I have a friend who did the unthinkable. Twenty years ago she and her husband were pastors in a highly successful, growing church when they discerned a call to leave everything they knew and begin ministry in a new city. They moved to Portland, Oregon, and started meeting people half their age who were living on the margins of society. They fell so in love with this community that one day they asked some of these young adults, “Will you teach us how to be you?”
So the transformation began. They moved into a rental house, shared food from the food pantry, and found their fashions at Goodwill. She replaced trips to the beauty parlor with the tattoo parlor, and her hair morphed into dreadlocks and his into a mullet. Over these last twenty years of forgoing the “successes” of this world, they have started three churches for people who have been forgotten and forsaken by the city. They have followed their hearts’ desire.
It takes tremendous courage to let go of what we know and trust that God awaits us in the unknown. My friends have the persistent faith of Ruth. The journey for Ruth and Naomi wasn’t easy. They faced many uncertainties, yet they trusted in their love for each other and for God, and that was enough.
The Bible is full of such stories of people letting go and falling into grace. It is part of our spiritual DNA. My friends knew deep within that their outward transformation marked an inward refinement process—letting go of their fears and falling into trust with God. And like Ruth and Naomi, their light shines brightly! How is God calling you to do the unthinkable? Who will be your people?
Breathe into your heart space and listen. What is your heart’s desire? For whom does your heart break? To follow God is to follow your heart.
Ruth and Psalm 146 share a thematic connection. Ruth is a foreigner who decides to follow the God of the Israelites, and the psalmist praises God for being the trustworthy God who cares about the poor, the oppressed, and the foreigner. In Ruth, Boaz will demonstrate this kind of care for her. The New Testament readings focus on sacrifice. Hebrews teaches us that Christ was both the greatest high priest and the eternal sacrifice. A scribe in Mark receives praise from Jesus, for he understands that the sacrificial system was less weighty than the act of loving one’s neighbor. Ruth and this scribe are examples of those, named and anonymous, who have come before us in the faith. We celebrate them on All Saints Day.
• Read Ruth 1:1-18. When have you left the familiar behind to set out into the unknown? Where did you experience God’s presence and help?
• Read Psalm 146. When you have found yourself in despair about the world, where have you witnessed God’s work that brings you hope?
• Read Hebrews 9:11-14. How willing are you to release your bag of sins and shortcomings to Jesus?
• Read Mark 12:28-34. In what ways do you understand yourself as a spiritual being having a human experience? What does that mean to you?
Respond by posting a prayer.