“Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread.” Ruth 1:6
As I write this post it’s New Years Day. Some people take the passing of one year to the next as an opportunity to make a new start. Usually they’ve recognized that there’s some part of their life that’s been in need of some kind of reform for quite a while but have been putting of making a change. However, with the passing of one year into the next they decide to muster up the required resolve to at least begin to make a change in their lives.
But New Years isn’t the only thing that moves people to initiate a new start. Sometimes, other events converge to provide the necessary motivation to inspire change. For Naomi the push that stimulated her to decided to return to Bethlehem was the news that the famine had finally passed and God had blessed them with a harvest.
Now she has nothing to hold her to the land of Moab. Her husband is long dead and her sons have died as well. She can be a poor widow anywhere and she chooses to be one in the place where she grew up.
Naomi’s journey isn’t a journey of faith. She’s not pursuing a closer walk with God. Rather she’s given up and is choosing to die in the place she’s always called home.
Initially, her two daughters in law travel with her but at some point she stops and tells them that they should go back to their parents, find new husbands, and start over.
Orpah is eventually convinced but Ruth proves just how appropriate her name is and demonstrates how deep her friendship is with Naomi by refusing to be parted from her.
Naomi would have endeavored to convince Ruth to stay in Moab but Ruth tells her to stop and promises, “For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried.” She even goes so far as to phrase her pledge to stay with Naomi in the formula of a covenant binding herself to her mother in law for life.
But while Naomi’s is a journey of defeat; Ruth’s is a journey of faith. Ruth pledges that Naomi’s God will be her God.
Through Naomi God has blessed Ruth with a knowledge of God and in Ruth God will bless Naomi and others in Bethlehem and she will eventually become a part of the line of generations leading to the Messiah.
God never abandons us when we turn to our own paths and even if we’re far from where we ought to be he will seek to bless us and use us to bless others. These blessing don’t excuse our waywardness but they do demonstrate the reality of our heavenly fathers unconditional love.