She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.” Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. – Ruth 3:18-4:1 (ESV)
In the book of Ruth’s story Boaz serves as her advocate. Even though both Naomi and Ruth desired and worked towards such an end, they could not have accomplished it without someone like Boaz. First he provides for Ruth in the fields and then agrees to serve as her kinsman redeemer, but only after following protocol and speaking with a relative who was a nearer redeemer. Finally he enters into a formal agreement to purchase the property of Naomi’s husband and sons, marry Ruth, and continue this line of inheritance.
This turn of events would be enough to constitute a happy ending in most stories, but Ruth’s story, and the impacts of Boaz’s advocacy, don’t end here. The acts of mercy that both Ruth and Boaz practice ripple into the wider community. Naomi is made whole as she will now have property and an heir with her husband’s lineage. Ruth, a foreigner, is now a fully accepted part of this society. Even more, through the union of Ruth and Boaz, Obed is born – the father of Jesse, the father of David – the great ancestor of Jesus. A ripple effect moves out of these decisions in individual lives. God has not stopped working through the story of these individuals within his mercy.
Neither has God stopped working through the myriad of other stories of mercy. We are called to continue in this path within our own lives – sharing God’s mercy in partnership with others. Often the presence of an advocate can make all the difference – whether someone is playing that role for us or we are doing so for another. So many decisions that are related to our academic careers are not in our hands. We may do the best work possible, but we aren’t deciding which articles a journal will select or who will become a member of a high profile committee. As we step out and risk, there is no assurance that it will turn out as we’d like it. At these times it can be a blessing to have an advocate. Someone who can guide you through the process of moving into a risky situation and even speak on your behalf to the people making the decision.
Moreover, we do have the ultimate advocate in the person of the Holy Spirit.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. – John 14:26
Through this Spirit we can live into the stories of mercy that are before us, stories that our out of our hands, yet are connected through this ripple effect.
- Who serves as an advocate in your life?
- Where are you advocating for others and helping to create a larger reality of God’s mercy?
Lord, Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit, our advocate, into our lives. May we listen to the Spirit’s leadings and reach out to share your mercy by being advocates to others in our lives. Amen.
Jamie serves with InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries as Co-Area Director for the Ohio Valley, working with campus ministers in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and faculty groups in Greater Cincinnati at University of Cincinnati (UC) and Northern Kentucky University (NKU). In addition she serves as Director of Faculty Pilgrimage for InterVarsity’s Faculty Ministries enjoying the opportunity to put into practice her doctoral research in literary pilgrimage.