Ruth was a Moabite who started off living a fairly normal life. She was married and lived in the land where she was born. She worshipped as the people in her family and those around her worshipped. But life was going to become hard for Ruth. She wasn’t able to have children and in her world at that time, that was considered a bad thing. She was a wife and wives were suppose to have children and more specifically, they should have sons.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ruth’s husband died. Now she is alone and she is barren. She had become a burden to her family. She was now considered worthless in the eyes of her friends and family.
At the same time her sister’s husband has died and so has her father-in-law. That leaves three women who have been connected by marriage but are no longer connected. They are going to have to make some decisions and they don’t have many options.
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law decides she will return to Judah, her homeland. She has no one left in Moab but she does have family in Judah. I can imagine Ruth watching, maybe helping, as Naomi is preparing to leave. “You’re really going to leave here, Naomi,” Ruth says. “But why? I’d hoped you’d stay here?”
“I can’t stay, Ruth. There’s nothing for me here,” Naomi replies. “My husband and sons are all dead. God has not blessed me here. He has taken them all away. I will go back to the land of our fathers and see if He will bless me there.”
I can imagine Ruth asking Naomi to tell her about the land she is returning to and asking about the God Naomi is seeking to bless her. She must have spent some sleepless nights thinking about this. And, at some point, when Ruth looks at what was in the past all she sees is pain:
- the pain of being barren and criticized by the women around her
- the pain of being widowed and alone
- the pain of being a part of worship of a god that does not help her
But when Ruth looks at Naomi she sees kindness and understanding and she sees hope in a new place, new people and a new god.
Ruth makes a decision and runs to find Naomi as she is starting on her journey. When she tells Naomi she is coming with her, Naomi tries to talk her out of it. But Ruth has already thought it through and is determined to go with Naomi. Her response to Naomi is well-known
“…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 anything but death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV)
Ruth’s decision to go with Naomi is complete. Her commitment is to Ruth, to the people she will soon be a part of and to the God that Naomi worships. There is so much we can learn from Ruth and from her decision to go with Naomi. Too much in fact to get it in this post. So tomorrow, I’ll be back with “the rest of the story.”