Devoted to belonging
In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him.
Then he died, and Naomi (his wife) was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women, but about ten years later both sons died, leaving Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.
Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah, 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. May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.
“No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”
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 again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.
So the two of them continued on their journey.
Belonging is complicated thing, Lord.
Whether it’s to family or dear friends, I am grateful for that close bond, with its ties of love or friendship.
I thank you from my heart, Lord, for my ‘ain folk’ who are there when I need them, without judgement but with support, or laughter or practical help – just when I’ve needed it.
It’s a two-way street, though, Lord - I know that - and if they had to call on me, I hope I’d be able to give the kind of devotion that Ruth gave to Naomi.
Help me to appreciate what we all gain from devotion.
Teach me to give, without counting the cost to myself, and in the giving receive a full measure of fulfilment, and the strength to go on giving.
Ruth appears to give up her own life with its choices – a sacrifice of independence I find hard to grasp.
Show me how, as Jesus said ‘If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
May your Holy Spirit guide me into this way of living my life.