“Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Ruth 1:16
The story of Ruth opens with a famine in the land of Israel. Her future family moves to Moab where she lives. Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, settle in Moab. The sons marry Moabitess women, one of which is Ruth. But it isn’t long before tragedy strikes. Elimelech dies and leaves Naomi a widow. Within ten years, Ruth and Orpah are also made widows. The three women are faced with difficult, hopeless circumstances. One day Naomi hears that God has provided food for His people in Bethlehem (the house of bread). She set out with her daughters in law to go to Bethlehem.
Naomi loves her girls, yet she tries to persuade them to go back. She believes that she has nothing to offer them either now or in the future. They are still young, they could remarry. She begs them to return to Moab. Orpah weeps, but she turns back. I picture Ruth as she stands with Naomi, her feet planted firmly in the dusty ground, her expression one of determination. She loves Naomi and Naomi’s God. She is ready to leave her own mother and her people for a land she knows nothing about. Her pledge echoes the strength of her stance. She never falters, and she never looks back.
Sacrifice. It’s a word we associate with giving up something that is valuable to us. It cost Ruth to leave her family, but that sacrifice brought her into God’s land and more blessing than she could have ever imagined. She didn’t see all of this while she walked that long, dusty road to Bethlehem. The sweetness of her love for Naomi kept her heart alive and full of joy. Her devotion sustained her for the entire journey. This is a picture of our faith journey. We cannot see what is ahead, but we believe God and surrender our lives to Him. The next three chapters of this book shows how her faith and love put on walking shoes.