by Pastor Ola Joseph Kolawole
REFLECTION ON RUTH CHAPTERS 2 & 3
I thought to combine Chapters 2 and 3 in my reflection today as the thought I intend to draw upon runs through both chapters. Perhaps the following verses also sounded significant to some of you:
“It so happened that Naomi had a relative by marriage, a man prominent and rich, connected with Elimelech’s family. His name was Boaz.” (2:1 MSG)
…And as it happened, the field where she found herself belonged to Boaz, this relative of Naomi’s husband.” (2:3 TLB) “As she was working in his field, Boaz happened to arrive from Bethlehem, and he greeted the harvesters…” (2:4 VOICE) “The man I’m thinking of is Boaz! He has been so kind to us and is a close relative. I happen to know that he will be winnowing barley tonight out on the threshing floor…” (3:2 TLB)
There were just too many coincidental happenings in those two chapters, isn’t it? For those of you who watched the introductory video I sent on Monday, you will recall a fun fact about the book of Ruth: the fact that the name of God was almost not mentioned. (Just like the Book of Esther where the name of God was actually not mentioned throughout.) Of course, in both Books, the sure thing is that we can see the hand of God throughout the story.
This leads me to the point I want to make in today’s reflection: For the believer, there is no such thing as COINCIDENCE. If anything, Coincidences are God’s way of choosing to stay anonymous. Failure to recognize the hand of God in our coincidences is tantamount to taking His blessings for granted and giving Him far less thanks and praise than is due to His graciousness.
In the few weeks of my existence, I have experienced some unforgettable coincidences:
Between February 2010 and March 2011, I was delayed for mobilization for NYSC in Nigeria for almost a year. My mates were being mobilized, batch after batch. I didn’t get mobilized until after a year of being through with B.Sc. But looking back in retrospect, I was mobilized JUST IN TIME to be in Gombe State at the same time that a beautiful young lady (whose heart and mine beat to the same music) found herself in that same city! Coincidence?
In 2015, I headed to the UK for a Bible College programme. All I had on me was enough money to pay the first instalment of my tuition fee and just a little change left to keep body and soul together till God makes the next provision. I have heard how expensive it was to get accommodation in the UK. I knew that I would need a miracle to be able to afford one in those first few weeks of being in a foreign land with no contacts. On the day I left London for Bradford, my 10-year-old niece accompanied me to the Coach Station. Her being loquacious meant that she got talking with a stranger while we were waiting for my Coach to start boarding. (The stranger had been fascinated with her curiosity which was evident in the kind of questions she was asking right from the moment she stepped into the station.) When it was time for me to board the coach, it just so happened that I found myself sitting next to the stranger who, thanks to my talkative niece, is no longer as much a stranger as she was a few minutes ago. We got talking on the coach as we made our way to Bradford. By the time I got to Bradford, I already had a home! For the next three months, I was accommodated for free by this stranger and her family. I became part of their family. Feeding and accommodation for 3 months. All sorted! Coincidence?
In 2017, as I was wrapping up my first Master’s degree (in Biblical and Pastoral Theology), I was in the toilet when God gave me my research focus for my dissertation. Funny thing is that it had nothing to do with ALL the lectures and modules I took while on the programme. As a result, the department was forced to get me a supervisor that did not teach me anything throughout the Masters. I met the lecturer simply because of the research question God laid on my heart (which just so happened to be his own area of scholarship). Today, I am still in the UK because of my connection with that lecturer. That first contact in 2017 had opened many doors I never would have imagined while receiving the research idea sitting on a water closet. Coincidence?
It’s the same dynamic that we see in Ruth’s story. There’s no way a Moabitess would come into the land of the Jews as a young widow and find herself the noblest bachelor in the city. NO WAY!!! But the story went the way it went because of so many it-just-so-happens.
My point? Two things:
Ponder your coincidences; don’t take them for granted. If it advances your cause in the Kingdom of our Father, direct the praise to where it is due! Don’t take it as one of those things. God, as grand as He is, delights in playing Hide and Seek with us. The true sons and daughters are always ever-so-ready to join Him in the game, seeking Him beneath their coincidences and suddenlies. And when they find Him as such, He can then lavish His love on them even more!
For instance, because Naomi spotted the hand of God in Ruth’s coincidence in Chapter 2, the drama of Chapter 3 became possible. Acknowledging God in our coincidences means that He is able to help us further in ways only He can!
Because I acknowledged the finger of God in my London-Bradford trip miracle, when it was time for me to move on from this family’s place to a rented apartment (which I still couldn’t have afforded since I was not working at the time), God opened multiple miraculous doors of provision for that next season. An American sent me a message saying God instructed him to send me a token every month for the next 7 months. On the day I picked up the first ‘token’ from a Post office (via MoneyGram), it was exactly the amount of my monthly house rent. And my tenancy was exactly for 7 months. Can God be more obvious?
So celebrate these eternal instants packaged as coincidences in our every-day life. As you do so, you open the door for more of such!
Leads me to my second point:
Don’t stop trusting God. The contrary physical pieces of evidence notwithstanding, we serve a God who will not withhold what’s good from His children. The psalmist said it like this:
“For Jehovah God is our Light and our Protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold from those who walk along his paths.” (Psalm 84:11 TLB)
So never stop asking for God to be the director of the drama of your life. Keep asking Him to be the umpire at your life’s game. And never stop asking Him to be the Operating System of your metaphorical computer. As such, He gets to determine how the story ends in sync with how it ended in His eternal mind before the beginning began. He gets to determine when to blow the final whistle on the game of your life (and He won’t do that until you have won.) And He gets to be the One in Whom all of the applications of your life will run. Everything finds its perfect place in Him.
To Him alone be praise and glory, now and forevermore. Amen.