Finding Our True Happily-Ever-After Story

Ceenu Jebaraj   |   March 4, 2021 

Not long ago, my small group at church decided to share our life stories. The goal that season was to get to know each other better and celebrate God’s faithfulness in our lives.  Although we came from the most diverse backgrounds, it felt just right to step into each other’s stories with a surety that our bonds of unity and purpose would be strengthened. Just as we had imagined, it felt like holy ground. As we shared from our lives - full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, loss and hope, failures and second chances - we were able to trace the loving hand of God that was the common thread in every story

We all have our stories. Our own unique accounts of our lives. They paint a picture of us – some pretty and some not so much. A mixed cocktail that brims with pride in some places and shame and fear at other points. Since we all live in story, it should not surprise us that God also chooses to speak to us through the stories of many like us in Scripture.

Tucked away and hemmed in strategically between giant pillars of Old Testament books, is a love story – of devastation, hope, romance, and redemption. The life of Ruth has been a childhood favourite of mine. As a little girl, I remember sitting wide-eyed by my grandmother’s side listening to her narrating the story of Ruth and Boaz.

Walking into the city of Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, dusty and tired after the long journey from Moab, I wonder what raced through Ruth’s mind.  The odds were piled against her. A woman, no family close-by (except a bitter mother-in-law), a widow, a foreigner (from Moab of all places which made her stick out like a cultural sore thumb), childless, unemployed, poor and still working through the aching grief of losing her husband.

Ruth had every reason to fear for her future. Every reason to doubt the existence of God. And every reason to wish God could wipe her slate clean and simply re-write her story over. In short, Ruth - that new girl in town- was probably at her loneliest and most vulnerable state. There was little reason to look up.

Yet this ordinary woman shows up for life in the most inspiringly extraordinary way. As if not feeling vulnerable enough, she hurls herself into the arms of Naomi’s God with a faith that did not wait to see life in rosy hues before trusting God. The story of Ruth is a prototype of the kind of faith that the early disciples had. So much so that when Jesus said, ‘Follow me!’, they simply left everything and followed him. Even if that meant letting go of the known, safe, rational, familiar, and comfortable. There is just something about this kind of faith that seems to be born out of a quiet assurance that God was the author of their stories, and its direction was unfailingly redeeming and ultimately glorious.

In this faith, Ruth unselfishly steps out to provide for Naomi and her. She finds employment with the rich and respected Boaz. For a woman to labour in farming was competing in a man’s world that was neither safe nor protected by anti-discriminatory work policies.  If she desperately needed to know that the “God under whose wings she had taken refuge” would see her and rescue her, this was that point in her story. And God made sure He affirmed her in word and deed.  In word, it resounded loudly in Boaz’s voice when he blessed her in saying:

“The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge”. Ruth 2:12

She also enjoyed God’s hand of rescue through Boaz’s overwhelming protection, providence and favour.  Her joy must have known no bounds as through faith she now experienced the reality of her story being God’s story. This made her even braver. Could she dare dream that a poor, widowed foreigner woman like her stood a chance at being redeemed through marriage by the kind, noble and wealthy Boaz?

In the final act of Ruth’s story, we see that her past experiences did not keep her from believing that God could bring impossible redemption in her life. In reckless faith, she makes herself most vulnerable in approaching Boaz for marriage. Her faith is immediately rewarded when Boaz displays his willing delight in redeeming her. He puts his act of redemption on grand display for all to see and Ruth’s story ends in a happily-ever-after.

As the curtain falls on Ruth’s story, I cannot but be impressed by the fact that through Ruth’s journeying with God, her ultimate happily-ever-after was secured in Him. The Boaz God had given her was only a pointer to a greater Boaz.  One who would be born many years later in the very same town of Bethlehem but would offer her far greater worth, providence, riches and ultimate redemption through the greatest act of rescue ever known. An act of redemption that just like the one Boaz displayed would be extravagantly on display for all to see. Except it would be incomparably more extravagant.

Ruth leaves us an amazing example of the truth that in surrendering our plans and desires to God, we exchange it for something so much greater. Her story shows us the glories of letting go of everything we hold dear and vulnerably showing up with our broken faith and without pretence. Ruth walks on ahead reminding us that in trusting God’s happily-ever-after, we will truly find ours. For our happily-ever-after is with Him after all.

 

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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Ceenu Jebaraj

Ceenu Susan Jebaraj is a lawyer who lives in New Delhi. She enjoys cooking, baking, reading, impromptu get-togethers and board games with friends. Most of all she loves celebrating everyday-life with her husband, daughter and twin boys who fill her days with joy and laughter.

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