“Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! How much you can accomplish! And what your potential is.”
Those are powerful words written in the diary of a young Jewish girl who along with her family were in hiding for two years during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Her diary is considered a classic of war literature. Surely someone so bright, so encouraging had a wonderful life. No, Anne Frank died in 1945 in the Bergen-Belsan concentration camp.
To have known freedom and then to be whisked away and confined in an apartment where you have to run and hide in secret places every time the enemy came around, could not have been easy for a teenager. Everything depended on her listening to instructions and then following them.
Did you every not listen to someone's good advice and end up in a bad place? Lost what you considered most precious all because you did not follow through with what you were told? Perhaps we all have in some area of our lives.
Does it surprise you that the Bible can affect our lives for the good and clearly tells us what happens when we do not? It's not a book of dos and don'ts but one of life and death, clearly telling us how to live a life that will benefit us as we serve God. I think of it as a book within a book because of the different stories given as examples of how this all works.
One in particular I'm fond of, is the story of Ruth, a down and outer who makes it to the big times by doing what she is told… but wait I'm getting ahead of myself.
Ruth was a woman who worshiped idols, not uncommon for those who don't know God. She married a Jewish man who died not long afterwards. Since his mother was in her land, she stayed with her. But one day Naomi (the mother-in-law) decided to go back to her homeland because both her husband and her two sons had died. She became very bitter.
She told her son's wives to stay in their homeland. One did and one did not. Ruth made a decision to change religions and went back to Bethlehem with Naomi because the famine had ended.
As it turned out Ruth gleaned (gathered grain) in a relatives field, so they could have food. The owner, Boaz saw her and asked his overseer who she was. He then went to her and said in today's language, “Listen up.”
Because he knew of the kindness Ruth showed to Naomi and knew their situation he gave her some specifics of what to do and not do: don't go and glean anywhere else, stay here among the women who work for me. Take notice of the field where we are harvesting and follow along after the women. When you are thirsty, go and get a drink.
Ruth was astounded and asked why he should be concerned with her or why he should give her the time of day. Do you ever feel like that when someone is good to you? Grace is hard to understand for those who have not known it.
I'm always amazed when I read how Jesus looked at people. He “beheld” people, an act of intense looking inside and really knowing all there is to know about the person he is looking at. I think that was the kind of look Boaz gave Ruth. He heard what she had done for Naomi and what she had given up.
Ruth's life had reached a point of crisis the day she left Moab and walked with Naomi. JFK said, “When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” Now Ruth was faced with something she couldn't understand; grace.
“Why are you paying attention to me? Why are you so good to me? Why do you care?” Grace was the answer to all of her whys. Boaz spoke back to her with “good news.”
God cares that much for us, all the time. He can't help but love us because he is always loving. He is never going to stop looking at you once you are his.
The “good news” is Jesus. He is for everyone – the imprisoned, the frightened, the dying, those in crisis and those who want to find themselves. He is watching. He is waiting. He saves. He gives you new life. He is the way, the truth and the life that you have been searching for.
Ruth's story is a story of redemption and as she follows Naomi's wisdom, she finds herself in the middle of the linage of Jesus Christ.
Don't short change yourself. Reach your full potential through Jesus and spread the good news to everyone you meet. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot