Deep down in the fogginess of nearly forgotten, I see myself at an impound with a friend. One of our cars has been towed, but over the years, I can’t even remember if it was mine or his. Or hers. I’m not actually even sure who I was there with.

But I see the place vividly. It’s really not much more than a junk yard; the office is a trailer. And there are a lot of us there, waiting. We have come back to get what is ours.

I wouldn’t have gone there by myself, even if it were my car. And I feel vulnerable. Really vulnerable. How did we get ourselves into that mess?

And the man in charge, if that’s what you can call it, is just really making more of a mess. The line grows longer as slowly, slowly the papers are filled out, the vehicles are located, the money changes hands, and we drive off, each of us in our own car.

One of us has just paid a lot of money to get back what was already ours to begin with.

As I read the book of Ruth this week, preparing to teach my Wednesday night Bible study, this foggy memory of buying back my own car became clearer and clearer to me. Really, that’s what the book of Ruth is about: God buying back what was already His.

Moab wasn’t exactly a junk yard, but it was a place no self-respecting Israelite would have traveled during the good years. But in a famine, Elimelech had temporarily relocated his family in hopes of survival.

As it turned out, only his wife, Naomi, and the two Moabite women his sons had married, survived; Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion died of what was probably some type of plague. After everything had been taken from them, Naomi and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, eventually made their way back to Bethlehem. Naomi returned to her homeland; Ruth, to a land she had never seen.

But they were vulnerable, really vulnerable. Disenfranchised in every way — female, poor, powerless, their only hope was that a near kinsman would redeem them, buy them back into the family, restore them to the land and to their God. Which is exactly what Boaz did.

Though the book of Ruth is all about redemption, it’s first about returning.

Jesus is waiting for us to return, in fact; He paid a lot of money to get back what was already His to begin with.