My mother’s name is Ruth Sinclair Pate Bunn. I’ve always found “Ruth” to be a lovely name. I liked the name so much that I gave it to my oldest daughter, Jessica Ruth, as a legacy for her to follow. It is my sister’s middle name, too! I’ve known some amazing women named Ruth: Ruth Kimsey (one of my mother’s friends), Ruth George (my piano teacher from Truett-McConnell), and Ruth Bell Graham (whom I’ve admired from afar.)
Maybe you all know the story of Ruth from the Bible. I used her life and especially her connection to Boaz yesterday morning when I spoke at Cleveland United Methodist Church. I’m borrowing heavily from that talk so forgive me if you were there!
The story of Ruth is a story of love and provision. Ruth was widowed at a very young age and left her homeland to care for her mother-in-law. In her new country, she was an immigrant and a migrant worker. She met Boaz, eventually married him, and had children. Her great-grandson was King David, who was part of the lineage of Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father.
There is so much in her story that is worth study. I focused on Boaz, the man who became her husband, and his response to her. He was a man of fine character and was well-respected yet he chose to break the laws of the Torah to welcome her into his life.
Boaz’ care for Ruth reminds me of the life Ruth and Dwight Bunn have led. As a military family, they have lived in many different countries and each time embraced the people and cultures. They have welcomed into their homes so many people of different nationalities and taught their children through examples of hospitality.
Although I arrived later and missed most of their travels, I grew up with stories of Osako from Okinawa and Piele from Spain, women who helped Mom set up housekeeping in a new place. Since Mom stayed home to take care of her children, these women were important friends to Mom.
In Dad’s military career, he worked with a diverse collection of people from all parts of the United States and around the world. All were welcome in our home.
Every day I am reminded of how blessed I was to grow up in such a home. What a blessing to have two people so completely devoted to each other. It was such a gift for them to teach my eyes and my heart to see past anything physical that would divide me from others. Nationality, wealth (or lack of), status, educated (or not): these things were never important. It was their character that mattered.
When Boaz first saw Ruth, he asked about her character. He found her to be hard-working and devoted to Naomi and to God. Here’s their interaction as recorded in the second chapter of the book of Ruth:
11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!”