I mentioned awhile back that I had joined the Moms of Master Books review team!We receive one brand-spankin’ new book each month from New Leaf Publishing Group to review (free of charge) and share with you. Last time we reviewed the Children’s Atlas of God’s World (which my kiddos are still in love with!). This time they sent a book that I think God intended more for my heart this month more than the munchkins (although my crew still can’t get over looking at the amazing photography!).
This month I received I Am Ruth by Brenda Duff with amazing photography by Kenneth Berg.
I’m very familiar with the book of Ruth.
It was long a favorite of mine when I was younger. To be honest, at first it was because it was very short, and short equated to do-able to me at the time. (I’m just being honest here, but I have not always been the Bible reader I am now–and even now I could use more discipline in this area!) On the surface it was also easy to understand–and a lot of the Bible isn’t. You could pick it up, read for an hour, know what the story was, and be done. I was also very young and didn’t understand the depth of the family relationships and the concept of “in-laws” was all second-hand experience from my own limited and close-knit family experience.
Then God brought extended family relationships intimately into my life.
And God brought deep, abiding grief into my life.
And God brought the beginnings of biblical maturity into my life, showing me that Bibles stories are not for our entertainment, but for our edification.
And it turned out that I didn’t like the book of Ruth so much any more. I actually kinda shied away from it because there are lessons in there about familial love, obedience, and laying aside of grief that I just didn’t want to tackle. Besides there’s 65 other books of the Bible that I was ready to dive into and I already knew the story of Ruth.
And then this book came to the door.
And I wanted to ignore it. Let this month pass. Give it to someone as a beautiful gift. (It is beautiful!) But every time I passed the package sitting on our desk, I just knew I had to open it up and read it. So I grit my teeth and opened it up and started reading…
And it was beautiful!
Much like everything else in my Christian walk before the last few years, my understanding of the story of Ruth was so naive and immature! I don’t even like to refer to it as “the Book of Ruth” any more because this book opened my eyes to how the story of Ruth wraps all through the Bible, forward and backward and all in between. How the story of Ruth is the story of God’s love, not the story of Ruth and Naomi’s suffering or the story of how to be a good daughter-in-law. It reminded me yet again, in yet another way, that the Bible is one book, and one story, and that every page of God’s Word is simply another part of the story of Christ–no matter how many books, testaments, chapters, or verses you break it into.
I guess that’s not much of a book review. But as the NLPG page says “This text brings to light the full humanity found in the biblical account, and makes it personal for every reader who has suffered in life’s shadows longing to see God’s plan.” Ruth is so brave! So courageous! So faithful! This books brings the true hardships of her path home to you and I felt so weak and full of hollow self-pity as I turned the pages.
And yet, the story is one of love. Love, love, love. Down through ages, through generations, through every trial and mishap and mistake…the book reaches backwards and forwards through the Bible to drive home the point that God is faithful to every promise. The last page, listing the genealogy of Christ is such a beautiful conclusion.
It’s actually revived my nerve to jump into a Book of Ruth bible study by Elizabeth George that’s been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now, and I picked up this Book of Ruth movie for a steal for us to enjoy on family movie night soon!
To add a bit of actual “book review” …the book is physically lovely. The photography (the actual scenes are staged in Israel!) is amazing. As with other NLPG books we’ve reviewed, the layout is professional and consistent, easy on the eyes but rich and warm with the black background for the stunning pictures. The paper is thick, high quality, and glossy. I’m not afraid to let the kiddos flip through it.
I did find it a little distracting at first the way the story bounced back and forth in the biblical timeline, but it was an important element to the underlying theme and about half way through I didn’t notice it anymore. The text is probably too advanced for our children’s age group (5,6, and 9) although I definitely think it’s not far off for the Ladybug (9 yo) and might be a beautiful book to read together. This is not a short, one sitting read (at least it wasn’t for me!). It’s not a picture book or story book–although it makes a wonderful coffee table book. (I know NLPG offers a digital download product, but I can’t imagine not having this book in my hands while I read it!)
I also feel like it definitely touched my heart as a woman more than it would a man or our boys–although there’s some great historical context in the story that they will enjoy. I just think the heart of the story of Ruth will resonate more with women. I think this book would make a great teacher or ministry leader gift. You can also find more book reviews for I Am Ruth over at the Moms of Master Books blog.
And I’m sure we’ll be chatting about it more at this months Book and a Treat Facebook Party on September 24, 2013 at 9:00 PM (EST)! (And that “treat” part will probably include giving away a couple copies–but don’t quote me on that!)
Have you read anything lately that touched you deeply?