It didn’t take long for The Supreme’s song, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, to become a favorite during my high school and college years. I particularly liked the Dixie Chicks’ version and would sing passionately along with the trio as they belted out what became the anthem of my singlehood.
I need to find, find someone to call mine
But mama said
You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
You got to trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes
This girl’s mama was smart! Even though I knew God had a plan and purpose for me being single (for much too long, I thought), I found it comforting that I wasn’t the only one who needed the reminder to wait, trust, and give love time to happen.
I wasn’t (and still am not) the most patient person when it comes to things I want, especially those things I really desire — like a husband, or even just a boyfriend. Since I have an independent spirit and am a go-getter in general, my impatience was the catalyst for a fair amount of sly maneuvering to get that coveted relationship.
By His grace and mercy, God thwarted my efforts to manipulate my way into relationships that, in retrospect, would have been major mistakes. However, my emotional investment in my own plans (instead of His) caused the thwarting to be painful and disheartening. I often felt like I would never find someone to call mine.
I think Ruth must have felt like that sometimes, too. After grieving the death of her husband, she had the choice of going back to her family in hopes of marrying again, or sticking with her bereft mother-in-law and living the life of a widow. Ruth had a glimpse of married life and then it was taken away from her. Would she ever find someone to call her own again?
Ruth chooses to remain faithful to her new family and to her God. She is a beautiful example of humility, sacrifice, and trust. If my propensity for maneuvering for greatest relational advantage is any indication, I doubt I would have chosen Ruth’s path and been so willing to give up the chance of marrying again.
I read Ruth’s story over again the other day and was re-impressed with her faith, but I was also struck by Naomi’s important role in guiding young Ruth through God’s plan with gentleness and wisdom. Naomi had more life experience than her daughter-in-law. She knew what it was to be a wife, a mother, a widow and used those seasons in her own life to help Ruth along in her season of life. Naomi’s relationship with Ruth began as family, but blossomed into a picture of Titus 2:3-5 before it was even written!
Their relationship was intimate enough for Naomi to offer support and guidance when Ruth needed it most. She actively sought to “seek security” for Ruth (Ruth 3:1), giving detailed directions for approaching Boaz. When Ruth had done what her mother-in-law suggested, Naomi gave the best piece of advice:
“Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out…” (Ruth 3:18)
I would have wanted to follow Boaz to the city gates, pestering him until he asked that other relative if they wanted to marry me. I would have contacted that other relative’s sister and hinted that it would be a better match for Boaz. Needless to say, sitting still would not have been foremost on my mind.
But, in retrospect, I wish I would have followed Naomi’s advice more often — and not just in regards to romance. Waiting on God to reveal His perfect plans shows a confidence and trust in His love and faithfulness. He delights in giving good gifts to His children, but they aren’t always exactly what we asked for. Our manipulation and maneuvering often does more harm than good.
Not only do I hope to develop relationships like Ruth had with Naomi, I pray that my Naomi would have the courage to tell me to sit still until I know how God works things out in my life.