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John Maxwell said, “We overestimate what we can do in a day; we underestimate what we can do in a year.” In the case of parents, I think we do the same thing: we lose sight of the big picture when we get bogged down in the details and the pressures of each day. As a result, many times we are unaware of the long-lasting rewards that come from our daily obedience and God’s eternal faithfulness. This was never more true than in the fantastic love story of Ruth + Boaz.
Last week we looked at the history of Pentecost and what took place 50 days after the Passover, we saw a picture in the Old Testament that was fulfilled in the New Testament. The Jews saw this too. In the Hagiographa (Holy Writings), they picked one of the books of the Old Testament to read at each of the annual Jewish feasts, and the Book of Ruth was selected for Pentecost. I think this was because Ruth herself is in essence a “harvest” of God’s blessing. She is the firstfruits of the non-Jewish people whom God has engrafted into His holy family.
The story of Ruth’s coming into God’s family is birthed out of heartache. Elimelech and Naomi live in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread,” but it was a time of famine; Elimelech’s name means “God is King,” but Israel had no king and everyone lived for themselves; Naomi’s name means “pleasant,” but her days were bitter (see Judges 21:25; Ruth 1:1-5).
After Elimelech and his two sons die, Naomi changes her name to Mara (which means bitterness), and yet she hears “that the LORD had come to the aid of His people by providing food for them” (1:6) and she decides to return to Bethlehem. She counsels her daughters-in-law to remain with their families in Moab, but Ruth decides to cling to Naomi.
In the face of utter hopelessness, Ruth could have chosen what was familiar—her family, her homeland, her gods—but instead she chose to cling to Jehovah.
Perhaps when she heard that Jehovah had come to the aid of His people she realized, “I’ve never heard of Chemosh coming to the aid of his people. We sacrifice to him but he doesn’t do anything for us. This Jehovah cares for His people. I will put my faith in Him.”
Ruth’s first step of obedience triggers a whole series of events, starting with one that the writer of this story introduces by saying, “As it turned out, Ruth found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz.”
But this is no accident—God oversees and directs all of the details. All of history is His story. God is in charge of the tiniest of details: even down to directing Ruth to the right barley field. Ruth’s trust in Jehovah, her obedience in following Him, set things in motion that God had planned, just as Paul explained in Romans 8:28.
Moms, at the end of the story of your life, you will look back and see so many as-it-turned-out moments. But that means you are living in an as-it-turned-out moment right now.If you believe God is overseeing the details of your life, then every momentis divinely orchestrated by Jehovah, every moment is strategic, every moment is God-directed. You must remain daily obedient to God.
Don’t underestimate the legacy of God’s provision that is being established every single day that you remain obedient in following Him. Look at the amazing way God used Ruth and Boaz in the family tree of Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:16-22; Matthew 1:1-6).
Moms, your obedience today is preparing your children—and their future generations—for them to experience God’s provision in a coming famine (see Amos 8:11; Psalm 91).
Of course, Ruth can’t give birth to Obed without there being a father, which is why the story is called Ruth + Boaz. On Father’s Day we’ll look at the integrity of Boaz that made this possible too, so please make plans to join me then.
Hannah only appears in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, but her legacy thunders through her son, and its rumblings continue to reverberate today. At first glance, it seems somewhat ironic that Hannah’s name means grace (undeserved favor) because we tend to think of a grace-filled person as quiet and unassuming. We don’t typically think of grace as thundering, but indeed it does!
Notice 3 P’s from Hannah’s life—
Hannah is grace personified. She didn’t crumble because of Peninnah’s taunts, nor did she compromise on her heart’s prayer because of Elkanah’s compliments. She never responded verbally to either Peninnah or Elkanah, but she took all her anguish to God in prayer.
Hannah is persistent in prayer. Hannah lives out the definition of importunity—unswerving, unabated, persistent prayer. The Bible tells us, “year after year…in bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord … she kept on praying to the Lord.” Notice an important contrast: Peninnah means jewels (from earth), while Hannah means grace (from God). God wants to give us answers that are eternal.
Hannah is piously reverent. Three times Hannah called herself a servant. She is respectful to the high priest Eli even when he falsely accuses her of being drunk. After Eli assures Hannah that God is going to grant her prayer request, notice her reverent actions—she broke her fast, her face was no longer downcast, she worshipped before the Lord, and she and Elkanah tried again to get pregnant.
Hannah’s anguish drove her to God. Year after year her bitterness of soul kept her in God’s presence. And after God answered her prayer, her rejoicing continued to keep her in God’s presence. She was importunate in prayer.
But also notice that God was silent while Hannah prayed year after year. Oswald Chambers says,“God’s silences are His answers. … Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong [this wasn’t Hannah’s case], others because they are bigger than we can understand.”
God was going to give Hannah a son, but the time wasn’t right yet. God needed a strong man in a dark time, and it wasn’t dark enough yet.
Israel had to sink into even deeper darkness. While Samuel was still a young man, the Israelite army was defeated, Eli and his two sons all died, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord was captured. This prompted Eli’s daughter-in-law to name her son Ichabod—God’s glory has departed.
This darkness allows Samuel to lead the people into a revival and then on to victory (1 Samuel 7:3-10). But notice how God responded to Samuel’s revival prayer—the Lord thundered with a loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.
God’s response was a fulfillment of Hannah’s prayer. After God answered her and gave her a son, Hannah’s song of rejoicing foretold God’s response that was coming years later in Samuel’s revival—“It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High WILL thunder from heaven….”
Hannah’s song of rejoicing after years and years of bitter, importunate, persistent prayer was prophetic—and God’s thunderous answer to Hannah’s prayer is still rumbling today!
Moms, don’t stop praying! God wants to answer your prayer. The Holy Spirit will help you pray (Romans 8:26). God’s timing IS coming. He will thunder His thunder in answer to your persistent prayer!
“All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother.” —Abraham Lincoln
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” —George Washington
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln
“The foundations of national morality must be laid in private families. In vain are schools, academies, and universities, instituted, if loose principles and licentious habits are impressed upon children in their earliest years. The mothers are the earliest and most important instructors of youth.” —John Adams
“The fundamental truths reported in the four gospels as from the lips of Jesus Christ, and that I first heard from the lips of my mother, are settled and fixed moral precepts with me.” —Abraham Lincoln
“The devil never reckons a man to be lost so long as he has a good mother alive. O woman, great is thy power!” ―Charles Spurgeon
“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” ―John Wesley
“Your motherhood is in God’s sight holier and more blessed than you realize.” —Andrew Murray
“God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers.” —Jewish Proverb
“An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.” —Spanish Proverb
“To be a mother is the greatest vocation in the world. No being has a position of such great power and influence. She holds in her hands the destiny of nations, for to her is necessarily committed the making of the nation’s citizens.” —Hannah Whitall Smith
“Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes
One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Momma, why are some of your hairs white?” Spotting a teachable moment, her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for while and then asked, “Momma, how come all of grandma’s hairs are white?”
Mom, you have earned every one of those gray hairs or wrinkles through your loving care for us!
Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life. (Proverbs 16:3)
The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. (Proverbs 20:29)
Mom, your love for us can be summed up in one verse—Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
And the Apostle Paul’s words to a young preacher are just as true for Moms as they were for Timothy: Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)
Don’t give up, Mom! You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)
What has God promised you about your family? Has He said your whole family will call on Jesus as their Savior? Then persevere in that. Has He said that your prodigal child will come home? Then persevere in that. Despite the odds, despite the obstacles, despite the setbacks, keep on loving them and praying for them. It IS making a difference!
Here’s an encouraging biblical example of a little-known Mom’s prayerful influence on a son that is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ…
Keep persevering in prayer, Mom. Your prayers ARE making a difference!