But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18, NIV)
I have heard some people say that “wondering” about things is a bad thing – a waste of time. Perhaps they are referring to the “if” syndrome. What will happen “if” … so and so happens. I agree that we can bombard ourselves with if’s and go into a downward spiral. But that is not the type of wondering I am writing about.
There I times I read Scripture and things seem pretty clear – there are other times when I am left wondering; and I am not at all sure that is a bad thing.
For example, take the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi (an Israelite) has had her husband and two sons die. She instructs her son’s wives to return to their own families. Neither were Israelites. We are told that Ruth is a Moabite - a foreigner. Yet, Ruth decries going back to her own house as was the custom. She strongly declares her loyalty to Naomi.
Most often when I read the book of Ruth, I think of … well … Ruth. Today, I began thinking of Naomi. Then the wondering started.
What was it about Naomi that elicited such loyalty from Ruth? What did Ruth see in Naomi that compelled her to leave her home and go with Naomi. She was an outsider. She must have known that her reception might not be good back in the land of Judah. Yet, something – something that she saw in Naomi called so strongly to Ruth that she knew she had no choice but to follow her heart – and that meant following Naomi wherever she went.
Now I am no Biblical scholar – but I wonder … was it Naomi’s relationship with her God that made such an impression on Ruth? Was it the way she handled the loss of her husband and both of her sons that caused Ruth to realize that Naomi was something special – not to be lost? It may take a much wiser person than I to know the reason, but I am content with wondering – and wondering what impression I am making on those around me.
Do folks see “God” in me? Is there something in me that would cause someone to say … “I want her God to be my God.” There was no absence of pain in Naomi’s life. She even says that she feels God has dealt bitterly with her – yet … yet … there was something in Naomi that resonated so strongly with Ruth that she literally declares her undying loyalty to Naomi and to Naomi’s God stating she will follow her unto death.
Lord God, My earnest prayer is that even though we may live with chronic conditions that cause us pain and difficulty, that we may live in such a way that we point the way to the God of Abraham. May the world see God in us - God with us. Amen