"And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech" (Ruth 2:3).
If you'd seen Ruth going out that day down the road from Bethlehem, you would have seen a girl who had no idea into which field she should go. How is she going to find her way into the field of Boaz? It's going to be very important that she get in that field. If she doesn't, then you can tell the wise men that there's no use coming to Bethlehem. Jesus won't be born there. And you can tell the shepherds to stay with their flocks on the hillside because He won't be born in Bethlehem. You see, it's important that she go into the right field. How is she going to find the right field?
When I was in Bethlehem, I took a walk myself. I may not have walked down the exact road that Ruth did, but it couldn't have been very far from it. And I thought of her as I walked. I think we've located the fields of Boaz. They're right down at the foot of the hill from Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a typical city in Palestine of that day. All of them were built upon a hill, and this little town of Bethlehem was no exception. Evidently down at the foot of the hill in a very fertile valley were the fields of Boaz. When Ruth went out of Bethlehem that day, she had no notion where to go. Now Scripture says, "Her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto BoazŠ." Well, the word hap is an old Anglo-Saxon word, coming from the same stem as perhaps or happens. Her "hap" was just a happenstance, as we call it today. From her viewpoint, it was just by chance. Actually, it was just that. Now this brings us again to the question: How did she find her way into the field of Boaz when it was so very important that she go into the right field? Did God put up a stop and go sign, a red and green light, or point an arrow into the right field? He did not. Well then, did a voice speak out of heaven? No, no voice spoke out of heaven. Well, she must have had a vision, someone thinks. But she didn't have a vision. Well, how in the world is this girl going to get into the right field? Let's ask Ruth. I would say to her, "Ruth, I'm sure that you had some pretty definite leading about the field of Boaz." And she'd say, "No, I didn't. You'd better go back and read the book of Ruth again. It says that my hap was to light on his field. I just happened to go in there." May I say to you, from the human viewpoint, it was just happenstance. From God's viewpoint, it's something else. He's going to lead her into the right field. But He's not going to lead her in the way a lot of people talk about it today.
Some folks talk about God's will as if they'd just had a Western Union telegram from Him or a Special Delivery air mail letter from heaven. My friend, God doesn't lead that way today, and I don't think He has ever led very many that way. Back in the Old Testament He led some in a very direct manner, but Ruth was not one of them. It seems to me that Ruth's decision was more important than some other decisions that were made. God said to Jonah, "Arise, go to Nineveh" (Jonah 1:2). And He told Jeremiah and Ezekiel to speak out. But I want to say this to you: what He told these men to do is not nearly as important as Ruth's getting into the right field, because Jesus' birth in Bethlehem is dependent upon her going into the right field. Now God is going to overrule in all of this, and God is going to guide in the background. That's the wonderful thing about the Lord's will. I'm not sure that it's necessary for God to give you and me a road map. Sometimes I wish He would. And I hear some people talk today as if they have a road map. They say, "The Lord's will was for me to do this, and I knew this was the Lord's will." I wish I could be that clear, that sure.
Years ago, when I was pastor in Cleburne, Texas, I received two calls from other churches, one to the east of Texas and the other to the west in California. And I didn't know which to take. I'm being honest with you. I actually got down on the floor and cried out to God to show me which call to accept. He didn't. I had no vision. But then I heard Dr. Harry Ironside make the statement that of the decisions he had to make in his life, eighty percent (I think this is the figure he gave) were made without knowing at the time they were God's will. He did not know until sometime later on. After hearing that, I went back home and told my wife that the atmosphere had all cleared, that I felt we were to go to California. I wasn't sure, but I felt that was the way I was to move.
As far as God's will for your life is concerned, if you think that He's going to put up a green light for you at every corner or an arrow pointing or a voice out of heaven, you're just wrong. He doesn't do it that way.
If you'd asked Ruth if she knew she was going into the right field, she would have said, "I don't know what you're talking about." And had you asked her why she chose the field she did, I think she would have said to you, "I prayed about it. Before I left home this morning, I asked God to lead me. I really didn't know which road to take, but I got down here and looked into one field with nice grain but there weren't many poor people gleaning in it, so I was pretty sure that whoever owned that was a skinflint. But over on the other side of the road, my, there were a lot of poor people gleaning. And I knew that man must be a generous man, and I needed to find that kind of field because I'm a Moabitess, a foreigner, an outcast, and I didn't want to be put out; so that's why I chose this one." ... For Ruth there was the element of uncertainty, but on the other side there was the providential dealing of Almighty God.
One of the glorious things, as we go through this world today, is to know that our times are in His hands; to know that He is ordering the events of this universe; and to know that God has said that nothing can come to a child of His without His permission. You must remember that there was a hedge around Job, and even Satan couldn't touch him until God gave permission. God will not give permission unless it serves some lofty and worthy purpose. It did serve a lofty and worthy purpose in the life of Job. And I'm sure that Ruth did not realize the significance of the decision she was making. She just went in, and I think she prayed and had a reasonable basis for it.
For the child of God today who is frustrated because he's looking for some sign, some experience, some light, some voice, some vision, some dream, he must realize that God is not speaking to us in that way today. God today is speaking to us through His Word. And the child of God who walks in fellowship with God, with no unconfessed sin in his life, and has not grieved the Holy Spirit, can commit his life to God. And when he gets to a place where he isn't clear just what God's will is for him, he can make a decision and move into the situation. Now maybe he makes a wrong decision, but God has permitted it for a purpose.
As I look back on my life, there is one instance where I expected God to open up a door for me, and He didn't open up that door. In fact He slammed the door, as it were, in my face, and I felt very bad about it. But I thank God that He did it, because now I can look back and see that it was best. It's like what Joseph said to his brethren when they came to him after the death of old Jacob, their father. He said in Genesis 50:20, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good." How wonderful that is, and may it be an encouragement to you today. Perhaps you are actually biting your fingernails and are wondering why you don't get clear leading. You know Christians who act like they have a hotline to heaven. Now it's wonderful that all of us have access to God, but I'm not sure that He always talks right back to us. So let's be very careful today about the way we banter about the statement, "I know this is the Lord's will." We just can't always be sure. But we can commit our way to Him, have no unconfessed sin in our lives, not grieve the Holy Spirit, and be in the center of the Lord's will as best we know. Yes, my friend, you can commit yourself to Him in a wonderful way. And even if you got into the same predicament that Joseph did, or even that Job did, say with him, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15).
My friend, that's the glorious truth that brings a joy and an expectancy to life. The providence of God makes every day a thrill for the child of God. I'm glad that He didn't give me a blueprint because, frankly, I like to take a trip over a new road, going into an area I've never been before. I did that one autumn when we were in the Ozarks. My, how that road twisted and turned. And every twist and turn was a thrill-the autumn leaves were a riot of color. Nature seemed lavish, covering every hillside with polychrome pictures. And I'm so glad that God didn't send me pictures of it all ahead of time. What a thrill life can become for us!
by: J. Vernon McGee