Read Ruth 1:16-18
But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me." When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
The verses above are some of the most quoted in all of Scripture. We hear them repeated often at weddings as the bride and groom declare their faithful love to each other saying, "'til death do us part". To think, these famous words came from a young Moabite widow who was clinging whole-heartedly to her mother-in-law. She was willing to leave behind all that she knew and only to walk blindly into the unknown future.
When thinking about Ruth and her decision, I can't help but wonder why she was so determined to go with Naomi. At this point, we have seen the worst side of Naomi, empty of hope and completely down on life; but I'm not convinced she was this way for the entire decade that she was living in Moab. I would bet that over these ten years, she exemplified her faith in her God in front of both Ruth and Orpah. Moab was messy, but I don't think Naomi was completely void of her faith. She was in the process that we all go through as believers, which is: growth. Naomi's name means "cheerful", and I'm thinking that in these hard trials, she must have at some point displayed her deeper faith to these girls. In the midst of her sorrows, did familiar Hebrew songs rise to the surface for Ruth and Orpah to hear and glean from? She must have talked about her faith in Lord over the years, otherwise Ruth would not have been able to emphatically proclaim to Naomi, "Your God will be my God!". Naomi was not perfect in her faith walk, but God still used her. When I was raising my kids, these thoughts about Naomi were actually an inspiration to me. My prayer for my kids was that each one of them would one day declare (literally or figuratively), "Momma, I want your God to be my God!". In order for this to happen, I knew that even in my messes, I needed to live out my faith in front of them.
On another note, there are two words that caught my attention in the passage about Ruth's loyalty. The first word is found in yesterday's verse, v.14: "Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth CLUNG to her." Think about the word "cling"; imagine Ruth holding Naomi ever so tightly for a very long time. My heart's desire is for this to be the picture of me with the Lord Jesus. Am I clinging to Him with all that I have? Are you?
The second word is in verse 18: "When she saw that Ruth was DETERMINED to go with her, she said no more." The word "determine" means: having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it. I too want Ruth's determination to walk by faith not by sight, to say no to the culture around me, and to step-by-step by-step believe in the God I proclaim.
Let's spend time today making Ruth's ancient vow new to us again. Read it a few times and carry it with you all day long. Cling to the One who longs to embrace you fully, and be determined stay by His side even when you have no idea what lies ahead. Trust that God redeems your past, holds your hand in the present, and is working out your future.
Further: Psalm 57:7-11; Psalm 86:8-13; Matthew 22:37-40
Conntinue to teach us, and help us to speak Your name in our growth processes. You are able to redeem our messes! Open our eyes and guide us to our next place of maturity, and make us all Yours! Cause us to cling to You and please give us the determination to stay by Your side. May each one of us say wholeheartedly, "For where You go, I will go." Amen.