Struggles of Joy #4

Chapter 5

Ruth had been gleaning the morning and she hadn’t run into any more problems. She had just bent down to pick up a bit of grain when the people all around her began to talk. She looked up, afraid of what they could be looking at. Had she offended someone? She wracked her mind for something she might have done and how she could mend it.
            Looking up, she noticed that no one was even glimpsing in her direction and her heart’s intense beating slowed. Everyone was waving and yelling at someone walking through the field. She tried to stretch to see who it was, but there were too many crowds of people wanting to see as she wanted to.
            Turning to a gleaner next to her, she asked, “Who is everyone waving at?”
            “Boaz of course!” She gave Ruth an irritated look. “Don’t you know anything? Boaz, the landlord, has returned!”
Ruth looked down, embarrassed once again.
            Why is it that every time my mouth opens, I offend someone? I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!
            She went back to her gleaning, and forgot about the interruption. Hoping to please Naomi with her outcome, she wanted to fill up a few more baskets. Slowly the other gleaners went back to work and she tried to forget about the disruption.
She hadn’t worked long when her ears pricked up because she thought she heard her name. She looked up and searched the area for anyone who looked like he or she might be talking about her. She was just about to give up when she heard the murmurs again. Her eyes whipped to the noise and she saw two men were talking. Determined to find out if they were talking about her, she casually picked up her pace and headed towards the pair.
“She’s a young Moabite woman, staying with Naomi.”
Oh, they are talking about me. What have I done now? I probably offended someone when I looked up and now they'll kick me out of the field. Maybe I was better off staying in Moab; at least there I wouldn’t bring Naomi more grief.
As Ruth got closer, she saw that the man talking was the foreman, David. She didn’t know who the other man was, but she sensed that he was kind. Ruth wasn’t sure why, but something about him bespoke gentleness and she wasn’t afraid of him. Ruth strained to hear what the foreman was saying.
            “She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind _”
            Someone beside Ruth asked to get by her and she lost her concentration for a minute. Trying to listen as the woman moved proved to be fruitless. It was too hard to pretend to work and still listen, so Ruth bent her head and let the woman pass, hoping that she would not guess what Ruth had been doing.
            If anyone knew what I was doing, I would surely be kicked out of this field. If I could only find out if I’ve done anything wrong, I could fix it. I need to do this!
            As she picked up a piece of grain, she causally looked up to see if the two men were still talking. Her eyes got wide as she took in the sight. The man who the foreman had been talking to was walking towards her! Her heart began slamming against her chest and she turned around and began picking up grain and quickly walking the other way.
            Oh no, he’s come to kick me out! He knows what I’ve been doing! What will Naomi say? She’ll be so disappointed in me. I have disgraced her! God of Heaven, forgive me! Let Naomi live on in peace! Give me the punishment and bring nothing on her for she has done nothing wrong!
            As the man got nearer and nearer, Ruth gradually became more anxious. She thought that if she left, people would see her as rude and she didn’t want anyone to think badly of her, if that were possible. More than anything, she didn’t want to deal with the man who was coming closer and closer to her, so she picked up her pace, not worrying what others would say about her.
            Bending to pick up a piece of grain on the ground, Ruth felt a hand lightly brush her shoulder. She nearly fell to the ground in a panic, knowing who it was, but she gathered herself together and turned around to greet the man standing before her. He was tall, and had long dark hair. As Ruth examined his face, she tried to figure out what he was thinking but she could not decipher anything. She was attracted to his eyes, though. They were the deepest brown she had ever seen, and somehow she felt better. Whatever he wanted, he was a kind man and she felt sure that everything would turn out.
            “Hello, sir. May I help you?” She timidly asked as she bowed her head in a gesture of respect. Ruth silently tried to calm her beating heart; she was sure he could hear it because it was beating louder than it had ever before.
            “You are Ruth, the Moabitess?” he quietly asked, his brown eyes searching for an answer in her features. Ruth could tell he was not mocking her and she felt better about answering him.
            “Yes sir, I have come to live with Naomi, because both our husbands have passed away.”
            “You are welcome, my daughter.” Ruth had to stop herself from acting surprised because he had called her 'daughter'; she wasn’t expecting that. “Listen to me carefully,” he continued, “stay here with my gleaners when you gather. Do not go to any other fields.” Ruth was once again taken back. This was the landlord! He had come back, she was talking to him, and he wasn’t kicking her off his land! She felt a quick thrill of hope rush through her.
            Maybe I’ll actually be able to live a normal life here. If a landlord is okay with me staying on his field and he wants me to, things might be getting better! Thank you Adonai for your provision!
            The man gestured around at his fields and went on, “Glean behind my other women; find which part they are harvesting and follow them. Do not be afraid to do what you need to do, for I have warned my people not to bother you or lay a hand on you. If they do, I will deal with it. Do not be afraid to tell me of anyone who you are afraid of.” He pointed towards a well where Ruth saw a group of women pulling water. “If you are thirsty, get some water from those who are pulling it. Please do not leave us because of anything you require. If you are in want of anything, bring it to me and if it is in my power I will provide it.”
            Ruth was speechless and didn’t know what to say. When she came to Bethlehem, she knew there would be hard times, but she never expected there would be someone as nice as the man standing before her. He had offered her a field to work in every day, protection, and his friendship. What more could she ask for? The Lord Almighty was looking kindly on her.
            Hardly able to speak, Ruth fell at the feet of her benefactor. “How can I thank you enough? Why are you being so kind to me? I am only a foreigner. I should be getting water for your workers, and yet you have told me that they will get it for me. You are so generous with all you have. How can I ever thank you!?” She had her face planted in the ground and she wasn’t sure if her patron had heard her long speech, but she was sure he got the point because he reached down and touched her head.
            “My daughter, rise up. I have heard of your great kindness you showed to your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your own father and mother and came to live among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully!” When he smiled at Ruth, she felt like she was in Moab, sitting on her daddy’s lap. Ruth smiled at him as she rose from her prostrate position.
            “I hope I continue to please you sir. You have comforted me by speaking kindly to me even though I am not as worthy as your workers.” She bowed down once more to show her great gratitude.
            “Go in peace my daughter, and may the Lord God bless you for your difficulties. Only He knows how you have gotten through them without crumbling.” He smiled at her once more, then turned and walked away and nodded at a worker who waved to him.
            Perplexed, Ruth stood and watched him walk away. This man was like none she had ever met. Why had he been so kind to her? Doubts flooded her mind about his intentions. Did he always behave this way to strangers or was she the only one he was kind to? Was he, Ruth gulped, interested in keeping an eye on her to guarantee more visits such as the one they just had? She couldn’t think about that. If this man had romantic desires, well, she just would not allow herself to think about that. Of course he didn’t have romantic interests, she reasoned. He was so much older than she was and they would never work together, and to top it all off, she was a foreigner! No one would ever fall in love with a foreigner!
            Ruth suddenly noticed that there were people staring at her. She had been standing there watching the man walk away. Embarrassed, she went back to her work, but what did the foreman say the landlord’s name was? Boaz.
            Boaz, that’s such a great name.
            Hoping no one would come and ask her why the landlord spoke to her, Ruth quickly got back to work. She began to think over what had happened so she could tell Naomi, but Ruth wasn’t sure she could remember all of it. It went by so fast and she would sound like a child if she tried to repeat it. Ruth went back to her gleaning but she kept running the conversation through her mind.

Chapter 6
            As the sun beat down on the field of gleaners, Ruth unwaveringly continued working. She was determined to make Naomi proud of her. She wanted to bring a full day’s work of grain and barley home. Naomi had gone through so much and she didn’t want any more hardships to disturb her.
            Ruth looked up at the sun and sighed. The great light of the sky had reached its peak. Brushing the forming sweat off her forehead, she decided to take a break. She saw others sitting down and resting. Most people were going over to others and sitting in circles. Ruth imagined herself in one of those groups, having friends she could talk to halfway through the day, but, unfortunately, she would have to eat alone. She didn’t want to disturb any of the other gleaners with her presence, and she dreaded the thought of making more trouble for herself.         She had put her basket down and pulled out a small lunch of bread and fish when the foreman she talked with before came to her.
            “Mistress,” he began and bowed his head, showing her respect. Ruth's eyes widened by the way he addressed her for it was odd for a foreman to address her with so much respect. “Boaz has asked you to come eat lunch with him and his workers.” He bowed his head once again and turned to go back to his master’s abode.
            Ruth was dumbfounded. She had sat there and heard what the foreman said, but it hadn’t registered. Boaz wanted her to come eat with him! What kind of man was he? He talked to a foreigner, he protected her from workers who might not be kind to her, and now he was showing her even more kindness. She could hardly fathom why anyone would be so kind to her; even back in Moab people were not this kind to her.
            Ruth looked around at the others, hoping she didn’t cause any awkwardness with others because she had been granted the privilege of eating with the landlord. Standing up, she brushed herself off and straightened her hair. She wasn’t quite sure how to act when she encountered Boaz. Should she fall to her knees in submission and thanks or nod her approval of his actions or should she tell him about Naomi and thank him for being so kind to her. She had no clue what she should do regarding his invitation.
            Because Ruth was so busy thinking of how to greet her benefactor, she didn’t notice that she had come to the place where he and his workers were sitting. Surprised to see them, Ruth bowed her head in a gesture of thanks and went to sit on the outer circle of the workers who were listening to Boaz tell of his day. She didn’t want to push her luck and sit in the circle with the other workers. Ruth was no longer a common gleaner; she had been accepted into some higher group. For some reason, Boaz had promoted her and he had looked kindly upon her.
            “Ruth,” Boaz said warmly as she sat down. “Thank you for coming and blessing us with your presence. Please, take some roasted grain. Benjamin,” he said, motioning for an elderly man, “take this grain and bring it to Ruth! She has worked hard all morning in a foreign land! Ruth, do not be afraid!” He said once again turning his attention to the guest. “Come dip your bread in the sour wine and be merry with us. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not wanted!”
            “Oh kind sir, thank you so much. I cannot thank you enough for all you have done!” She rose and cupped her hands for Benjamin as he poured the grain into them. “May Jehovah bless you for your benevolence to me and my mother. I shall never forget you.” Bowing her head in thankfulness for the grain, she sat down and ate in silence, grateful for the food and the rest from the day’s work.