This is the 4th and and final part of a four part story of two biblical women, pressing forward despite adversity and used by God despite being lowly outsiders.
For context on this series, including what we wrote this for and why I’m posting it to my blog, read the intro here.
Redemption and New Life
by Libby Sutherland
I’ll be honest: I’d pretty much given up on my life amounting to much. What could I expect, after all?
I was a young widow from an unknown place and from an unknown family. An unwelcome foreigner here in Bethlehem. A beggar dependent upon the lost grains on the harvested field to even survive. I was a burden to my mother-in-law’s family — a stranger that others were beholden to provide for, to protect, to cover. To even have a guaranteed meal every day seemed out of my grasp. My footing was stumbling and uncertain, but all I could do was move forward, wondering how it would all work out.
And now — well, it’s all turned upside down.
That night on the threshing floor, as I reached to pull back the cloth from Boaz’s feet, I just prayed that he would in turn cover me with his garments, offer his protection and be my provision. What I could not know in that moment is that his God, Yahweh, had already spread favor over my life. That it was not only Boaz, but this living God who would be my guardian-redeemer. That his power would be felt in my life, that his care would bring things forth for my good.
The how of this miraculous reversal of station is like a blur. Surely, even in our scheming and plotting, Naomi and I never anticipated such favor. A family-redeemer to be my husband, to be Naomi’s son! A new family, a new dream to redeem the family and the dreams we had lost in Moab.
And a new baby son too. God gave me a son who will be a promise of our family’s continuation and survival. We named him Obed, for he will serve this God that has blessed our family.
This is what God has given me: I have a new family. I have a new purpose. I have a new position. I have a new name. I am “Mother.” I have been given a place. And I am no longer wandering.
And finally, the reason we celebrate Christmas. Libby writes Mary’s perspective on the birth of Jesus.
Mary (and the world) Redeemed
By Libby Sutherland
What they tell you about having a baby is actually true: It’s all worth it in the end. The fear, the pain, the uncertainty that are all so overwhelming turn to relief and joy in just a few seconds.
A few months ago, all I could think was, How? How could I raise a baby, especially a baby king? How could Joseph believe me — and not leave me? How would I face my family? My town? My cousin Elizabeth kept telling me that God would follow through on his promises to bless me …
And he has! Even at the very last minute, when I was terrified I would just have to give birth on the street, Joseph banged on the door of the town inn, and the innkeeper said we could stay in his stable. He could probably tell things were about to get a little crazy! Everything is a blur, but somehow Joseph helped me off the donkey and into the hay. The pain was horrible, but then it was over, and the baby is healthy and strong! It definitely isn’t how I pictured it in my mind, but in the end, it doesn’t matter at all.
What matters is that my son is in my arms! The sweet smell of his wet head, his ruddy little face, his chin that trembles when he cries. He’s so beautiful. I didn’t know how this journey to Bethlehem would play out. But here we are, cushioned by a seat of hay. Instead of all my aunts and midwives surrounding me, there are a lot of cows and donkeys! But God made sure we would be safe.
There’s a feed trough in the corner that just might work for a little bed once Joseph helps me wrap Jesus up in our spare pieces of cloth. Look at my husband, grinning so sweetly at the baby! God has given him this son too. We really are a family now.
How did I ever doubt God’s goodness?
So this is how it feels to be a mother! I want so much for this baby Messiah. I want better than this barn. I want to keep him safe, make him happy, give him anything he wants or needs. But as much as I want to give him, I keep remembering the angel’s message: That Jesus is the one who will give us our freedom back. What can I give him that’s worth more than that?
I’m going to be his mother, but someday Jesus will be my king. He’ll set things right and bring justice to all of Abraham’s family line! He’ll fix our broken land. He’ll free us from our oppressors, and things will be as they should be. Everything I do to take care of him will be nothing compared to everything he will do for all of my people. I can’t wait to see what Jesus is going to do. Who he is going to be.
A few months ago, I was a no-name girl from a poor town, from a no-name family — and yet, God invited ME to be part of this bigger story. He made sure I would be safe. He’s given me favor and a home. A new name, a new family, and a new purpose for my life! But most of all, he’s given me a son who is “God with us.”
Now I know for sure that God is with me. Because I’m looking at his face. And I am no longer wondering.
Merry Christmas everybody!