What comes to mind when you think about a ‘refuge?’ For me, it’s a getaway. Peaceful, calm, probably outside on a not-too-hot or not-too-cold day. Formally, the definition is a place where one is safe. I’m not sure I’ve ever needed safety so badly as to seek ‘refuge.’ After the death of her sons, Naomi returns home to Bethlehem, because that was safest for her; it was her place of refuge. Ruth, her daughter-in-law, chooses to go with her. But for Ruth, now a widowed young woman in a culture in which safety was found in marriage, returning to Bethlehem with Naomi wasn’t a guarantee that she’d be cared for or safe.  

In Ruth 2, we meet Boaz. He’s wealthy, influential, and the owner of a field that Ruth is working in. From a quick read of our passage, Boaz emerges as the person providing refuge for Ruth. He cares about her safety and treats her very well, even though she’s a widowed foreigner in his field. Culturally speaking, this was radical. Boaz did not need to care for Ruth at all! He could’ve kicked her out of his field and sent her on his way. We might be tempted to give credit to Boaz for simply being a good-hearted, God-following guy. He sure is, but notice who he gives credit to.  

“May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” Ruth 2:12 

Even Boaz knows that Ruth’s refuge is in God. In this story, Boaz lives out God’s love in a tangible way. He reminds us that real safety, peace, and love flow from God. What Ruth seemingly has lost as a foreigner and widow in Bethlehem is identity or purpose, but quickly, we see God change that narrative. In God, we have the perfect refuge. God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1 

Questions for reflection: 

  1. We live in a culture that highly values safety and security. In what ways do you trust in your own ability to be ‘safe,’ rather than rely on God’s sovereign safety? (Examples might include too high a value on our money to keep us safe and secure, our comfort, etc…) 
  1. If God were to say to you “leave your places of comfort and follow me,” what would be the hardest things to give up?  
  1. Spoiler alert: This is actually what Jesus says to his disciples!!! “Drop your nets and follow me!” It was uncomfortable, not at all secure in providing for their families, and a little crazy, but they did it. Why? Because they trusted God’s plan. They trusted God to be their refuge. What might God be calling you to drop in order to trust him as your ultimate refuge?