The book of Ruth is a beautiful story about loss, friendship, risk, and making choices that speak into our future hope. It begins with a family and a famine. The patriarch, Elimelech, decides to leave his ancestral home of Bethlehem due to the lack of food. Even though his name means, “My God is King,” Elimelech didn’t live as if he believed that. He chose comfort over obedience.
By leaving Bethlehem for a country with a history of idolatry and perversion, he settled for something temporary, and it ended in sorrow. Interestingly, Bethlehem means “house of bread,” and yet he journeyed outside of a covenant that had brought care and provision.
Elimelech died while living in Moab, leaving his wife Naomi and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Ten years later and Naomie loses again with the death of her boys. One decision that led to a chain reaction of disaster and loss. Quite the train wreck…isn’t it? A mess that I identify with all too closely. Circumstances are hard…. life is challenging…. what if I just help you out a little Lord?! (Ruth 1:1-5)
The fear of the unknown can set us up to take matters into our own hands. Nobody likes to be uncomfortable in their surroundings. So we choose comfort over character because we are fascinated with our past. It is easy to go back to old ways: a habit that brings relief, complaining over praising, living with less when God wants to use the process to bring more. The grass is not always greener on the other side, and if it is, the cost may be too high to maintain it. (read that again)
However, a young Moabite named Ruth would have nothing of it. While Orpah went back home, Ruth clung to Naomi. Ruth was determined to leave the comfort of her homeland and set out for something new. She ignored Naomi’s self-declaration of bitterness and looked for the faith hidden in the soil of humanity and grief. Ruth was hungry for some fresh bread.
18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.” Ruth 1:18 (NLT)
Choices made long ago had left Naomi confused and broken by her bitter circumstances. But she moved in the right direction, back to Bethlehem and covenant. She was empty but soon would be filled, for it was the beginning of barley harvest.
So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22 (NLT)
Many Excerpts are taken from Lisa Putnam’s Book, Confession of a Professional Mourner