The name Mara is a beautiful name, easily flows off the tongue and sounds old fashioned and sweet like a perfect first or middle name. If we weren't doing K themed names I would have looked at the name and thought it's a beautiful, simple sounding name, different enough that if I called her name she would turn her head only. Mara.
We began a new series today at church: the study of Ruth, my favorite book of the Bible. The love story of Ruth and Boaz may have started out as why this 4 chapter book was my favorite, but as I have grown in understanding of what a kinsman redeemer is--this is not the reason, though lovely and endearingly sweet, it was always to me a reminder of what Christ had done for me.
Kinsman Redeemer: ga'al in the Greek means: to avenge, redeem from slavery, redeem from death, redeem from bondage. This is what Boaz saved Ruth and Naomi from: from death, slavery, he was their avenger. By custom, if one son dies and the other is not married, he would take the wife of his deceased brother, but in this case, the father and both sons died. The next of kin or the rightful redeemer, if you will, was not interested in taking a wife as he would loose his inheritance (Ruth 4:6). So Boaz redeemed Ruth and Naomi by buying all that was owned by Elimelech (Naomi's husband), Chilion and Mahlon (Ruth and Orpah's husbands, Naomi's sons).
As I studied in the book of Ruth, in our precepts, Jesus is my Kinsman Redeemer. Paying wages for my sins, taking on the cross and dying in place. I am not in the family of Israel, I cannot graph myself into the family. I have not married into the line of David or Jesse or Abraham, I cannot even try. I am not apart of God's chosen people, but by Jesus' gracious act of mercy, he paid the wages, he allowed me to live when I deserved to die, Boaz is a picture reference and points to what Christ has done for all of us. I love this story. I love finding all the times and circle in pink the word Redeemer in the Word as I'm reading it to remind my heart of this very story (of which everyone should read it...it's only 4 chapters!) of the picture of my and your redemption.
So what's the story with Mara? Naomi's name means "my delight". However, after the loss of her husband and two sons, she asked others to call her Mara, which means bitterness. As my pastor shared this morning, this was a feeling she had from all her calamities. She was sad then bitter.
It made me stop to think about all that I had endured in my life, my life does not compare to the loss that Naomi and Ruth had suffered, but was my reaction in bitterness. I don't think Naomi wallowed in her bitterness, that she was so grieved that she could not go on, as the story continues to display that she allowed Ruth to stay with her and she helped Ruth find Boaz. After Ruth came home from gleaning the fields, she fed her. I just think at that moment when someone was asking her our now days surfacey question of "how are you?" She was overwhelmed with sorrow and bitterness came through.
Oh, how it rears it's ugly head in my heart. Mara can tend to be my name as well. When after a phone call that my brother had another seizure, being rushed to the hospital, wasn't responding. Why Adam again? (He is doing ok now, praise the Lord!) A friend of Adam's passed away last week, a friend like Adam, with Autism. Why? Why doesn't Adam get the opportunity to be "normal". So many whys in my life.
My heart goes directly to sadness, then to bitterness. I know God has a purpose, He certainly did with Ruth. She was not an Israelite. She married an Israelite, but she was faithful to God, even though He was not known to her as a Moabite. She became a believer in God when she said my favorite part, "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God (Ruth 1:16)." Ruth and Boaz bore a son named Obed, Obed had a son named Jesse and Jesse had a son King David. If you'll recall, Jesus was in the lineage of David. Ruth had a King in her lineage and the King of Kings. God has a purpose. A Purpose.
This today was a good reminder of the fact that Mara can be me at times. That my bitterness can define me. What a quick reminder to go back to the cross, go back to the remembrance that Jesus was my redeemer. That he has already paid the penalty for my bitterness and that God hasn't forgot me. He hasn't forgot about Adam. God certainly has not forgotten about you, also.
Lord please as I am facing trials, help me not to be Mara, even when I cannot see your purpose, your will and your way. Help me to lean on you for understanding and be thankful that you already paid the price for my redemption, a fee so great it caused your Son to die. A perfect lamb, who committed no sin, who died for me. Thank you for sending Jesus to be my Kinsman Redeemer. Amen.