by Anita Miles
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Just down the road from my house is a little “hole in the road” seafood joint that has the best low country boil that Savannah has to offer! I had frequented it several times through the years before a little unusual object in the shop caught my eye. After noticing it a couple times after that, I inquired to verify it was what I thought it was. Straight through the kitchen, on a little shelf, sits a little Buddha statue. At least every day or two, fresh oranges are placed in front of that little statue as an offering to their “god.” I find it sobering every time I walk in to see that gold image sitting on the shelf - wondering how they ever find any hope in such a powerless little idol.
I’ve never walked away from that shop without being reminded of a certain story in the Bible. Recently I’ve been doing some personal study on this particular passage and it’s message has become more real to me than ever. The event that I always travel back to is the sob fest that was taking place in the book of Ruth.
Can you imagine yourself in the midst of these 3 grieving women?? I mean, women already know how to cry - sometimes even without much going on…but can you REALLY imagine? Scripture paints a pretty decent picture of how they were all wailing together. They were hurting for Naomi and her loss. They were hurting for their own loss as young widows. And then there was even more pain heaped on top of that because they felt like they were getting ready to lose this woman - whom they obviously loved dearly!
Just from the details we have about Naomi, I perceive that she was a very nurturing and influential mother in law. I don’t have the time to go into all of the reasons that her family went to Moab, but some would say that it was not the will of God. Others would say it was providential because of the outcome. I am not going to debate that. You can have your own opinion.
What I do know is that there was obviously something very different about Naomi compared to the other women in this pagan land. Something within me believes that even though they were sojourners in this strange land of Moab, Naomi was unashamed and open about the fact that her faith was in the God of her previous and beloved country of Bethlehem - Judeah. She had not adopted the gods of Moab.
I simply cannot for a second believe that Naomi was anything but kind and good - even though she personally described her emptiness. But not only that - I believe there was something that was different about her, even in her desperate grief. I believe that there was a hope in her that the young daughter in laws’ knew was different than what they had experienced growing up in Moab.
While Naomi tells Ruth and Orpah to return to their families and their gods, I absolutely LOVE Ruth’s reaction. The power of Naomi’s life is obvious in the response of her daughter in law. I can almost see Ruth shaking Naomi’s shoulders in desperation as she tells her that she doesn’t want to go back to her family in Moab. Ruth declares, “Wherever you go in life - I want to go! I want your family to be my family!! But even more than that...I WANT YOUR GOD!!”
That last statement, my friend, is a powerful, powerful witness of a life well lived! And that one decision of Ruth’s - to follow Naomi’s God - changed the course of history.
What about us?? In all of the chaos of daily living and in the grief that overcomes us at times, is there something in us that makes others desire the God we serve? Is there HOPE in our eyes - even in our troubles - that the world can’t find anywhere in their idols and the gods they seek it from? It’s a hope that only comes through the power of Christ. Are people who are hurting around us able to shoulder up beside us and declare because of the way we have lived out loud, “I want YOUR God!?”
This particular story of the power of Naomi’s life - even in her horrific circumstances - has challenged me. I have experienced THE answer that the gods of this world can’t give. I want God’s abundant love and the difference He makes in any life He touches to be visible in everything that I do!
We never know what a difference it will make - even for generations to come!