By John Greco
I was a kid when I first saw the movie Back to the Future. You probably know the film—Marty McFly travels back to 1955 in a borrowed time machine and accidentally keeps his parents from meeting and falling in love. He then has to figure out how to get his mom and dad together or else he’ll never be born. And he has to do this all the while trying to harness a bolt of lightning so that he and his DeLorean time machine can get back to the present.
It’s a great movie, but I sat in the back of a dark room alone and cried that first viewing. I had just found out my parents were getting a divorce, and so my fragile heart just couldn’t handle the idea of Marty racing against the clock to put his family back together, no matter how fantastical the premise of the movie. I’d have done anything to put my own family back together.
Central to the story of Naomi and Ruth is a broken family, though theirs was not broken by divorce or time travel. Instead, their husbands died in the land of Moab. Ruth, a Moabitess herself, left everything familiar behind to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Bethlehem, the hometown of her deceased husband, Elimelech. But the two women were equally destitute. In those days, a woman without a father or a husband to provide for her was almost certain to spend the remainder of her days in abject poverty. Add to this the fact that this story takes place during the time of the judges, a period in which “everyone did whatever seemed right to him” (Judges 21:25), and it becomes plain: Naomi and Ruth were at the mercy of strangers.
But they were also at the mercy of God. And God is full of mercy.
Boaz may have been the one to marry Ruth. He may have even been the one to restore the line of Elimelech. But it was God who redeemed the family. “The women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel’” (Ruth 4:14).
We are all part of a broken family—broken since the first bite was taken from the forbidden fruit in
the garden. In sin, we are alienated from one another and from our Father in heaven. But God provided a Family Redeemer for us in Jesus Christ. He has shown kindness to us in our desperation, and He is bringing restoration to our splintered family tree. “Look, I am making everything new,” He says (Revelation 21:5). Because of Jesus, we have a future filled with hope. No DeLorean or lightning bolt required.
Written by John Greco
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