“Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.” Ruth 1:16
One of my all time favorite verses. It’s in the book of Ruth, probably my favorite book of the Bible. Ruth is speaking to Naomi.
A few years ago I did a study on the book of Ruth. We, a group of women from all different church’s, read through the book together. We did a chapter a week, then would get together for coffee to discuss. My dear friend Marie, who I met then, gave me a small plaque with this verse on it. It sits on my desk. I see it every morning. It always makes me smile.
Why I love this verse? Naomi, Ruth’s mom-in-law, has lost everything. Her husband, her two sons have all died. Ruth has lost a husband. She has left her family. She is determined to follow Naomi, who has changed her name to Mara “because the Almighty has made life very bitter for me” (Ruth 1:20b NLT). Ruth is choosing the harder path if she goes with Naomi. She knows she will be the foreigner in a foreign land. Yet these are her words.
I love her loyalty. I have rarely witnessed this type of loyalty in my short life here on earth. It is a beautiful reflection of my relationship with God, as hard as it may be sometimes. To go where He takes me, to stay where He stays.
Ruth wasn’t following Naomi, she was following God in Naomi. Naomi, in the midst of her despair clings to God. When she says the “Almighty has made my life bitter”, she’s still acknowledging His presence in her life. God is still a part of her life. It is God in Naomi. That is who Ruth is following.
Not only is Naomi leading Ruth to God. She’s discipling her as well. She is literally “showing her the way” to follow God. She wasn’t preaching her faith, she was living her faith. One of my favorite quotes is by St. Francis of Assisi:
“Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Naomi was living this quote long before it had ever been spoken. She lived it so well Ruth was willing to give up everyone, everything she knew and follow her. Wow! Through all of her pain, all of her sorrow, Naomi never took her eyes off of God. As a result neither did Ruth. As a result, Ruth was introduced into the lineage of Christ:
“Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,” Matthew 1:5
Lord, what could happen if I lived my life like Naomi? If my actions spoke of Your love for us more than my words. I can’t even imagine Lord. I’ve got a long way to go. I am willing to try. Let the journey begin!