Now Featured at the Patheos Book Club
Colliding with Destiny
A 30-Day Journey Through the Book of Ruth
By Sarah Jakes
Book Excerpt: From the Introduction
Now that we're adults, my brother and I have created this new tradition. Whenever we stay at my parents' home, we take the opportunity to spend some quality time together. He loves being an uncle to my kids, and I love for them to get to know him. So after the kids have finished their homework, had supper, and taken their baths, we all settle in to relax together. Whether it's watching something on television, spending time talking about each other's day, dancing around to music, or play fighting, we always have fun.
Sometimes we even turn our hanging out into a team sport! Yes, the girls versus the boys, sibling teams versus sibling teams, or school versus school. Everything except for the play fights—that comes down to Malachi, my son, and Dexter, my brother. I just commentate or instigate, proving an important role in the morale of the fight.
One evening recently, we were trying to teach Malachi the art of boxing. Dexter and I would emulate the proper stance, bounce, and posture. But we also stressed the most important factors: heart and attitude. Turning the family room into a makeshift boxing ring, we all burst into laughter as my six-foot-four little brother and five-foot-three son playfully squared off. Imitating Floyd Mayweather and Muhammad Ali, they both turned it all the way on!
After they engaged in this lighthearted contest, I again tried to show Malachi a boxer's stance. At ten years old, he had never seen an actual fight, so he had no clue what to do.
"Watch this," I said and gave my best Laila Ali impression. Bounce, bounce. Bob, weave. Uppercut. Jab, jab. Bounce. Weave. My son, timid in nature, looked up at me with wide eyes.
"But, Mom, I can't even reach his face!" he explained.
I looked at him and smiled. But before I opened my mouth to reply, I heard, "I CAN REACH HIS FACE, MAMA!"
I looked down at my three-year-old, three-foot-high daughter, Makenzie. In perfect Laila Ali stance, down to the rhythm of her bounce, Makenzie was prepared to take on Dex. She had been watching us the whole time. Never recognizing their differences in size, she was ready to face the challenge.
Makenzie had no concept of how much smaller she was in comparison to her competition. All she knew was that she had the heart to fight the battle. It didn't occur to her to be intimidated by someone bigger.
What if we dared to believe with the heart of a child?
Somewhere along the path of life, we start to size up the competition. We start to look at how big the challenge before us is and get discouraged. Little by little, the punches of life begin to bruise our hope. We stop fighting as hard as we once did because we don't believe we can win anymore. We don't block very well because we're expecting the knockout that will end it all. We stop living, out of fear.
Fear is the most shameful ghost of them all. Painful memories of past fights convince us that some things are not worth the risk of fighting at all. We allow our past to dictate our every move. We stand in place and wait for life to hit us again.
Certainly we're taught to always keep the faith. But when life's blows rock us to our core, it's hard to remember that our pain has a purpose. When the aches of what happened, what should have happened, and what could have happened haunt our every decision, keeping the faith can be a challenge.
If disappointments have kept you from being your true self, then this book is for you. My friend, please allow me to share with you the story of Ruth—all of her story, not just the happy ending. We often hear of Ruth having her Boaz, but we rarely discuss the collisions she faced on the road to her destiny. While it's imperative that we remember her legacy, we can only give it value if we see the price she paid for it.
Could it be that if you dare to live again, your story doesn't have to be associated with what broke you? That by doing whatever it takes to survive, you will sow seeds of redemption into your future?
Ruth's story begins with her being an outcast. Shunned in her homeland of Moab because she left the religion of the land and embraced her husband's beliefs, Ruth remained committed to her new husband and new God. And then again, when she returned to her mother-in-law's hometown, Bethlehem, she was shunned for being a foreigner from a pagan land.She carried the burdens of both who she was and who she used to be.
When Ruth worshiped with her husband's family in her hometown, there was a religious differentiation that caused her to be an outcast. She no longer bowed to their idols or prayed to their false gods. In Bethlehem, she was talked about because of her mystery. It was what people didn't know about her that intrigued them the most. She seemed like them, but on the inside she was not the same.