Read: Ruth 1-4; Philippians 3:20
If my father were still alive, he would turn 100 years old on July 4 of this year. Two things I know for certain about him that would still ring true even at the age of 100. First, he would continue to vote for the same political party that he admired, and Second, of the utmost importance, he would still love his Chicago Cubs. Yes, the "lovable Losers" as they are affectionately called would continue to be special to him. This was true, in spite of the fact that they never won a World Series in Dad's 87 years of life. If he had been alive to see them win in 2016, it would have been a dream come true for him. After all, prior to that year, all Cub fans had the same mantra, spoken every autumn. ‘Wait till next year!’
On July 2, 2021, Wrigley Field, home to the Cubs, was the setting for an even greater dream that came true for 172 people. There were 40 from India, and 45 countries were represented. Each person, no matter his background or story had one thing in common. Each became a naturalized citizen of the United States on that special day. They now have both new privileges and responsibilities. Each one is beginning a new chapter, and none has to wait till next year.
In today's scripture reading, we read about Orpah, Ruth and Naomi, three widows who lived in the country of Moab. Naomi was a citizen of Israel who was getting ready to go back home. Orpah was her daughter-in-law who made the choice to remain in her home country of Moab. Then there is Ruth. She was also Naomi's daughter-in-law; however, she made a life-changing choice that Orpah never made. When Naomi urged both the young widows whom she obviously loved, to stay in Moab, only Ruth chose the path that would lead to Israel. She left her family and her people. She left her homeland and her gods. She chose a new life with new customs and she chose the Living God to be her God, Ruth 2:12. Her mother-in-law Naomi didn't give Ruth much hope that things would go well for the newcomer to Israel. Naomi laid all her cards on the table. There would be no son born to Naomi who would grow up to marry Ruth. No, Naomi was simply too old for that. Naomi offered no promise of an easy life in Ruth's new country. In truth, she appears to have allowed Ruth to accompany her to Israel only because Ruth wouldn't take no for an answer.
Who could have known as this new adventure began that the seeds were being planted for a dream to come true? If Ruth had a dream of something sweet in her new land, we're not told about it. Yet, she went. She pulled up stakes, abandoning everything she knew much like Abram did, Genesis 12:1-3. What did Ruth find in her new nation? She found work to sustain both herself and her mother-in-law, Ruth 2. Yet, as we read her story, we learn that there was much more than work. There was the providential hand of God, and since she had taken refuge in Him, as we read Ruth's story, we see that He has been guiding her even though she didn't know what awaited her. God guided Ruth to the right field in which to glean, and he guided her to the man Boas who would become her husband. No, it seems unlikely that either Ruth or Naomi had a dream that they hoped would come true when they entered Israel; however, God had fashioned a dream for them. The new citizen of Israel would be included not only in her new country but also in the lineage of Jesus, Matthew 1:5. Her new life became full of both responsibilities and privileges which began when she left what was familiar to cling to Naomi and her God.
We have much in common with Ruth. We too, have left our old land with its ways and its gods. We have become new creations, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Even though it isn't likely that we had to travel to a new country, when we received Jesus, among the precious things that became ours is the truth that we became citizens of heaven, Philippians 3:20. We now enjoy dual citizenship. We belong to our home countries, but we also have a real place waiting for us, John 14:1-3, because of our having placed our trust in the Savior/Redeemer. Revelation 22 describes the place where we will live. It is a real country with indescribable beauty, 1 Corinthians 2:9. It is a place of great joy where the Lord is, Psalm 16:11. The beauty is that each day, we walk closer to this incredible new country whose builder and architect is God, Hebrews 11:16.
Like all citizens, we who belong to Jesus have new responsibilities and privileges that came along with our becoming citizens of heaven. We are learning not only our new identity but how to live in a way that pleases our King Jesus, Ephesians 5:8-10. That is because it is our growing desire that God's will be done and His Name honored here on earth as it is already done in the heavenly country, Matthew 6:9-10.
Because of Jesus, each of His children has a dream which will surely come true, and it is gives us great joy not only to think about all that is waiting for us, but also to share this Good News with others.