Bible Reading: Ruth 1:1-6, 8-9, 16-17
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man's name was Elimelek, his wife's name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. Now Elimelek, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.
Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's home.
May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband."
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. 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 even death separates you and me."
Many years ago some friends of ours decided to emigrate. At the time the UK was going through a recession, work was difficult to come by and the prospects looked good in Australia, so off they went. It lasted six months. I think the work was OK, the climate was good, but they missed family and friends and decided to return. They were childless when the went to Australia, they eventually had four children; they also found work. Were they right to go in the first place?
The same could be asked of Elimelek. He took his family from the Promised Land during a time of hardship to go and live in a foreign land. It didn’t work out for them. Elimelek and his sons died in Moab, leaving Naomi with two Moabite daughters-in-law and no means of support.
I can understand Elimelek’s desire to provide for his family in a time of hardship but would question the wisdom of moving them from the land God had specifically given them. Financial prosperity is not the only thing to consider when making life-changing decisions, family, friends and community are also important, as Naomi and Ruth would eventually discover.
Naomi tried to persuade her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab with the hope of remarrying. Orpah remained but Ruth went with Naomi, with those wonderful words, ‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’ For Ruth there was a calling to leave her homeland; her motives were loyalty and commitment and she was prepared to trust Naomi’s God with her future.
Have there been times when, like Elimelek, you have made wrong choices or, like Naomi, someone else’s choices have affected you? It is never too late to turn back. God is gracious and forgiving, his compassion never fails.
Are there relationships where God is asking you to be loyal and committed, even if, like Ruth, it might cause you to make sacrifices? Trust God, sacrifice is a road that leads to blessing.
Father God, give me the grace to turn back from wrong choices and the courage to remain loyal to those who rely on me.
Where you go, I’ll go.