“Along for the Ride” was written April of 2013.
“I’m no Tamar, Brother. I’m a Ruth.”
I had been thinking a lot about Ruth (The Book of Ruth) and Tamar (Genesis 38). Anyone with any sort of romantic bent will sigh a little as they read the Book of Ruth and be somewhat appalled as they read about Tamar. I thought about what it took for both of them to pursue their dream. They both had to prepare themselves.
Ruth, washed and anointed herself and put her raiment upon her. Tamar put off her widows clothes, covered her with a veil and wrapped herself.
I’m sure at that point, though they were both going through the motions of preparing themselves, what they were about to do still hadn’t quite set in. It wasn’t until each took that first step away from what they had known for many years that reality hit. Ruth, dressed in her best and smelling of perfume, stepped out from her mother-in-laws home, that safe place and started her endless walk down to the threshing floor. Tamar, slipped away from her father’s home wrapped and veiled as a harlot and started her long walk up to Timnath to the side of a dusty road. Ruth the Brave.
Tamar the Bold. Each of their stomachs were in knots as they walked toward their destiny. They both were imagining the possible consequences of what they were about to do. Ruth wondered what would happen if Boaz refused her. What if he rebuked her for her forwardness. Tamar blanched at what would happen if Judah discovered who she was or if the men of the town came upon her and treated her as the harlot she was only pretending to be. Then, much sooner than either wanted, they were each in their place and their story would soon unfold. Ruth, waited for darkness and the revelry to end and for the man her future rested on to find a place to sleep. Tamar waited for her father-in-law, the man who had promised her a future but had withheld it from her, to appear as he walked on his way to Timnath.
Scene 3 and the curtain rises.
Darkness had fallen and Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry. He laid himself down at the end of a heap of corn and was soon asleep. Ruth stepped softly from the shadows, her heart pounding and went to where he slept. Trembling, she uncovered his feet, and laid her down…..Tamar gazed at her father-in-law from behind her veil, terrified at what she was prepared to do…..It was midnight and though it was silent, Boaz awoke, startled and knew he wasn’t alone. He quickly turned himself only to see a woman lying at his feet. He whispered harshly, “Who are you!” Ruth answered breathlessly, “I am Ruth, your handmaid. Cover me with the skirt of your garment and be my protector for you are a near kinsman.” Boaz answered her with great gladness and love and proved to her that he was an honorable man. He set his mind to making her his wife and he did.
Judah went over to the side of the road where Tamar sat. Thinking she was a harlot, Judah said, “Let me have intercourse with you.” For a moment Tamar wondered if she could do this thing, then she remembered the cruelness of her first husband, Judah’s oldest son and how Judah’s next son had simply used her, making sure she didn’t conceive. She steeled herself and said contemptuously, “What will you pay me?” The bargain was agreed upon. Judah’s staff, seal and cord left for a pledge until payment of a kid from the flock was made. Tamar allowed herself to be used as a harlot and conceived. She got up and went back to her Father’s home, putting away the harlots garb and putting back on her widow’s garment. Tamar had humbled herself to conceive. It had been her law given right to be protected and allowed the chance to conceive after the death of her first husband, but it had been denied her. Tamar was done passively waiting for what she knew was her right. She did what few would do and made sure that her child would never be called a bastard for she had indisputable proof as to who the father was.
Ruth and Tamar. Their stories are so much alike, their braveness, humbleness and boldness, but the thing that struck me was, at the end of the story, Ruth went from lying at Boaz’s feet, to laying in his arms, whereas Tamar knew Judah from behind a veil and when Judah found out who it was he had left his staff, seal and cord with he knew her no more.
It is a day and age to not just be “along for the ride”. Passive service to God will no longer do. Passive “waiting on the blessing” should no longer be the norm.
We need to re-look at how we find the will of God for our lives. As Lee Stoneking says, “We need to be aggressive!” We need to push and shake the gates and doors of heaven until we find out what God would have us do. Somehow we need to get off of the “path of least resistance” and out of the “go with the flow”. We need to be bold and have a warrior attitude. Fight for what you feel God has for you! If you must stay behind the veil, then so be it. I will not. I choose to be a Ruth. If I must humble myself, I will, but I will at some point leave the darkness at the feet of my promise to enter the daylight and into the arms of my promise.
9. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.
10. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
11. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:
12. And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.
13. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.
14. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.
15. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
16. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
17. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
18. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
19. And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
20. And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
21. And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,
22. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.