Ruth

This devotional is written by Elle Goodman. Elle is one of the kids workers here at St Mary's.

Ruth 1:1-18

Naomi loses her husband and sons 1 In the days when the judges ruled,[a] there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man's name was Elimelek, his wife's name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

3 Now Elimelek, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem 6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.'

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, 'We will go back with you to your people.'

11 But Naomi said, 'Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me - even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons - 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord's hand has turned against me!'

14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

15 'Look,' said Naomi, 'your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.'

16 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. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.' 18 When Naomi realised that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.


Reflection

Reading this passage, I feel urged to find the parallels in my life from all perspectives of this story. That of Naomi who feels she must carry on alone and not have company in her struggles, that of Orpah who takes the leap to step out on her own, and of Ruth who feels like she must stay- even if it means giving up opportunity elsewhere. Perhaps the natural reaction is to judge Orpah for leaving the other women alone. But she is receiving from Ruth, the freedom to leave and find a new life. A gift that is not flippantly taken- They weep together but they know that they will be parting and wish each other well. Orpah travelling away to Judah probably took the same guts Ruth had to stay with Naomi. But for me I feel Ruth's decision rings true in my journey with faith. So many times I have felt as though I wanted to leave and never return, whether it be temptation from elsewhere, or the very physical element of the Holy Spirit being something that I find too much at times. However, something has always drawn me to stay- and that is largely the community I have found myself in, but also the immeasurable love that I know Jesus has for us, for you, for me- makes me never want to be far away.

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