"Do the seeing really see?" is an intriguing question asked by the world-famous blind author and lecturer Helen Keller. During one of her lectures, she reminisced to a time where she had asked numerous husbands the colour of their wives' eyes. Despite being in intimate relationships with their spouses for decades, the husbands didn't remember right away.
Apart from plants, the ability to see is a marvellous sense that the all-wise Creator has bestowed upon his living creations. Even though the gift of seeing is an amazing wonder in and of itself, it also needs to be said that lasting, fruitful relationships are not just simply built upon what you see physically in an individual, but also how you perceive them on the inside; what one wisely perceives in them. Do we truly see all that "we need to see" in a person, whatever the circumstances? Or are our perceptions and the relationships thereof with a person built more on external and materialistic factors? Simply put, when first meeting somebody new (the first true step in relationship building) do we remain "at see level" (limiting our perception of an individual to what is physically visible), or do we rise "above see level"? In other words, do we try to see beyond the physical realm when forming a first impression about that person?
In this message, yours truly will aim to cast his spotlight on three instances in The Bible where the main characters and their deepening relationships with another individual focused on invisible spiritual factors, rather than the plainly visible physical ones. These perceptive souls would also subsequently reap the Divine blessings for their wise perceptivity!
"But Ruth replied, 'Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!'" (Ruth 1:16-17 NLT)
Welcome to the quite familiar "rags to riches" story of Ruth. This timeless, touching story throws up new insights every single time we study it. What was the turning point in this riveting "poverty to prosperity" account? No doubt that this moment is set in stone, so to speak, in chapter one, verse 16. Ruth says, "I'm accepting my mother-in-law's God as my God, mother-in-law's people as my people." By saying so, she walks into the Sovereign and Secure hands of God (read Covenantal relationship).
But what made her take this "leap of faith"? The events at the beginning of chapter two may provide us with a clue. Ruth says that she would like to go and glean in some of the fields as per the Levitical law, which states that "the reapers during the harvest should not pick up any stray grain or crop... it is for the poor and the widows and foreigners to come and glean..." (Lev 19:9). How could Ruth, a Moabite, have known about this Law? Certainly, she would have become knowledgeable about this thanks to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who would have surely educated her in these matters. It's this familiarity with Naomi's unique God of Covenant (Deu 8:18/Neh 9:32), and His word which accorded so much importance to the "weak and poor" of society, at a time where which the social law of the land was "Might is right"; that had made Ruth cling to her mother-in-law as iron-filings cling to a magnet. Amazingly so (one can say), since her mother-in-law herself had given the widowed Ruth the right to remarry!
Ruth was from Moab; there were no such laws in place that would care for the poor and the needy. But even as she came to know more about God's laws, His Word, which was oriented towards the welfare of the poor and needy, she knew she was dealing with a God who is different. That is what made her take that first step; that leap of faith. Virtually at a time when before her was the forlorn image of a poor, helpless widow, Ruth perceived at that defining moment something else. With this seemingly helpless woman was the very presence of God, who had bound himself into a covenantal relationship with her. By binding herself to her mother-in-law, she would be binding herself to that same benevolent God of her mother-in-law as well!
After this turning point in her life, the Redeemer God would:
a) One day guide her steps not only to the field of Boaz, her kinsman redeemer (Psalm 37:23), but straight into the latter's heart.
b) That she would one day become not only the co-owner of the very fields in which she went to glean, but also be one of the pro-genitors of the Messiah Himself.
This is all now part of well-chronicled history (Matt 1:5).
But what was the "key" to all the "blessings" and the "privileges" which came rushing Ruth's way? Her ability to rise above the normal "see level", and to perceive her mother-in-law all that would inspire her to throw in her lot with the latter.
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire "Rising Above the 'See' Level" mini-series, please click here.)