Monday, 19 March 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Ruth - Part 2

This section, at the end of Chapter 1, is one of my favourite passages.

Devotion and commitment.

Those are the 2 words that sum it up.

It was never more real to me, than in April 2001.  We were thrilled to be at the wedding of 2 friends in Northern Ireland.  And, as a surprise to her new husband (I THINK I remember that part correctly?...), the bride said this passage to her new husband, straight after they said their vows.  It really touched my heart and was such a poignant moment.

"Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 
 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."

What utterly perfect words for a new Bride to say to her Groom!

However, we see here, that it is what Ruth says to Naomi.  Not the words that MANY would utter to their mother-in-law....I hasten to add, I would happily go with my mother-in-law! *smiles*

We see that Orpah had already made her choice.  She had initially claimed that she wanted to stay with Naomi, but her love seemed to quickly dim, and she chose to stay amongst her people.  To stay with the gods of her people.  Naomi suggests that Ruth should do the same, but Ruth's reply is what we read above.

She chose to stay with leave the country of her birth...and to go to an unknown land, with Naomi.

More than anything else, she chose God.

She chose to follow after HIM, and not the false gods of her past.

THIS was a choice of devotion and commitment.

It wasn't just empty words...we read of Naomi...

"When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her." 

Naomi could tell that Ruth meant what she said.  She could tell that her heart was in it...that her mind was set...that she was courageously choosing to leave all and follow.

Do you remember that passion? 

Do you remember that devotion, which filled our hearts when we chose to leave all and follow the LORD?

Of that turning away from our past life, and committing to follow the Lord, and not the world?

There are a lot of "doing" words spoken by Ruth...

"not to leave ,  following after :  I will go; I will lodge:"

She doesn't want to leave Naomi....she wants to follow after her - to go with her - to live with her.

"thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:" 

She wants to adopt Naomi's people as hers, and most importantly, to trust in God as she does.  For Him to become HERS - the one in whom she trusts, and follows with her whole heart.  Making that commitment to ultimately follow after God, as Naomi does.

She commits to following after Naomi until death.  Right to the very end.

I read this today, and realised that we so easily wander off from our commitment to the Lord.  We so easily wander off into our own way, and away from that closeness that we had in days gone by.

The hymn writer sums it up like this...

"Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?"
(William Cowper)

We do not want to be accused, as the Church at Ephesus, to have "left our first love".

We need to remember that if we do not seek to have a close walk with the Lord - to have that devotion to Him, that we ought to have - we can have no strength to do what we need to, as wives and mothers.  Our relationship with the Lord is absolutely central to all else we do.  All of our efforts to be the best we can for our family, will be absolutely fruitless without a daily commitment to the Lord.  A daily casting off of those things that would hinder us from following after the Lord.

How can I teach my children to have a heart that follows after the Lord, if I fail to demonstrate it in my own life?

Every day, I need to make that commitment afresh.  Following God's leading isn't exclusive to those called to the mission field, or into the ministry! We have to be committed in whatever path He has led us in, and for most of us that is being a wife and mother.

Ruth, too, was going to be called into that life, in a truly amazing way....which we will learn about over the next few weeks.

So, today, will you commit today?....commit to follow after the Lord.  Not allow anything to "intreat us" to leave off from following after Him with a devoted and true heart?

Oh, walk with Jesus, wouldst thou know
How deep, how wide His love can flow;
They only fail His love to prove
Who in the ways of sinners rove.
Walk thou with Him, that way is light,
All other pathways end in night.
Walk thou with Him, that way is rest,
All other pathways are unblest.
Oh, walk with Jesus, to thy view
He will make all things sweet and new,
Will bring new fragrance from each flower,
And hallow every passing hour.
Jesus, a great desire have we
To walk life’s troubled path with Thee:
Come to us now, in converse stay:
And, Oh, walk with us day by day.
Edwin P. Hood

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