Famine had forced Naomi and her husband to leave their home and live as foreigners in Moab. When her husband died, Naomi was left with her two sons and their new wives. When they’d been there about 10 years, her sons died as well – leaving her nearly alone in a foreign land. It’s easy to see why she wanted to change her name to a word that meant bitter. She’d lost just about everything important to her and was forced to head home to Israel, to live out the rest of her life as a begging, bitter widow.
But there was one friend she’d gained in all the suffering. Her daughter in law, Ruth.
As Naomi left for Israel, her sons’ widows went with her, as part of her household. But they were young and Naomi had no hope of being able to provide for them, so she sent them home to their own families. Ruth wouldn’t go. Despite the difficulty she knew she’d face in aligning herself with Naomi this way, her words reveal a commitment to a relationship that ran deeper than any desire for self-preservation.
“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.”
There’s a Chris Tomlin song (I Will Follow) that I’ve been singing with my students lately that echoes this same thought and reflects our commitment to Jesus. May our desire to go with Jesus, wherever He’s going, reflect Ruth’s love and devotion to Naomi. I pray that we will truly love those who He so deeply loves and that we’d humbly serve those He desires to serve. He draws a pretty wide circle… find someone you can serve today.