Scripture: Ruth 1:1-18
Observation: In the days when judges ruled the Israelite people (a generally chaotic and unruly time), a man named Elimelech (we'll call him Eli) left his home in Bethlehem and took his wife Naomi and two sons to Moab. Eventually, Eli passed away, leaving Naomi a widow. Her two sons married two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but they both died as well. Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth were all widows. When Naomi decided to go back to her homeland, Ruth left behind everything she new to follow her there.
Application: Do you have “a person”? A Meredith to your Cristina? An Ann to your Leslie? A Rory to your Lane? A Brooke to your Peyton? (Clearly, it’s a female thing.) We all need a person – a person who’s there when we need to laugh/cry/scream/giggle/complain/celebrate, a person who will answer our calls at any time of the day or a night, a person who will bring us our favorite Starbucks without even asking.
We all have lots of people but most of us only have one “person.” And, our friendship with our person is this beautiful, rare relationship where we’re bound by shared sorrows and celebrations, tied together by love and loyalty and life.
Ruth made Naomi her person.
At the beginning of this book, Ruth is lonely, but she isn’t alone. She’s bound by grief to Naomi, her mother-in-law, and Orpah, her sister-in-law. In an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances, all three of these women lose their husbands. As though losing their spouse wasn’t significant enough, in this culture, husbands were the economic providers for the family, leaving these three women widowed and financially hopeless.
When Naomi hears that things are looking good in her homeland, she decides to leave her temporary home in Moab and return to Bethlehem. She bids (or at least attempts to) her daughters-in-law goodbye, encouraging them to go back home to their parents where they’ll be taken care of. Orpah gives in, but Ruth refuses.
And Ruth doesn’t only refuse – she commits to Naomi as her person.
“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (1:16-17)
Placing her faith in the God of Israel, Ruth says, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m your person.”
It wasn’t simply fate that bound them together; it was faith.
It was through faith that Ruth traded in the known for the unknown, the comfort for the discomfort, the familiar for the foreign. It was through faith that Ruth found the beautiful provision of God. It was through faith that Ruth followed, obeyed, and tied herself with an unwavering commitment to another. It was through faith that she became bound through blood to the one who shed his blood for us, Christ Jesus. (She’s mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1).
Do you have the courage to do the same? Do you have the courage to bind yourself to another, to go when God says go, to follow him into the unknown, the unfamiliar?
Let’s allow our faith to be the source of our courage.
Prayer: God, I pray for the faith of Ruth. I pray for faith to go where you’re calling, to bind myself to the ones you’ve placed in my life, to leave the comforts of home to follow you and you alone. Amen.