When I was a little girl, I always loved baking cookies with my Mom. The best part was when I “helped” her clean the mixing bowl.
Many people have fond memories of their Moms letting them “lick the bowl”: that is, scraping up and eating the bits of leftover cookie dough on the sides of the bowl.
My Mom would go one better than that, however. She’d deliberately leave not just the scrapings, but extra spoonfuls of cookie dough in the bowl for me to eat. Sometimes I wonder if more of the dough ended up in my stomach than on the cookie sheets to bake!
Isn’t God like that with us, too? He sometimes gives us unexpected favour or extra blessings in our lives just to show us how much He loves us.
We find an illustration of this favour in the beautiful Biblical story of Ruth.
The family that Ruth married into was no stranger to tragedy. They’d had to leave Israel due to famine and settle in neighbouring Moab. Her father-in-law had died, and then ten years later Ruth’s own husband died, as well as her brother-in-law. Her mother-in-law Naomi decided to return to Israel now that the famine was over, and urged Ruth to return to her hometown in Moab, in the hopes she could marry again and finally have children.
But Ruth showed uncommon loyalty and kindness to Naomi. She must have loved her dearly, for she insisted on accompanying her mother-in-law to Israel, a land foreign to Ruth, so she could continue to care for her. In the beautiful words of the King James Version of the Bible, Ruth declares to Naomi:
“Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
Ruth’s commitment and loving devotion to Naomi would not go unrewarded. God had something special in store for both of them. It came about through a man named Boaz.
Being widows, the two women found themselves in a state of poverty. Ruth set to work gleaning grain to supply herself and Naomi with food. In those days, widows and the poor were permitted to gather up the grain left in the corners or borders of the landowner’s fields, after the main harvest had been reaped. One day, Ruth happened to be gleaning in a field owned by Boaz.
Boaz had heard about Ruth’s kindness to Naomi, a relative of his, and repaid that kindness by seeing to it that his hired hands treated Ruth with respect. That would have been enough, but Boaz went one better than that.
He also told his hired hands to leave handfuls of grain on purpose for Ruth, so that when she was gleaning in his field, she’d get an extra supply. Thanks to Boaz’ generosity, Ruth collected more than enough barley to feed her and Naomi.
This story, which begins with kindnesses, ends in love. Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son named Obed. The boy becomes like a son to Naomi, who had lost both her adult sons. Thus through this “chance” encounter with Boaz, God blesses both widows. He gives them favour and a new beginning to make up for the tragedies they’d experienced. The destinies of Ruth and Naomi are dramatically changed, for Obed will become the grandfather of King David, and an ancestor of Christ Himself.
Boaz, of course, is a picture of God’s own generosity and kindness to us. Just like my Mom leaving extra cookie dough for me to eat, God will often leave us “handfuls on purpose,” instances of surprising blessings or unanticipated favour. He’ll sometimes use chance encounters to bring the right people into our lives, which will change our destinies.
If you’ve been like Ruth, devotedly serving others and trusting in the Lord, God may have some unexpected favour in store for you. It may come in the form of a new friend coming into your life just when you need someone, a job that you didn’t think you’d be chosen for, finding a godly spouse when you’d almost given up hope, or a business deal working out better than you had any right to expect.
Whatever form it takes, you’ll know that it’s God leaving you “handfuls on purpose.” Accept the blessing with gratitude and praise to our generous, merciful God.
And if you’re baking cookies with someone you love, leave some extra dough on purpose and let them “lick the bowl”!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.