How do you want to be remembered?
As I've been preparing to leave Washington and Lee, I've been wondering what my legacy will be. I want to be remembered as kind, attentive, godly, patient, funny. Things like that. Will that happen? Well, things didn't quite work out for a Staff good-bye here on campus, so I'll have to keep wondering. A legacy usually takes a while to come to the surface anyway. I find that maddening.
I'd love to know now what kind of legacy I'll have, as a Staffworker, as a Small Group leader, as a friend, as a husband, as a father. But that has to wait for later. I want to know now because I want to control my legacy, to do the sort of things that get remembered fondly. But the desire to control is a dangerous, Edenic desire.
The desire to control your legacy can backfire. Desperation. Compromise. Pick your poison. Better to do what's right than what's designed to be memorable. Perhaps the right will be remembered, but even if not...
What's the worst that can happen? The Lord remembers us, no matter what.
There's an interesting twist in the Ruth-story. A new character is introduced late in the game. Ruth proposes to Boaz in chapter 3 and Boaz essentially says "Yes," but there's someone in line ahead of him.
So, Boaz approaches the closer kinsman-redeemer. And here you see a little saavy. He could have approached the dude like this:
Boaz: So, even though Naomi and Ruth have been back here in Bethlehem for three months, I notice that you still haven't stepped up as their kinsman-redeemer. Que pasa? Any intention of marrying Ruth and giving her another kid?
Dude: Actually, I already have a family...
Boaz: Did I mention that if you marry Ruth you get this pretty sweet field?
Dude: Really? Hmmm...I'll have to think about
Instead, Boaz starts by mentioning the field. Strategic. The field is a big asset (they don't make land any more), but the widow, now she's another story (big risk, big liability). Boaz used a negative foot-in-the-door negotiation technique. Get him on the hook, amp the cost, and get him to bail. Classic.
And the Dude wasn't really named The Dude. That name's reserved for someone else.
Actually, in Ruth 4, the man is name Peloni Almoni. I know, right. With a name like Peloni Almoni he had to get beat up a lot in the village gate. Peloni Almoni isn't a real name. It means something like "old so and so."
The fact that the new character gets named "old so and so" is actually pretty ironic. Old so and so refused to marry Ruth because he didn't want his family name to be forgotten. If he married Ruth and had a kid by her, his family line might be diluted. Forget duty. Forget the law. Forget these widows. I don't want to be forgotten.
His name was forgotten. Boaz' was remembered.
Boaz was the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David. David. David. David. The only person bigger than David is Jesus (and debatably John Lennon, if you take his word on it, but why would you take his word on it?).
Boaz did the right thing and was remembered. Ruth did the right thing and was remembered. They weren't concerned with their legacy, yet they have a fantastic legacy.
Would that it were so with us!