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: ~ Ruth 1:16
If you’ve never read the book of Ruth, I highly recommend that you do so. As a mater of fact, I'll give you a moment to read it right now.
It is a beautiful story about the widow Naomi who has two widowed daughters-in-law (both Naomi’s sons had died) and the journey she made to return to her Jewish homeland. When Naomi asked her first daughter-in-law (Orpah) to depart from her so that she could go find another husband, Orpah did just that – she kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and departed from her. When Naomi said this same thing to her second daughter-in-law (Ruth), Ruth said the words in the scripture above. She told Naomi she would go where Naomi went, that her people would be her people and that Naomi’s God would be her God.
Isn’t that just beautiful? Wouldn’t you love to inspire that kind of love and loyalty in your family? I don’t mean to give the ending away if you haven’t read it, but Ruth prospered greatly by following Naomi to her homeland. She was seen to be the loving and loyal daughter-in-law that she was, which accorded her great respect and she ended up marrying a wonderful, kind and wise man who was related to Naomi. It is a beautiful story that illustrates the rewards available by showing loyalty and love to a loved one.
And – guess what? God wants you to show that same type of love and loyalty to Him. I like to think this story is the best embodiment of the total faith and obedience that God wishes us to show to Him. Why else would it be included in scripture? In and of itself, it is a rather insignificant story (of course, a major ‘plot point’ is that Ruth and her husband Boaz end up being the forefathers of the line that included David and our Savior Jesus). Beyond the bloodline scenario, there is no real reason to include it in scripture as it tells a very local story in a very specific time period pertaining to one very specific family.
But the story tells us so much more! It tells us how it feels to be lost and to rely on someone else to guide and lead you. It tells us how blind faith and total obedience (Naomi gave Ruth many ‘strange’ instructions once they arrived, which Ruth followed ‘to a T’). It tells us how we might be rewarded if we turn that same obedient attitude towards God and how well He takes care of us.
Ruth is not just the story of one young widow who marries well into a wealthy family, but a story of how any one lost soul can become part of the ‘family’ of God and find the richness of His glory. God’s family is epitomized by the understanding, acceptance and kindness Boaz displays towards Ruth and the kinship bonds that Boaz is honoring through his family member Naomi. Much like God extends His kinship bonds to us through the work of His Son Jesus Christ.
God is not only showing us how rewarding this ‘family’ life is, but how we must trust Him even in the face of uncertainty or in making difficult choices. Many blessings cannot be seen (or anticipated) beyond the limits of our knowledge. What we know is often limited and cannot show the full range of God’s blessings or His rich providence for us. Therefore we must trust Him beyond what our sight can see and beyond where mere knowledge can take us.
For that, we must have a ‘Ruth’ kind of faith and demonstrate total obedience to God. And it is that kind of faith that God blesses most richly as we move in obedience to Him.