“And it just so happened…”
I love hearing stories that contain this phrase, because most often what follows is an amazing proclamation of God’s provision and faithfulness. The story teller may or may not recognize that Almighty God is the One who orchestrates situations and circumstances of our lives, the good and the bad, in order to reveal Himself and bring glory to His name. Some may consider the “it just so happened” moments as luck, fate, or coincidence, but when it comes to how our God works, everything is providential! God’s unseen hands are sovereignly working in the details of our lives. If you look closely, you can see His fingerprints.
Most of us love those comeback stories! But there have been times when I have been that storyteller, and I would have preferred to bypass the most difficult and painful scenes, especially if I am the main character! I believe that if we intentionally choose to view these difficult times through the lens of faith, we will experience God’s tangible presence in ways we have not before. God loves us and grows us through those valleys and reveals different aspects of His character so powerfully and so personally.
In the book of Ruth (chapter 2) we get an in-depth look at how Jehovah Jireh, “The Lord will Provide”, shows up in power in the lives of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, who were facing hopelessness and much uncertainty about their future.
Can you relate? Maybe even now, you find yourself in a season of despair, wondering how things are going to work out, asking God, “Where are you in all of this?”
Let me assure you, brothers and sisters, He is near, and He is working!
Naomi and Ruth had left Moab and returned to Bethlehem.
And it just so happened to be the beginning of the barley harvest.
Naomi just so happened to have an influential, honorable relative on her husband’s side named Boaz.
Ruth just so happened to find herself working in Boaz’s field!
Boaz just so happened to be overseeing the harvest that day and noticed Ruth.
Consider the first words Boaz spoke to Ruth. “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” (Ruth 2:8-10)
I don’t know about you, but during Sunday’s sermon, Boaz’s words jumped off the page of my Bible as I recognized them as a beautiful echo of the invitations that still exist for us today! It just so happens that Jesus has also invited us to “listen”… to hear His voice… and “follow” Him. (John 10:27) He invites us, and pursues us, to “Come and rest”… stay in His presence… “Don’t go away from here.” (Matthew 11:28) And “If anyone is thirsty, let him come and drink.” (John 7:37)
The Bible is full of “it just so happened” moments. How many can you think of? How often do we recognize these kinds of moments in our lives as providential gifts from God? I am asking Him to give us spiritual eyes to see Him working in the details of our days. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23 NLT)
Like Jesus, Boaz crossed many lines. Most obviously he, a devout Israelite, spoke to a despised Moabite woman, a foreigner, just like Jesus did when he just so happened to travel through Samaria and initiate a conversation with the scorned woman at the well. (John 4) Boaz showed loving-kindness, honor, provision, inclusion, and protection for Ruth just as Jesus did for all the women he encountered in the New Testament.
And He notices YOU! He has a divine purpose for YOU! He is inviting YOU, just like Ruth, to come and take refuge under His wings. When you intentionally receive that invitation to rest in that safe place, near the heart of God, your heart will be comforted (Ruth 2:13), you will be abundantly provided for (v. 14) and protected (v. 15-23).
Boaz even invited Ruth to sit at his table, and it just so happens, Jesus invites ALL of us to come and sit at His table, too. There is no need to RSVP. Just come as you are. He is working all things together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Not to be a spoiler, but in case you didn’t know, Ruth is an ancestress of Jesus! Talk about redemption!
Yes, life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Like in Ruth’s case, apparent tragedies, in God’s providence, can become beautiful, spiritual stepping stones of redemption and restoration. God does not waste anything. He makes beauty out of ashes.
It just so happens… this is how God works!
See you at the table,