Abimeleck, his wife, Naomi, and their two sons go to live in Moab. Actually they are “escaping death” in the form of famine because there is food in Moab while there is none in Judah.
But in time, Naomi’s husband dies, followed by her two sons. Moab becomes “a land of the dead” for her—a dead husband, dead sons, and a dead god called Chemosh. (See 1 Kings 11:17.) Even her relationship with her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, appears dead as the two younger women are expected to stay in Moab while Naomi plans to return to Judah.
In the meantime, Naomi hears that the famine in Judah is over. God has visited God’s people. Naomi chooses not to continue living in “the land of the dead.” She chooses to leave behind what she cannot resurrect and instead to focus on and head for a fresh start. She chooses to embrace the new reality of her life. She sets out on the road that will bring her back to Judah where there is a fresh promise of God’s provision.
We too experience death in many different situations: the death of a loved one, the disruption of a cherished relationship, the end of a once satisfying career, a betrayal by someone we once trusted.
However much we loved or were attached to anything or any person, they are no more. Choosing to cling to it will only cause us to lose our zeal, perhaps eventually even our desire to go on living. It is wise to choose to embrace the new reality and move past what we can’t resurrect, as Paul reminds us, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on” (Phil. 3:13-14, NIV).
Help me, Lord, to leave behind what I cannot resurrect. Amen.
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 is 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.
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 in that situation?
Read Psalm 146. When have you witnessed God at work in the world in a way that gave you hope about an otherwise seemingly hopeless situation?
Read Hebrews 9:11-14. How does the redemption offered in Christ’s death free you to worship the living God? What form does your worship take?
Read Mark 12:28-34. What does it mean to you to love your neighbor as you love yourself? How do you act on that commandment in your everyday life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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