I love the story of Ruth. I love it so much that in the last few weeks I have taught from this short book of the Bible twice. So in the spirit of the third time’s the charm, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how Ruth encourages us to boldly follow God no matter what 2018 holds.
Ruth chapter 1 opens with Naomi’s family immigrating to Moab to escape the famine in their native Bethlehem. By the end of chapter 1, Naomi’s family is dead and all she’s left with is a daughter-in-law, Ruth, who will not let go.
Ruth was incredibly brave. She was willing to follow Naomi and her God without the guarantee of safety or a secure future. Widows in ancient Israel were in an extremely vulnerable position; they often depended on the generosity of others for their survival as they had no independent means of wealth. Ruth, on top of hitching her wagon to another widow, was a Moabite.
Moabites were the produce of incest between Lot and his daughters. The relationship between the Israelites and the Moabites was hostile because when the Israelites came out of Egypt the Moabites did not provide food or water to them. God says in Deuteronomy they aren’t allowed to enter the Lord’s assembly.
Lastly, Naomi did not have any more sons so the chances of Ruth getting another husband by following her into Bethlehem were very slim. Yet, Ruth goes anyway. She eschews the safe and logical choice of returning to Moab for the uncertainty of Bethlehem.
Unlike Ruth, we often want the whole picture before we are willing to follow God. We want to see the whole picture, we do not want to be like Abraham and just go without any idea of where. And we certainly don’t want to be like Ruth and go to places where we are downright likely to face hostility or opposition.
Our future is not in Moab. We have just begun 2018 and cannot be sure what this year will hold, but we must choose the same faithful obedience Ruth displays even though we may be uncertain or afraid.
Jill Briscoe says obedience comes before courage. For Naomi and Ruth, there were tears on the journey; verse 9 says they wept loudly. So, it is okay to cry, but you cry while you move forward. You cry as you walk forward in faith and obedience to God’s call.
The decision to be obedient to follow God is not just a one-time decision. We are going to have to get up every day and sometimes every minute and say, “I choose to follow you God.”
God will not always call you to logical places with clear paths, and sometimes it may seem that His instructions don’t make sense. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. As we begin 2018, we are facing the unknown, but we can trust an unknown 2018 in the hands of a Known God. May we like Ruth choose our faith over our fears this year.