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Small Stories Matter in God’s Big Story

I work in full-time college ministry, and I see God at work in the small stories every day. One guy I met during my first year in ministry was a sophomore named Ed. Ed was a criminal justice major and had no plans of going into full-time ministry. I mentored him for a few years, and when he graduated, I had what I thought was an insignificant conversation with him. I said, “Ed, I know you’re going to work as a cop, and you’ll be a great one. I just don’t want you to graduate without saying I think you could also be a great full-time missionary one day. I could see you doing that.”

Small conversation, right? I thought so. Well, Ed did become a cop, but then a few years later, God used that conversation to help Ed realize God was calling him into full-time campus ministry. He’s been a college missionary for about a decade now, has led many, many students to Christ, and is now in college ministry in New York City, one of the most influential cities in the world. He’s still leading people to Jesus!

As I was studying Ruth 2 this morning, I was reminded of that story of Ed and how small stories matter in God’s big story.

Ruth, a seemingly insignificant woman from the land of Moab (an enemy of Israel), was chosen by God to be the great-great (and many more greats) grandmother of Jesus. There must be a reason God chose Ruth. He could have used any other upstanding women of Ruth’s day to be Jesus’s descendant. Why Ruth?

In Ruth 1, we learn that Ruth’s story started out with desolation and emptiness. Naomi, her mother-in-law, moved with her father-in-law Elimelech and their two sons to Moab due to a famine. Ruth married one of the sons, but both sons as well as Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and Ruth in utter poverty and in danger. In fact, Ruth could have gone back to her own family and lived there, but she made a dangerous vow to Naomi saying she would take care of her until death separated them: “Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.” They moved back to Naomi’s home town of Bethlehem just in time for the harvest.

In Ruth 2, we’re introduced to a man named Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s with impeccable character and who showed great kindness to Ruth. Naomi sent Ruth to glean in the fields, and when Boaz saw her in his field, he asked who she was. Hearing that Ruth was the Moabite who showed such lavish kindness to his relative Naomi, he invited her to eat with him and said to her, “The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” He then told her to only glean in his field, so that she wouldn’t be harmed and so that she and Naomi would be provided for.

There’s more to this story, and the plot actually thickens in Ruth 3. We get enough of the story in Ruth 2, however, that we can see how Ruth’s small story is such a big deal in God’s big story of redemption.

Ruth showed extravagant kindness to Naomi by essentially sacrificing her life to move with her back to Bethlehem to take care of her for the rest of her days. This was risky because they were homeless and had no money. After hearing Ruth’s story and how she showed so much kindness to his relative Naomi, Boaz showed extravagant kindness to Ruth. His kindness goes even further in the next chapter, but we get the point. When Ruth chose God over her false gods in Moab, she put herself under God’s protection, like a mother bird’s wings protecting her babies, and God took care of her. Not only that, but he chose her to be the grandmother of King David and of Jesus.

Ruth’s small story mattered, and so does ours. Just as Ruth and Naomi needed rescued by Boaz, we needed rescued by God. Ruth’s great grandchild, Jesus, would come when we were empty and desolate spiritually, separated from God because of our sin. By accepting Jesus into our hearts, we can accept his kindness and put ourselves under his protective wings.

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photo credit: Andrej Chudy Allen’s Hummingbird via photopin (license)

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About Chad Young

Chad Young works in full-time college ministry, serving as Cru Global’s national director over the southeast region, leading the ministries in FL, GA, AL, and MS. He has served on the staff of Cru for fifteen years. He is the author of Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony, Superficial World (InterVarsity Press), a discipleship-training manual, and magazine articles for Worldwide Challenge and The Collegiate. He frequently speaks at retreats and conferences and regularly writes devotionals for his website, findingauthenticchristianity.com. Chad, with his wife Elizabeth, travels the country to speak at churches and train church leaders how to make Biblical disciples. Chad currently resides in Atlanta, GA, with his wife Elizabeth and their four young children, Wyatt, Clark, Evelyn, and Josilynn. His hobbies include cheering on his kids in sports, following college football, and laughing with family around the backyard fire pit.
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