Three things about this book:
1. I expected it to be good because Liz Curtis Higgs wrote it. I mean, she could scrawl her name across a grocery list and I’d put my name on a waiting list to read it.
2. I didn’t think I needed its message.
3. I was right. And I was wrong.
Higgs is a masterful storyteller, and in The Girl’s Still Got It, she takes us verse by verse through the biblical book of Ruth. Don’t let that scare you, though. It’s a Bible study, but it’s unlike any other Bible study I’ve read. Higgs has a way of taking her readers on a journey without ever leaving their homes. She artfully paints the scene of the story so the reader sees, hears and feels. She faithfully researches the time period so she can fill in the blanks with accurate details of the character’s lives.
The book of Ruth is only four chapters long and Higgs takes 12 chapters to teach us about Ruth, a Moabite (i.e. nonbeliever), and her mother-in-law, Naomi, an Israelite. The women are widowed and childless, in need of a change. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem to the family she left years before with her husband and sons. Ruth determines to go with her, voicing her commitment as a binding covenant:
“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
It’s a remarkable story of a daughter-in-law’s care and service to her mother-in-law — a humbling and convicting lesson for all of us daughters-in-law — and an encouragement that no matter what circumstances may be saying to the contrary, God isn’t finished with us yet.
On the first page of the book, it was this message that surprised me. Higgs writes:
“Resist the urge to say you’re too old, too young, too busy, too scared, too worn out, too washed up, too anything to be useful to God.”
Have you been there? I’m there now. Where I once had hope that I could be used by God, I’ve now begun to doubt that He has any use for me at all.
This, friends, is where the message of Ruth meets the messes of life.
Even though Naomi is the older character in the book, I connect more with her. She’s been dealt a rotten hand in life, so it seems, and she doesn’t sugarcoat how she feels about that. Her name, which can mean “pleasant,” is of no comfort to her and when she returns to her hometown, she tells her friends to call her Mara, which means “bitter,” instead.
Naomi speaks honestly about her feelings that God has dealt harshly with her and left her empty. And God responds through the actions of Ruth and the male lead, Boaz to remind Naomi that He has not forgotten her and in fact has good plans for her life.
But don’t let me tell you the whole story. Read it for yourself. Here’s a sample of the first chapter. Or watch the trailer below.
FAVORITES: Higgs uses honest examples from her life. And each chapter concludes with a real-life example of the principles found in Ruth. The book reminds each of us that we’re not alone in our struggles.
FAULTS: The book of Ruth already reads like a novel. Higgs breaks out verses (and partial verses) to study, so it’s hard to get a flow for the action as found in the Bible. But a quick read of the four chapters beforehand to familiarize yourself with the story should take care of that. Then let Higgs add to your understanding with her research and insights.
IN A WORD: Delightful. Ruth and Naomi feel like long-lost girlfriends after reading this, and Higgs’ storytelling abilities are the reason. Far from dry, this book is pure joy.
FINE PRINT: The book goes on sale next month. In exchange for this review, I received an advance reading copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
FUN STUFF: Liz raps the story of Ruth. Check out the Righteous Ruth Rap here.
FREE STUFF: If you want a chance to win your own copy, click the link below and give my review a rating (1-5 stars). All you have to give in return is your e-mail address. One click and you’re automatically entered to win a copy of the book.