In Hebrew the name Ruth means companion, or friend, or a vision of beauty.
A name that’s been floating around in my head a lot lately, a lot more than usual, and I just can’t seem to shake this name, to shake her face from the images in my mind. And I’m wondering where she is right now? What she is doing? Is she gardening with the other widows? Is she taking care of her many children? Is she picking mangos and placing them into hands of complete strangers, the way she did with me? Is she even still alive? Or is she up in heaven, dancing on golden streets with Jesus? These question plague me, because deep down I know I may never know the answers.
In these moments and small memories, I’m seeing how much this little old widow impacted my life. In the very limited time I spent with her, she allowed me to see myself in a different light, in a loving light. She looked at me like I was wanted, like I was needed. Me, a complete stranger. She made me feel at home in the palm of her hands. Her rough hands holding tightly to mine, dragging me along a path to a garden and to houses and to mango trees. All the while chatting away in a language I yearned to understand. And I remember her uttering a singe phrase and clinging tightly to my hand. I smiled at her and nodded pretending like I understood. And the pastor we were with, turned and said “Cami, do you understand what she just told you?” I laughed and said “No.”
And the pastor looked between me and Ruth and smiled and said “She said ‘in you daughter, I see the radiance of Christ.”
I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. In no way did I ever feel like I was radiating Christ, I constantly felt dirty and grimy, like I was constantly in the way. And yet even in those dirty, disgusting, selfish moments, God broke through and shed his light onto the face of a widow.
And I just hope I’m still radiating.I hope that this bright light hasn’t burnt out in the whirlwind of this world and of this life. That even if it has dulled, it’s still burning and shining through in all my moments. That Christ is being radiated from my life.
Why am I sharing this story?
Because my heart hurts, it aches to know where Ruth is, how her health is, how her children are, how her garden is? It yearns to ask these question, to hold the worn hands of my companion, my friend, this vision of beauty in an otherwise dim hard ugly moment of my life.
But not only that. It’s because I think we often forget how much we can impact the lives around us. It’s been two years and I still remember the words Ruth spoke into my life. I still remember the feel of her overworked hands in my delicate ones. I remember her laughter and her brown eyes, and the way her hair was wrapped up in her conga. I can’t forget her.
Recently in small groups we were talking about the Healing at Bethesda. And this got me thinking a lot about how graceful Jesus is. Jesus sought out this crippled man and asked him if he wanted to be healed and then healed him. He spoke words into his life that caused this man to pick up his mat and walk. Was this man worthy of healing, no not really. He turned around and betrayed Jesus, like Judas, to the Jewish leaders. And yet look at HIS grace. He heals him anyway, evening knowing that this once crippled man will use this gift, this healing of his legs to walk right to the leaders and tell them it was Jesus!
Jesus seriously blows my mind!
You see I started comparing this story to my own life. I was, am, and sometimes I know will continue to be this invalid man by the pool, waiting for someone to pick me up and take me where I need to go. That I am unworthy of the healing being offered, because in my heart I know, just like the crippled man, that I will betray Jesus again. And it hurts.
But I’ve seen this story in John take root in my life. With Ruth. At the time of meeting Ruth I was battling, I was sick of everything I was. And then words were spoken into my life that caused healing in my heart and continue to heal me every day since then. And I believe that Jesus reached through Ruth to me. And How do you tell a woman 8000 miles away that Jesus has used her, continues to use her. That in her I see the radiance of Christ. Every single day of my life.
You see like in John, the man couldn’t find anyone to lift him into the pool, and I couldn’t find anyone to fulfill the emptiness I kept seeing in my worthlessness. But Jesus, met the man where he was at, and Ruth grabbed my hand and pulled me back to Christ all the way in Tanzania.
Because even though the man had no way to get to Jesus. Jesus could get to him. And in that time in my life and even now, there are days I just can’t seem to get there. Can’t seem to reach Him. But even thought I can’t get to Jesus, He can always, always get to me. He never fails, never gives up.
And lately I’ve been feeling like I just don’t belong in this place. I feel lonesome, not alone, just lonesome. And Jesus keeps reaching out and tugging me along, reminding me what I’m here for, what my life is for.
I was not made to live a luxurious life, to have the fancy cars and clothes and money. I was made to walk barefoot on unknown roads, to meet people where they are, just like Him. I was made to follow in His footsteps, to live a life set apart.
And it’s so not easy. The desires of this world often overtake me. I stress, I panic, I anguish. And yet He is here walking with me. And I hear the words in Sakuma in my head and then translated into English. “In you daughter I see the radiance of Christ.”
I just hope that I can continue to live out the words that Ruth saw. That I can continue to meet people where they are and speak words of love, encouragement, and Jesus into their lives. That regardless of how bad I think things are, Jesus makes it better.
That I continue to stretch the limits of my faith, knowing that Jesus is pulling me along, that I’m going to be just fine and wherever He decides to take me and whoever He places in front of me, I will reach out in love no matter what. I will be slow to anger and abounding in love.
My hope is that this radiance that Ruth saw, seeps into every motion and ever fiber of my being. That wherever Ruth is, she will see this radiance in herself and others will see it to. We never know how we impact the people around us, and we never know how the people around impacts us.
But isn’t it such a beautiful story when Jesus reaches down and meet us where we’re at.
Sitting in Awe of the Wonders of His Love,
HIS and yours,