Women of the Bible Podcast

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Ruth - Week 1: Beauty from Ashes

Season:  Ruth

Erin Davis: Welcome to the Women of the Bible podcast. Does anybody have the first-day-of-Bible-study jitters?

Gayle Villalba: Oh, I do.

Erin: Really? Does that happen to you in real life? The first time you have a Bible study. I mean, this is real life. The first time we have a new Bible study at my church, I always feel a little nervous. What’s that about?

Gayle: I don’t know.

Erin: I don’t know either. Well, I hope that if you’re listening, you don’t have butterflies in your tummy. I hope you’re just eager to be with us. We are about to jump into the book of Ruth. I wish that they could all introduce themselves to us—they can’t—but we can introduce ourselves to them. And I have a question to get us started.

I want you to tell us your name and how long you’ve been walking with the Lord. We’ll start with you.

Portia Collins: My name is Portia Collins. I have been walking with the Lord—whew—since I was, honestly, since I was a little girl. I say that the Lord gripped me as a child, even though I probably didn’t fully understand until I got into my late teenage/early young adult years.

Erin: So decades.

Portia: Yes.

Erin: You’ve been walking with the Lord for decades.

Portia: Yes, decades.

Erin: All right. Over here? Tell us your name and how long you’ve been walking with the Lord.

Gayle: Oh, my.

Erin: You’re going to win this question!

Gayle: I know! (laughter)

Erin: Give us your name and how long you’ve been walking with the Lord.

Gayle: I’m Gayle Villalba, and I’ve been walking with the Lord since the age of five . . . which is many decades.

Erin: Yes. And I’m Erin Davis, and I gave my life to Jesus at fifteen, and I just turned forty. So somebody do the math for me . . . I don’t do math. But I’ve been walking with the Lord for a couple of decades, too.

And the reason I asked that is because whether you’ve been walking with the Lord for five minutes or five years or fifty years, we all need the Word of God at every step in that journey.

I’m curious. Think back to those early days. For you, it was when you were a little girl; for me, it was when I was a teenager. Think back when you first started reading the Bible. How has your study, or your approach to Scripture, changed over time. Gayle?

Gayle: When I started, I didn’t love it. It was a job. It was something to check off my to-do list because I wanted to do this well, this business of being a Christian. I didn’t really love it. I didn’t really understand the relationship part as I did as I got older.

Erin: I so appreciate that honesty. I imagine that there are women right now sitting in Bible study groups. They’re getting ready to do Ruth, and there’s a woman sitting there going, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t have the time,” or “I don’t know how to study my Bible,” or “I don’t know these women,” or “I don’t know how to do this.”

Gayle: Right.

Erin: So I appreciate your honesty. But I’m glad she’s there. I’m glad she’s listening to us.

Gayle: Yes.

Erin: How about you, Portia? Over time, how would you say your attitude or your approach to Scripture has changed?

Portia: I think in my younger years I had such a disjointed understanding of Scripture. I didn’t see this as one big beautiful picture. 

Erin: Extract a little here, extract a little there.

Portia: Yes. I hated the Old Testament. Didn’t want to read things. Ruth was probably one of the only stories that I wanted to read because I thought, “Oh, I’ve got to find my Boaz.”

Erin: Yes. This was descriptive, absolutely.

Portia: But over time, I have a more holistic understanding of God’s Word. I see the beauty of it. And, like Gayle, at first I didn’t love reading Scripture. I felt like it was one of the things to do to check off a notch on my do-gooder Christian list. But now it is such a joy for me. It’s like food for my soul. I can’t go without eating, and so I can’t go without just sitting and soaking in the Scriptures.

Erin: I love that.

I think my early days as a believer, I expected to have an emotional response every time I opened my Bible. I was supposed to open my Bible to the Psalms, and birds would start singing over my shoulder, (laughter) and I would have some revelation. Sometimes you do get those lightning bolts of Scripture. But I think over time I’ve learned to just be disciplined. The more you know the Word, the more you love it. I think I had those flipped. I was trying to let my love for Scripture motivate us.

So I hope that as you’re listening, your approach to Scripture is evolving like ours is. I think Ruth is actually an interesting case study for us to jump in with, because I’m not sure it’s the Ruth you think you know!

You may have heard the story of Ruth. You may have even read the whole thing—it’s only four little chapters, so we’ll get through all of it in this season of the Women of the Bible. But I think it might not be the version we’ve always heard.

How have you always heard the book of Ruth described, Portia? You mentioned it as the how-to guide to get your Boaz. I love that!

Portia: You know it. That is what it is. I think, most of the time, when I’m talking with women in my church or community, they automatically think, Oh, that’s the book about how to get a man, how to do it the right way. And I’m, like, “Uh, no.”

So I think that the biggest thing for me and what I think I want to challenge other women with is, What are we looking at here? Is it really this fairy tale, this princess story? Or is there more here? I’m excited to explore that amazing book.

Erin: Me, too.

Gayle, how have you always heard the book of Ruth framed?

Gayle: A love story—the ultimate love story. She meets her prince.

Erin: Cinderella. Right?

Gayle: Yes, but it’s way more than that.

Erin: It’s so much more than that. It is a love story. That part is true, but it is so much more than that. I’m so glad we’re going to go a little bit . . . not a little bit, a lot deeper than that.

Are there other places in Scripture that you thought you knew and over time you go, “Wait a minute! That’s not the way I heard it framed,” or “It’s not the story I thought it was,” or “It doesn’t mean what I thought it did.”

I’ll give an example: I’ve spent a lot of time recently studying the book of Leviticus. Yes, Leviticus 23 describes these seven feasts. I can’t believe the gospel is all over those feasts. So it’s been that lightbulb for me lately, like, “Oh, this is not what I thought this was. It’s so much more.”

Can you think of an example of elsewhere in Scripture where you’ve had that experience, Portia?

Portia: Oh, honestly, all over Scripture. Because for so long I failed to see the gospel centeredness in every passage. So I would take passages, just like with the book of Ruth, and I would make them about me. Like, this is my how-to as opposed to seeing what God wants me to see, learning about Him.

And, of course, the truths in Scripture are meant to shape our hearts, to reshape our hearts and transform our minds. But it’s not about you. It’s not like we can just cherry pick these verses and apply what we want to to our lives to kind of concoct or make these perfect pictures. It’s like a whole thing.

Erin: It’s about Jesus.

Portia: Yes. It’s about Jesus. Right.

There are so many places. It’s like Jeremiah 29:11, how we take that Scripture out of context and try to apply it to going to college or buying a house. 

Erin: Getting that dream job!

Portia: Getting that dream job. And it’s more than that. There’s so much more in those verses. My friends jokingly call me the weeping prophet, like Jeremiah. You can just see the lament in his burden. It’s not all just rainbows and gumdrops in that book.

Erin: Yes. I love that in this first session of this season, you’re reminding us that Scripture is not about us. Because I think the lens we want to view Ruth is, “I’m Ruth, and the Lord is going to give me my Boaz,” or “He’s going to transform my current man into a Boaz.” Or whatever. And this story isn’t about us. I love that you’re setting us up for that.

Gayle, can you think of an example of Scripture where you thought it was one thing, and the Lord gave you eyes to see it was so much more?

Gayle: All the way through. I’m presently doing the chronological Bible.

Erin: Me, too!

Gayle: Are you?

Erin: Yes!

Gayle: So, Ezekiel, right?

Erin: Yes! We’re in the weave a little bit.

Gayle: Yes. I’m trying to see it through the lens of Jesus, finding Jesus in the hard areas of Scripture. It’s there. It just fills me with joy every time I see it.

Erin: I love that!

All right. Let’s jump into the book of Ruth. We are going to start in Ruth chapter 1:1–5. Portia, do you have that, and can you read it for us?

Portia: Absolutely!

They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Erin: Yes. Did you notice how I threw you the passage with all the difficult names to pronounce?

Portia: Yes. You’re welcome. I got your back.

Erin: For this session, I would like us to focus on Elimelech.

Now, I know the name of this book is Ruth, but there are lots of other important characters—well, they aren’t even characters. There’s lots of other important people in this story—real people who really lived. I want us to think about Elimelech in this session.

So from these five verses, what do we learn about Elimelech? Look at it again. Just holler out what you see.

Gayle: He left his home.

Erin: And where was his home?

Gayle: Bethlehem.

Erin: And that matters because of where Bethlehem is situated. We’re using Old Testament language. We tend to think of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus, which it was, and that’s going to matter moving forward. But in Old Testament language, where was Bethlehem situated?

Portia: Judah.

Erin: Judah—in the Promised Land. So he leaves his home in the Promised Land when life gets hard, and he heads over to where?

Portia: Moab.

Erin: To Moab. Let’s file that little nugget in the filing cabinet of our brains, and we’ll come back to it. What else do we learn about Elimelech from these five verses?

Portia: He dies.

Erin: He dies—right. His wife’s name is Naomi. We learn his children’s names. And then we learn that he dies. And the fact that he went to Moab matters. Let’s look at our Bibles to find out why.

Gayle, do you have Genesis 19: 36–37? And I’ll warn you, it’s a little bit of a squirmy passage, but if you could read it for us, that’d be great.

Gayle: Okay.

So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Bed-Ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites of today.

Erin: Okay. So nobody wants to get assigned this passage in first-grade Sunday school. Right?

Gayle: No.

Erin: Because the father of the Moabites was born out of a relationship between . . .

Portia: A dad and a daughter.

Erin: So we need that context as we’re considering the fact that Elimelech fled. He didn’t just flee anywhere. He fled right here to Moab.

I’ve got another squirmy passage to help us consider when we think about the Moabites. It comes from Numbers 25:1–5.

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. And the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the Lord, that the fierce anger of the Lord might turn away from Israel." And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men that have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.” 

Whoa! This is part of the backdrop of the book of Ruth. And this is why I say it’s not the Ruth you think you know because it’s very significant that Elimelech took his family into Moab.

What happens in your insides when you read passages like that in the Old Testament? Gayle?

Gayle: Okay. I would liken it to taking your wife and children from a godly family camp environment and moving to Las Vegas where there is blatant sin and trying to protect everyone.

Erin: Yes. They built that city on sin, right?

Portia: They call it Sin City.

Erin: Sin City, that’s right. And deciding, “We’re going to move into that place.”

Portia, when you hear those descriptions of the Moabites being born out of an incestuous relationship and yoking themselves to foreign, pagan gods as the backdrop of Ruth, does that change the picture at all for you?

Portia: It’s like what I know about some of the books that precede Ruth. It’s blatant, like, “We’re going to do our own thing here, and we’re going to go somewhere else.” God was very particular about saying to His people, the Israelites, “Don’t do this. Don’t yoke yourself with these people. Don’t be with the Cannanites. Don’t be with the Moabites.”

Erin: Yes. He warned them about the Moabites.

Portia: No living there and intermingling. And so to take your family out of the safe land, the Promised Land, and to go into a land that God had already said, “Don’t do this,” it’s kind of like something sad.

Erin: Yes. It’s significant. And what we don’t know from the text is: Did Naomi have a say? We don’t know. Did Elimelech just say, “We’re going,” and she had to go along? Did she protest? Was she grieved by it? We don’t know any of that.

But we are going to work towards the happy ending in Ruth, and happy endings are so much sweeter when you see the true darkness of the beginning of the story. And the true darkness at the beginning of the story is that Elimelech took his family and fled sixty miles into enemy territory.

He wasn’t just a visiting neighbor. When you study the Bible—you mentioned this, Portia—you connect all of those parts. If we look back at Ruth 1, it tells us that Elimelech intended to just sojourn to Moab. That’s not a word we use very frequently, but what do you think that means?

Portia: To just travel there for a little while, maybe go and sit there just for a minute and come back home.

Erin: Yes, just wait out that famine maybe. Right? But that’s not what happens. The reality is, he gets to Moab, his wife has children, they put down roots, and he dies there, and I assume is buried in the land of Moab.

Let’s talk about that famine for a moment. Elimelech and Naomi were from the Promised Land. They were children of the Promised Land. Who’s got Deuteronomy 28:15–18? This is some insight into what life was supposed to be like there in the Promised Land.

Portia: I have it.

Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of the ground, and the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.

Erin: So, we don’t know, but it’s possible that the famine occurring in Judah was the judgment of God. That’s not a very popular idea, is it?

Gayle: No, not at all.

Erin: But we see this in Scripture. “If you honor the Lord, we’re going to give you a fruitful life in the Promised Land. And if you turn from the Lord . . . cursed shall be your kneading bowl and cursed shall be your fields and all those things.”

Why do you think the Lord says, “If you don’t follow Me, I’m going to curse the fruit of your life or your land”? Gayle, have you got thoughts?

Gayle: Some of that, I believe, was natural consequences of going against the natural order of things. He laid it out pretty clearly for them as to how to live, “And if you don’t do this, there will be consequences.” So I think it’s a combination. I mean, I’m not taking away from the punishment aspect by any means, but some of it should have made sense to them, and it didn’t.

Erin: Right. So here in Deuteronomy, He’s giving them instructions for how to live in the Promised Land.

Gayle: Right.

Erin: They’d been enslaved, so they’re kind of starting over. “This is how you live a good and fruitful life.”

Gayle: Right.

Erin: And, also, His judgment is to call us back to Him.

Gayle: Right.

Erin: So we can either experience life out there without Him, what it’s like when we’re out from under His blessings, in the hopes that we would run back toward Him.

I don’t want to over apply this. It doesn’t say right here in Ruth 1, “Judah was experiencing a famine due to God’s judgment,” but it’s possible that that’s what was happening. And yet, Elimelech makes this choice to flee the Promised Land, to get out from under God’s judgment—which, I’ve experienced that. Haven’t you?

Gayle: Yes.

Portia: Oh, yes.

Erin: When conviction comes, you want to squirm your way out of it any way you can. But I wonder, What does it communicate about Elimelech’s faith that he fled the Promised Land when the going got tough, that he allowed his daughters. . .

What does it say about Elimelech’s faith that he fled the Promised Land when the going got tough, that he allowed his sons to marry Moabite women. We would be reading between the lines here to make that clear; we’re not saying something that’s clearly in Scripture. But do you draw any conclusions about Elimelech’s heart from those factors? Portia?

Portia: Whew, he was disobedient. It’s so hard because we want to see all the pretty fluffiness in Scripture. We don’t want to wrestle with what it looks like when you are disobedient and the consequences of that. I think that’s what we see in these beginning verses of Ruth—a man who didn’t make the right choice, and it severely impacted not just him, but his entire family.

Erin: His wife, we’re going to see, is deeply impacted at a heart level by his choices. His sons, we don’t know much about, except for that they married Moabite women and died. But they were also buried in the land of Moab. And considering all we know about Moab . . . whew! So yes, we’re seeing a picture of disobedience here. And we do want to fast forward it and get to the wedding in Ruth, chapter 4.

Portia: Get your Boaz!

Erin: We want to get our Boaz, enjoy the rice—and in this case, it’s barley—and then move on. But we’ve got to sit in this a little bit to understand it.

Gayle, any thoughts about Elimelech’s heart as we extract these first few verses?

Gayle: Yes. By personal experience, I think when you take a step of disobedience, and you think, I’m going to go this far and no farther, the default is just to keep going down that path. And even though his sons are marrying Moabite women by then . . . I don’t know Elimelech’s heart, but I can just imagine by then he was saying, “Whatever. I’m already here. I’ve already disobeyed,” which is really sad. I remember times when I’ve gone there in my life. “Well, I did this, so I might as well do that.”

Erin: I’m always amazed how quickly sin progresses. We see it in Genesis. It goes from the bite of the apple to murder in one generation.

Gayle: Right. 

Erin: And here it goes from, “Let’s just move to Moab. I hear they have food.” To, “Let’s let our sons marry Moabite women.” Which is a big leap, and it happened in one generation.

Gayle: Right.

Portia: This reminds me, in my local small group, we often talk about head, heart, hand. Basically, sin starts with just a thought sometimes. And I can imagine if we were to use our imagination in looking at this text, Elimelech probably thought that he was smart, “Okay, I’m going to leave this land where we’re experiencing trouble. This is a bright idea.”

Erin: Or justify it, “I’ve got a wife to protect. I have to do whatever it takes.”

Portia: Yes. And so it starts in the head, and then it goes to the heart. And it’s like, “Okay, now we’re here, and I’m just going to settle, and we’re going to stay here.” And then the hand, just acting that out. I can imagine that they probably picked up the customs of that land, and with him letting his sons marry Moabite women, like, you’re becoming exactly what God told you to stay away from.

Erin: Right. I love that progression. That is so how it happened.

And we’re going to see some other people in this story that have a totally different head, heart, hand response.

I think all of our human tendencies is to want to run away from the pressure of God and into the arms of lesser comfort. Although I would love to paint Elimelech as the bad guy, because that makes me not like Elimelech, I’m so like Elimelech. I want to get out of the pressure.

I want us to think about the women on the other side, listening right now. She’s mopping the floor in her kitchen. She’s got her ear pods in her ears, or she’s driving down the road. In your own lives, or the women you know, what are the pressures that we as women and the women we know want to run away from? It doesn’t have to be the conviction of God, but just the pressures of life. What is it that makes us want to press that pressure-release valve?

Portia: Well, as a wife and a mama, that is tough sometimes. My husband and I have “come to Jesus meetings.” We have to sit down and talk through things. Sometimes I think, Oh, it’s not fair. I’ve got to do all of this. I feel like I’m always juggling fifteen things. And it’s easy to start letting that resentment settle in. God just kind of reels me back in and reminds me, “I gave this to you. This is your portion of life.”

And so, choosing to find joy in those ordinary, day-to-day things that you’re doing, when your husband has left his socks in the floor for the fifteenth time or his trousers on the foot of the bed, and you’re like, “Dude!” it’s just learning to appreciate what God has given you and be joyful where He has placed you, even when it’s hard.

Erin: I think a lot of women feel that pressure of doing it all, that you’re mentioning, that makes you want to sit down and have the talk. I call this a Time for a “State of the Union”—the marital union.

The pressure is, “I can’t keep the house clean and the marriage good and the kids happy and the meals cooked.” That’s a constant pressure, I think, that a lot of women want to escape or certainly to do it with joy.

Gayle, you minister to lots of women. What are some areas where they’re feeling pressure and you sense they just want to escape the pressure?

Gayle: I deal with a lot of pastors’ wives, and you just can only imagine the difficulty of being a pastor’s wife and living up to everyone’s expectations.

Personally, we’re in an entirely different stage of life than you ladies are. We don’t have young children at home. It’s just the two of us. We enjoy our family, but they’re grown and gone. When we’ve led a pastor’s retreat and we’ve been serving for seven days, we come home, and I can listen to the lie and believe the lie that says, “You deserve R&R. You can do whatever you want—watch mindless HDTV, or read a book that has no feeding in it for my soul.” And that’s a dangerous place to be because the truth is: What do I really deserve? I deserve hell. And everything I get in this world on this earth is a treasure and a gift. 

Erin: I feel I’m in this interesting season of life where I do have small children at home, but I’m also the caregiver for two aging relatives. And man, the caregiving pressure is real. I think I can default to some of the “I deserve,” but what I most often default to is “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” I just want a pressure release. I just want to go get a Sonic drink in my car in the quiet. I just want to sit in a movie. But those things don’t change my circumstances.

Gayle: No, that’s right.

Erin: I don’t know what Elimelech faced in Moab, but I know that it wasn’t carefree.

So I wonder, as we think of those things women want to escape, what are the Moabs we run to? You mentioned empty-sources of comfort.

Gayle: Right.

Erin: Food can be a real Moab for me. I just want to run into that pantry and find some quick satisfaction. Venting with women in the same season of life as me. All my closest friends have young children, and when we get together, if we’re not very, very careful, we can just yak, yak, yak, yak, yak . . . gripe, gripe, gripe, gripe, gripe. That’s a Moab. It doesn’t actually relieve any of the pressures of parenting.

Can you think of some Moabs you run to or women you know run to, Portia? What comes to mind?

Portia: Exactly what you just said—venting and complaining is like my security blanket sometimes. I feel like if I can just say what it is that I feel and let it out, then it’s going to be better. But God reels me back in, and sometimes says, “Just zip it. Just be quiet. A soft answer. Be gracious.”

So I guess you would say trying to vindicate myself through my words or through expressing my frustrations as opposed to praying and seeking God. I also have to think: God is not oblivious to the situation I’m in. He’s not oblivious to that.

Erin: That’s right.

When I think I need to vent, I just add two words to it: Or what? Like, “Or what? What is going to happen if I don’t?”

I don’t think any woman has ever spontaneously combusted, to my knowledge, from not getting it out of her mouth. But I do face that temptation. “I’m feeling pressure over here! I’m just going to run over here and spew it, and then I’ll feel better.” Usually I don’t because then I usually have a lot of repenting

Gayle: And venting is just another word for complaining.

Erin: It is. You’re right.

If we wanted to apply ourselves here at this point in the story, we could ask ourselves: When I’m feeling that pressure, do I run into Moabs, or do I turn to God instead?

I’d love for us to turn to Psalm 55. If you are listening with us and you’re not cruising down the highway, I hope you have your Bible handy, and you can turn to Psalm 55 with us.

We’ll see David, who wrote Psalm 55, go through this progression a little bit. At the beginning, he’s feeling some pressure. Then there’s a turning point where he chooses not to run into a Moab, so to speak, but to turn to the place that can really relieve pressure.

Gayle, can you just read us verses 1 through 8?

Gayle:

Listen to my prayer, O God,
   do not ignore my plea;
   hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
   at the voice of the enemy,
   at the stares of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering upon me
   and revile me in their anger.

My heart is in anguish within me;
   the terrors of death assail me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
   horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
   I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
   and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
   far from the tempest and storm." (NIV84)

Erin: So David goes on like that for a little bit. And you can always tell when you’re reading David because this is how he talks: “The enemy is gonna get me! Everybody’s surrounding me!”

Don’t you love that he acknowledges the pressure that he’s under? Gayle, you and I were just talking a little bit that sometimes when we’re in the hard, we need to say the hard. We can absolutely trust the Lord and still say the hard. And David is such a great example for that.

But what he doesn’t do is, he doesn’t flee to Moab, spiritually speaking.

Portia, can you pick it up at 16? I love to hear you read Scripture, Portia. So can you give us 16 through the end of Psalm 55?

Portia: Okay. 

“But I call to God . . .

Erin: Okay, I’ve got to pause you right there. “But I call to God.” That’s so important! If you’re writing in your Bible, girl, go ahead and circle that. Let’s use our imaginations and imagine Elimelech in the land of famine . . . “But he called to God.” It would have been a very different story.

I’m sorry I interrupted you.

Portia:  

But I call to God,
  and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
   I utter my complaint and moan,
   and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety
   from the battle that I wage,
   for many are arrayed against me.
God will give ear and humble them,
   he who is enthroned from of old,
because they do not change
   and do not fear God.

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
   he violated his covenant.
His speech was smooth as butter,
   yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
   yet they were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
   and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
   the righteous to be moved.

But you, O God, will cast them down
  into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
   shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Erin: He ends the Psalm, like, with a little fortitude. Right?

Gayle: Right.

Portia: Yes.

Erin: In the beginning it’s like, “Oh my! Everything is terrible!” And it was! I’m sure he was facing real enemy armies. But then he gets to this turning point and says, “But I’m going to trust in You.” And then he ends with some fortitude, some strength given to him by the character of the Lord.

So as we wrap up this first session of Ruth, I think that’s the application for me. And the application I would give women is just to sit in the challenges a little bit.

Sit in the tension we’re in here in Ruth 1. Don’t fast forward to the wedding.

Sit in the challenge of opening your Bibles, that can be tough.

Sit in the uncomfortable parts of the story—and we’ve been in some—and we’re going to read some more uncomfortable parts of the story.

Sit in your own commitment to attend or lead a Bible study.

I love the Bible. I love Bible study. And there’s still a part of me that kind of wants to wiggle out of that commitment. I need to sit in it.

This is not the book of Ruth you thought you knew, but it is so, so, so much more. So we’re glad you’re with us on the journey. Thanks, friends.

Portia: You’re welcome.

Gayle: Thank you.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teachers

Gayle Villalba

Gayle Villalba

Gayle serves as Ministry Representative for Revive Our Hearts and has served on staff for nearly twenty-five years. She also facilitates, with her husband, at The Lodge, a retreat center for pastors and wives. Ed and Gayle have been married for fifty-six years and have four grandchildren and three great grandchildren, with two more on the way!

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Women of the Bible