Longing for Home: An Advent Journey, 2016 — Day Twelve

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Psalm 146:5-10
Ruth 1:6-18
2 Peter 3:1-10

Ruth 1:6-18

Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said,

“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”

When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Oh my goodness, how I love these words! I love this story. I love these characters. There are lots of reasons for my abiding love for the story of Ruth — there is the obvious one — my mother’s name and my middle name match the title of this book. It’s a story about women, and those are few and far between, especially in the Old Testament. It’s a story about family commitment on many levels, Naomi and Ruth to one another, Boaz to Ruth and Ruth to Boaz. And it’s a story with a beautiful, fulfilling ending after a painful beginning.

Most of all, however, I love this story because I believe it’s given to us as a picture of God’s immense loyalty and love for his human family. And the character of God is female — who knew?? The character traits exhibited by Ruth throughout this tale are ones that the Old Testament frequently uses to describe the character of God. Chesed,  faithfulness/loving-kindness/loyalty. Ruth has that in spades. 

And these particular words are famous anywhere the Bible is read. I suppose they are most often used in wedding ceremonies, which is a little bit odd, when you come to think about it. After all, they were spoken by one woman to another, by one generation to another, by one homeless wayfarer to another. There is nothing traditionally romantic about them at all. They are fierce words, aren’t they? They show grit, determination, conviction and commitment. Maybe that’s why they show up in weddings, eh? The whole idea of commitment over a lifetime is in exceedingly short supply these days. Maybe it’s time to dust them off and use them in as many settings as we can think of! What do you think?

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Comments

  1. There is a Chris Tomlin song, “I Will Follow,” that is based on this Scripture: “Where you go, I’ll go, where you stay, I’ll stay; when you move, I’ll move. I will follow you.”
    I, too, love the story of Ruth. It is the very essence of faith.
    Blessings, Diana!

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