I place the dried corn husks on the table. Turns out the husks actually work well in lieu of paper plates. It was fellowship night for our small group women’s Bible study, and we did not have paper plates.
When the story begins, we find out she is moving. The land is dry. The lack of rain and lack of harvest result in little food to eat. So they move– she and her husband their two sons.
They move to another place, somewhat different from their own, leaving behind all that is familiar: their home, their family, and their God.
In this new place, people act differently. They look different, and worship different gods.
This family comes from a place of empty husks, where there was little food.
They move to a place with food, but that is spiritually empty.
They trade one kind of empty husk for another.
Her family stays in this new land. Her sons grow up and they marry wives from this new place. All seems well.
But then, tragedy strikes.
Her husband dies. Her sons die. She is left alone, with her two daughters-in-law, in this land, away from her home. She feels like an empty husk– like the empty barren land from which she came.
But she heard that the Lord had visited her own homeland by giving them bread to eat. The famine was over. Maybe it was time to return home. The God she worships has not forgotten her land.
On the way home, she tells her daughters-in-law not to follow her. She tells them to go back. They weep bitterly; they do not wish to leave Naomi. The younger women tell their mother-in-law they will not turn back. But she implores them again to stay in Moab.
Finally, one daughter-in-law does turn back. She returns to her people in Moab.
But one daughter-in-law stays with her, and they return to Judah together. Upon returning, Naomi weeps and laments with her people. She left Judah with a full house, but during a time of famine. Now, she returns empty-handed, but at the beginning of the barley harvest. She returns like an empty husk– but not completely….
Ruth is with her.
And, it is the beginning of the barley harvest.
As the story unfolds, we see that Ruth “happens” upon the fields of Boaz, where she picks up the grains left behind. We observe Boaz show compassion and kindness toward Ruth.
Not long after, Boaz marries Ruth and they have a child*. Ruth places the child in Naomi’s arms- and Naomi’s husk is no longer empty. Her arms are full again. The God she worships has not forgotten her.
Do you ever feel like Naomi? Like an empty husk? Are there parts of your life that resemble a husk more than a flowering or fruitful vine? Do you feel God has forgotten you?
We fill our “husk plates” with food and bread… trusting in His promises for more than we can imagine, trusting He has not forgotten us or our “empty husks”.
Would you like to join in, too? Place an empty husk (or plate) on the table, and in faith, pray, and trust God to fill the empty husks in your life.
*Footnote to this story: The name of Boaz and Ruth’s son was Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse, and Jesse had a son named David. Jesus comes through this family line. What a testimony of God’s grace and mercy, what grace to Naomi and Ruth. Beautiful!