"Love me, please, I love you. . . So ask of me anything ... I am not a tentative person. Whatever I do, I give up my whole self to it."
Edna Saint Vincent Millay
Leaving the rolling hills of a fertile, high country, the three women embarked on the southward journey that would lead them home. All were grieving. One, embittered by the pain and emptiness only loss can bring, another, confused about her own will and future, and one, resolute with love, beholden to the embittered woman, who had been her peace and comfort, all moved forward to a new life.
Along the dusty road, Naomi turned to her daughters-in-law. "Go back. Go home and live with your mothers. And may God treat you as graciously as you treated your deceased husbands and me. May God give each of you a new home and a new husband" (Ruth 1:8-9). Naomi wept before them. Her suffering was unpalatable. And Naomi's heart still yearned for the young widows, who also suffered from the enemy of death.
Their eyes stinging from hot tears, their faces stained by streams of sorrow, Orpah and Ruth pled with Naomi, "No, we're going on with you to your people" (Ruth 1:10). The mother-in-law would not have it. Why should they follow her, an old, barren woman, who thought the Lord's hand against her, who had no more sons to offer them, no hope in providing a future for two young women, whose lives were open before them?
Orpah turned back. She reverted to her family and the gods of Moab. Ruth clung to Naomi. The words of the young Moabitess poured desperately from her lips like warm honey. "Don't force me to leave you; don't make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us" (Ruth 1:16-17).
And so, it was done. A covenant was made between the two women. And Ruth followed her mother-in-law to Bethlehem. Without reservation. Without fear. Without regret. Ruth denied the gods of Moab, and turned to the God of Israel. Ruth yielded her life to the counsel of the One true God. She committed to Naomi, and Naomi loved Ruth and mentored her. They were kindred spirits, who were both to partake in a greater plan than they ever dreamed possible.
We are all familiar with the wondrous story. Naomi's relative, Boaz, became Ruth's kinsman-redeemer. He purchased her freedom, and they were married. Together, Ruth and Boaz became part of the lineage of Christ. The love Ruth had for Naomi and her God, and the compassion Naomi showed her daughter-in-law, made them part of the greatest historical, Biblical, and spiritual event of the universe. We are all affected today by the kinship and loyalty these women had for their God.
Our loyalties today remain historic. When we are willing to give everything, our total self, in complete relinquishment to the Lord, we not only find our Kinsman-Redeemer, but also we find His perfect plan for our lives. A plan that affects the lives of many others. Could Ruth have known what was ahead for her in Bethlehem? I think not. She only knew that she was compelled to give her life to the God of a woman whose very life and worship was Ruth's peace and comfort. And Ruth knew such dedication meant leaving her old life and gods behind.
In committing ourselves to God so thoroughly, so purely, we may lose what is familiar to us. Some of us may even lose family and close friends. But Jesus said that the person who wants to keep his own life for himself will actually lose it, and that one who gives away his life to Him will find it (Matthew 16:25). He also promised that those who sacrifice houses, people, and lands for Him will receive, in this life, a hundredfold in return (Matthew 19:29). I am so thankful today we have a Kinsman-Redeemer, who paid the ultimate price for us. Christ purchased our salvation. He has made us part of His heritage. He is preparing a place for us in heaven. And He has a plan for our lives while we are here on earth. By serving Him, we have so much to gain, and so much to give, and so many lives to touch.
All quoted text is from The Message.