This is part 3 of 4 of the story of 2 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.
Read Part 1 about Fear, Pain & Darkness here.
Read Part 2 about The Power of Friendship here.
Encountering Problems: Hunger and Homelessness
Ruth on Hunger
We were so hungry that we stopped feeling hungry. Hunger was just our normal state. But I was growing dizzy and faint, and judging by the way Naomi kept stumbling into me, she was faring worse.
When we finally came upon a field, I thought I was seeing a mirage. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. The whole corner of the field was filled with un-raked grain, which seemed to be free for the taking.
I thought either the reapers weren’t good at their jobs, or they would soon be returning to finish. Naomi assured me that they left it for us.
The journey must have affected Naomi’s mind. She was delirious. How could they have left this grain for us? They could not have known we were coming.
Naomi explained the harvesters were following the Lord Almighty’s law. The Lord commanded His people to leave a corner of their field partially un-harvested for people like us: the foreigners, the widows, and orphans. Failure to obey this law is a punishable offense.
A sense of awe and gratitude overtook me. I had always thought the laws of the land were to protect the rich and important people and punish the weak and powerless. Who was this God who cared if I lived or died? Who was I that God would not let someone like me wither away?
I started gathering grain among the sheaves behind the harvesters. The owner of the field, Boaz, kept glancing in my direction. He seemed to be asking about me. And then he seemed to be walking toward me.
As he approached, my heart was pounding. I was worried he would tell me it was time to find a new field … that I had taken enough from him.
His kind voice and his smile cut through my anxiety. “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field, and don’t go away from here. I won’t let my men lay a hand on you!”
At this, I bowed down with my face to the ground. I didn’t understand why I had found such favor in his eyes or why he even noticed me at all — a lowly foreigner.
His generosity didn’t stop there. He shared his bread and water and sent me back to Naomi with more than enough food for both of us.
Here’s Jill again with Mary’s perspective.
Mary on Housing (or the lack thereof)
by Jill Hicks
Breathe in. Breathe out. Elizabeth said it can help with the pains.
I’m so tired. And everything hurts. I wish the angel would come back and remind me of how excited I used to feel. I wish I could see God to know for sure that he is here with me.
But I have been feeling this little glimmer of hope since we started out on our journey. Maybe having the baby all the way down in Bethlehem means something I don’t completely understand. At least it’s a little bit nicer here than our poor little Nazareth!
I can’t wait to see the baby’s face. Will he look like me? Will he look like … God? That doesn’t even make sense.
But right now the pains are getting stronger, and so close together! And we can’t find anywhere to stay. All of these people from Joseph’s family line are here … plus crowds of people we don’t even know … and every place is totally full.
It’s mostly my fault we’re so late to Bethlehem. We had to go so slow the whole time. Riding has been awful. But my ankles are so swollen, it hurts to walk. And it seemed like we had to stop the donkey every ten minutes so I could go to the bathroom…!
It’s so hard to breathe. I can tell it’s not going to be much longer. Why won’t anybody just let us in so I can lie down for a minute?
Maybe Joseph’s relatives heard all the rumors. Maybe they don’t want to let us in. I wish God would just send one more angel to one more house so that they’ll understand!
But there haven’t been any more angel visits since the beginning. And God didn’t even tell my parents what was going on. They’ve been so embarrassed. Everybody whispered about me at the market for months. I wish I didn’t feel so alone!
At least Adonai gave Joseph back to me. I remember the look on his face when I came back from Zechariah and Elizabeth’s house and told him I was pregnant. He was so crushed, and he just left, and I cried myself to sleep. But then he came back and said an angel had visited him too. He grabbed my hand. And all the hope came back, and I knew God had given the baby and me somebody to take care of us after all.
But Joseph has had a really hard time. People treated him strangely when he brought over their woodworking orders. Then he was working so hard on our little house, but the Roman soldiers came through town with their big decree that everybody had to go back to their towns of origin for this huge census. Joseph is one of King David’s descendants, so we had to travel all the way here to David’s town, Bethlehem. And who knows how long we’ll have to stay? I was just getting into the whole nesting thing … and now I can’t even be at home to deliver my own baby!
Where AM I going to deliver this baby??
Why is everything happening this way? The angel said I was blessed, but none of this feels like blessing. Alone in a strange town, far away from my own home. None of my aunts and cousins are here to help me. No midwives. And just look at Joseph. He looks terrified. He’s never caught a baby! Men don’t do birth-y things!
It’s getting dark. And I can’t breathe. This baby wants to come now. If Yahweh would just open up a place for us to go! I thought he promised to take care of me …
At this point I don’t even care if I have this baby in a barn, this hurts so bad! Is God here with us at all??
To be continued…
Tomorrow (Christmas Day): Redemption and New Life