Like many other people, my message yesterday focused on mothers. We looked at Ruth and how she is renown for her faithfulness to Naomi. She is famous for saying… “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
This all encompassing statement that was said with a tone of finality left Naomi speechless and defeated her argument that Ruth should return to her own people. While studying for this message I asked myself a new question or two about this familiar statement.
What would make Ruth say such a thing, in such a way? For that matter, what would make her other widowed daughter-in-law, Orpah, initially refuse and weep so bitterly as she parted ways with her also widowed mother-in-law? These questions leads us to another… What was it about Naomi that would make Ruth want to live where she lives, worship Who she worships and die where she dies?
The four short chapters of Ruth can help us get a better understanding of what Naomi was like. Likely she was true to her name which means to be sweet or pleasant. But there must be more. Ruth abandons her family and her gods for her mother-in-law and a strange land with strange people! It is safe to believe that Naomi lived her life in such a way that it compelled Ruth to love her. Ruth would not have made such a powerful declaration if Naomi had lives a life of wavering principles. The fact that Ruth said “your God will be my God” tells us that Naomi remained diligent about her faith even while spending ten or so years in a land of idolaters, Moab (meaning waste or nothingness). In a very real sense Naomi became Ruth mother. Their relationship did not just hinge on the mortality of Ruth’s marriage to her son, Mahlon.
There is so much more that could be said but the point is to recognize that Naomi lived her life before God like it mattered. She did this while living among foreign people who worshiped foreign gods. I am sure it wasn’t easy for Naomi but it might have been her faithfulness in the face of difficulty that captured the heart of Ruth and made Naomi the great-great-great grandmother of King David.
I believe the answer to our question is that Naomi lived her life with a conviction and devotion to God that made Ruth want to be her disciple. I wonder how much the qualities found in Naomi influenced David. Did they help make him a man after God’s own heart? I would venture to say yes.
The challenge for us is to look at our lives and ask ourselves if we live in a way that someone (child, spouse, sibling, friend, etc) would want to tell us these humbling words…
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Thank you Mom!
Happy Mother’s Day To All You Wonderful Mothers!
Andre & Coline