aren’t good enough to accomplish God’s best for our lives. But unfortunately for him, the Bible is filled with stories about people who by worldly standards weren’t adequate enough for the task at hand… but God chose to give them an amazing destiny in Him.
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The story of Ruth is one of my favorite stories of the Bible. Her story actually begins with Naomi and her husband Elimelech. They were Israelites who left their home in Judah because of a severe famine and found a new home in Moab with their two sons. Naomi endured her share of heartache when her husband died. Her sons married Moabite women, but they died as well. She was now alone with her two daughters-in-law… Orpah and Ruth.
With the famine over, the three ladies began their journey back to Judah. On the way, however, Naomi encouraged the girls to return home to their families in Moab. Due to cultural customs, there was undoubtedly nothing for them in Judah. They would potentially be giving up the chance to marry and have children if they continued to follow Naomi. Orpah left, but Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side.
Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.” But 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.” – Ruth 1:14-16 (NLT)
In God’s amazing grace, Ruth did marry again. A family relative of Elimelech named Boaz would become her kinsman redeemer. They gave birth to a son who would be the grandfather of King David and ultimately in the bloodline of Jesus.
Ruth – a Moabite woman – would be a part of the genealogy of Christ.
Ruth was given an amazing destiny from God. Everything could have gone differently in her life. She could have gone home with Orpah. She could have remained unmarried with no children. But God chose her for a purpose and worked everything together for her good. He even blessed Naomi by giving her a grandson to love in her turmoil over losing her own two sons (and her husband!)
So what can we learn from Ruth about fulfilling our God-given destinies?
- Ruth had a loving heart that longed to do the right thing… even if it wasn’t in her own best interest. Traveling with Naomi back to Judah meant leaving her life and family behind in Moab. She also left behind her gods to serve Naomi’s God. It was a major life change that included a major risk… would she ever marry again? Or would she be doomed to live alone with her mother-in-law? It was a risk she was willing to take out of love for Naomi and her heart to do what she felt was right.
- Ruth was committed to her word. She vowed to never leave Naomi, and she never did. She had a right to leave, but even then she honored her commitment to her mother-in-law.
- Naomi had a true friend in Ruth. I can’t imagine being Naomi in this story. She lost her husband and her two sons in Moab. Would I really want this Moabite woman to return with me? Would she be a constant reminder of what I had lost? All things set aside, Ruth was there for Naomi in a way that no one else could be. She knew her loss. After all, she had just lost everything as well, including her husband.
- Ruth was willing to step out of her comfort zone. She left her culture, her family, and her religion; and God blessed her immensely for it. She was one of only a small handful of women listed in the family line of Jesus.
Ruth was the least likely and the least qualified to fulfill the destiny God had placed on her life, but God did not see her that way. He saw her willing heart. What if she had chosen to see herself as inadequate? When I think of Ruth’s story, I am inspired by it. God chooses us when we are willing to step out in faith. We don’t have to be the most qualified… We simply need to be obedient.
The only thing God needs from us to fulfill our destiny in Him is a willing heart.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.