Before we begin, here is the book that we will be reading next month if you wish to purchase it:
Mine took AGES to come, so make sure you buy ASAP in time for us to start reading together.
ANYWAY! This month, we will be studying……
Since we are different people, I knew that Dani and I would pick up on different moments in the text and those moments would impact us in different ways. For this reason, we have complied both our thoughts on Ruth 1 into one LONG post. It would definitely help if you read the chapters we reference as we went along (coz that’s the whole point but whatever lol).
But Ruth replied, “Stop urging me to abandon you! For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people, and your God will become my God. Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! Only death will be able to separate me from you!”
Imagine if we had the same attitude that Ruth had towards Naomi, towards Jesus. With Christ we have assurance of the good things he has in store for us, Jeremiah 29:11 says “For the plans I have for you are good and not evil, plans to bring you to a perfect end”. Imagine being in a place of destituteness and following someone that isn’t even promising that greater things will come. Naomi served the Most High God and Ruth wanted to be close to the person she knew could get her to him. We hear all the time that sometimes we have to take a leap of faith but what Ruth did was more like taking a step off of a multi-storey burning building whilst Orpah chose to wait until the fire brigade came.
In this chapter Ruth teaches us that rationality cannot be relied upon. Being educated to a higher level can result in us believing that we can reason with God in the same way that we reason with others, leading us to debate and sometimes even argue with him. However, you didn’t hear Jesus say ‘but realistically you can’t feed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fishes’. You didn’t hear Abraham say ‘but isn’t a bit contradictory for you to tell me to kill the very son you prophesied that I would have’. God doesn’t care about what makes sense and neither did Ruth. It doesn’t matter what is logical in a situation;it’s about what’s Jesusical. If we want to live a life that’s spirit lead, that means seeking after the things God wants for us, and following the commands he gives us, regardless of how well they fit into the plan we have for our lives.
Finally we see Ruth shows us that ‘it’s not everyday listen to your friends’. It’s not that Orpah was doing something against God’s will for her life, it’s that God was doing something different in Ruth’s life. You can spend your whole life seeking after your friend’s miracle or your friend’s blessing and completely miss out on what God had planned for you.
He chose you, and only you, to complete the specific plan he created for you. Will you reply to his calling with the words Ruth said to Naomi?
Ruth 1:8, 11-13
But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”
The first person in the story that I felt was exemplary was Naomi. Are you surprised? I was. I expected Ruth to jump out at me and captivate my heart. But what about Naomi? Naomi, a woman who lost her husband and her two sons – a woman who lost it all. Being a woman in those days wasn’t easy at all, without a man to protect you, you were vulnerable and at risk. Men were the providers and owners of all property; when the men in her life passed, Naomi was left with nothing.
Despite her bitterness she began to reason with herself. As she travelled back to her place of birth, she decided that her daughter-in-laws should not have to suffer anymore than they already had. Despite her bereaved state and desolation, she put the needs of others first. Naomi could have chosen to make those young women stay with her and alter their lives to suit her needs; both Ruth and Orpah were fiercely loyal and would have stayed if she had requested. Instead she thought of their wellbeing above her own; they say ‘misery loves company’ but Naomi life shows this isn’t necessarily true for everybody.
How do you act when you are in pain? Do you shut down? Do you shout about the place and set your environment on fire with your words? Do you become selfish, only able to see the situation from your perspective? Would you have told those around you to leave you because you knew in your heart that it would benefit them? I began to ask myself how I act when I’m pain. Do I throw my weight around? YES, I do. Not intentionally, I just make those around me uncomfortable because I don’t speak.
Naomi showed me once again there is a better way to live and behave even when your emotions are in turmoil. Growth. We need to grow. Even if we are hurting, that shouldn’t mean that everyone else around us should have to absorb the weight of our pain. Instead we should seek to lighten the load others are carrying, even if we are carrying a greater pain.
And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi.
When should we let go and when should we hold on?
Neither Orpah or Ruth could have known what their futures held but they were both were presented with the same choice -to stay or to go. I wrestled with this part of the text for many reasons. Orpah had NO idea what she was about to miss out on and even if she had gone with them, there was only one Boaz! She may have stayed a widow for the rest of her life – no one knows what would have happened if she went with Nai (yes I’ve given her a nickname) but God.
Instinctively, I love Orpah. Orpah followed her gut. What she did made perfect sense given the circumstances – she was a woman and she needed a husband to protect and provide for her. She had already suffered a huge loss; the best thing to do was to go home to her family and figure things out from there. 9/10 of us would have done the same. Even after reading this story, I’m sure some of us will take the path that makes sense before we walk the path that inconveniences us. We will miss out on a blessing because we cannot see the potential in an opportunity because it is dressed as a burden.
When we are unsure, we must look to God before we look within ourselves for answers. Isaiah 30:21 says “whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” We need to follow the voice of God before we follow our intuition. You see, the answers that lie within us may cause us to make the wrong choices. Although in that moment the choice could have made perfect sense, our legacy will only reflect a lack of foresight to those that walk after us.
Ruth didn’t know what lay ahead – there’s no way she could have known the blessings that would be heaped on her as a result of her decision to stay with Nai. All she knew was the love that she had for her mother-in-law and that was enough. One decision changed her life forever.
What did I learn from Naomi?
- Regardless of how I feel, I need to always consider the feelings of others. Even if I am at my lowest point, I can’t act selfishly as this impacts those around me.
- If someone decides to leave me, God will bring someone who will stay and carry me through the storm.
- Continue to serve God regardless of how unbearable the situation may be.
What did I learn from Ruth?
- I will always have a choice; God will never force my hand.
- Sometimes opportunities will be dressed as burdens; do not be hasty when making decisions.
- Look ahead. Current circumstances always give way to future blessings. What I feel is my end may one day be recognised as my beginning.
What did I learn from Orpah?
- There is a time to walk away.
- No one knows what the future holds, be patient and prayerful.
- When walking away, try not to walk backwards. Move forward into a better beginning.
- Pray before you stay, pray before you walk – pray before everything.