Today we still stand pondering how our political and environmental (virus) future will unfold. It feels a bit like Robert Frost in the poem about standing at the crossing of two paths in the woods and deciding which path to take. Naomi, in the book of Ruth, an Israelite widowed and having lived through the death of her husband and both her sons, stands at a crossroad with her two Moabite daughter-in-laws. They decide to return to Bethlehem where they have heard the Lord is blessing life. So they pack their bags and they’re ready to go. Life in Moab will be difficult but return to Bethlehem has a cost. I suspect Naomi now weighed the impact of the decision on the lives of her two daughter-in-laws. She frees them to choose.
As a young missionary family with five children, readying to return to Kenya, I read that children over age ten should be included in the discussion. Our 8, 10, and 12 year olds were ready to go. To our surprise we got static from our 6 year old twin boys. They did not want to leave before having birthdays in the USA. Hmmm. Would celebrating half birthdays with a party be ok? I asked. We took them and their friends to Pharaoh’s Ice Cream parlor and celebrated.
Naomi will be returning to a “new normal” but for Ruth and Orpah it would be a whole new world. Perhaps Naomi remembers the pain of adjusting when her family moved to Moab. Perhaps Naomi worried about how three women with little status would cope. In any case, Naomi frees the other two women from their social responsibility to care for and obey her. Orpah cries and returns home. Ruth however says the words we are so familiar with and which are often shared by brides at weddings, “Don’t urge me to leave you… Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth saw in the life and faith of Naomi, something worth following and trusting her life to.
Today we possibly face a disappointing decision about president, possibly months of political wrangling, possibly changes in health benefits, possibly…. Heading to a new country where you are “the other” is no easier. The contextual situation will be what it will be but we have control over our attitudes and where we caste our eyes and trust. Ruth in the midst of her life has observed the faith of Naomi and casts her vote to stand with Naomi’s God. That’s not quite the individualistic mountain top spiritual experience people share today but it points to the importance of community and faith in the midst of crisis. We do not know what happened to Orpah or why she chose the “other road” and returned home to her family. We can only pray that worked out well for her. Ruth’s life, though, was forever changed by her choice “to take the road less traveled” and trust the God of Naomi. As we wait by our radios, TVs, or cell phones today and listen for news about the issues that impact our life, may we also look to the God who says in Psalm 50:15, “call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” We are not alone. Blessings.