"Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion - Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there." Ruth 1:1-2 NKJV
In today's society, where it is not unheard of for people to move several times throughout their lives to follow family, schooling, interests, and careers imagining a move is not hard.
For my family, moving has been a way of life. In twenty years, my family has moved from state to state seven times, eight if you count this final move from Colorado to Montana. No. We are no strangers to moving.
And yet, this final move, this eighth move, has had us on tinderhooks. This move signals the end of twenty years of a life of plenty. During the past twenty years, we have not had to really question where we would live, what we would do, how we would make ends meet. We just knew that it would be taken care of, because my hubby's career was a sort of security blanket assuring us of the ability to have the basic necessities to live a decent life.
Now, no longer living under that security blanket, we are learning that the promise that God will provide for his children is a promise we must wrap ourselves in. As Christians, this should not be a hard thing, and yet, we have found over the last several months, that truly wrapping ourselves in that promise is exceedingly hard. (Somehow, we neglected to realize that the past 20 years were also part of that promise) Still, this time feels so different, so we try. We pray. We hope. We move forward. Ever forward. Thankfully, according to His promise, we are being taken care. We are finding that His blanket is in fact wrapped around us.
In Ruth, in the first two verses of the first chapter, Naomi and Elimelech are in the midst of a move. That first chapter does not go into a great deal of detail. We know there is a famine in the land. We know that Elimelech chose to pack up his family, and he chose to move to Moab. He chose to leave his home, his people, his culture, and maybe even his God in search of greener pastures, better farm land, a place without famine.
In my studies so far, there is a great deal of speculation (and condemnation), both from the Hebrew side and the Christian side. The consensus is that Elimelech turned his back on God, turned his back on his faith, and instead trusted in himself to provide for his family, to find success that he was probably used to prior to the famine in Bethlehem and wanted to provide his family with again.
Because there is not much for me to go on from these two Biblical verses, the best we can do is speculate the man's motives. What God-fearing and respectable man wouldn't want to provide a better life for his family? If your family were on the brink of starvation, and there was no end of hardship in sight, wouldn't you choose to move too? Wouldn't you feel compelled to move because that is what the responsible thing to do is? So was his move to Moab an act of faithlessness, or an act of responsibility? We will never know for sure, but we do know that despite his intentions, he did not live to see the fruits of his decision - bad or good.
So begins the story of Ruth, and her story begins rather with Naomi, whose story actually begins when her husband chose to move away from everything she knew and loved to go to a strange land in hopes of a brighter future.
Food for thought:
1. Have you ever been in a place in your life where starting over or making a big change caused you to question your own motives? Have you ever been faced with a decision that you know was placed before you because of your faith? or as a challenge to your faith? or in spite of your faith? How did you make your choice? How has God revealed Himself throughout that choice?
2. Reading Ruth 1:1-2, how do you think Elimelech felt leading up to and during his decision to leave Bethlehem?
3. What does the Bible say about how the Lord will take care of us? (Refer to Psalms 55:22; Matthew 6:28-34; 1 Peter 5: 6-7) Does this affect how you view choices you have made in the past or choices you are presented with currently?
4. IS God's promise to take care of you enough?
Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to take care of me. Thank you for encouraging me not to worry and for promising to take care of me and meet my needs. Lord, I ask that you grant me the wisdom to discern the difference between my needs from my wants, and that you help me be willing to sacrifice my wants in order to focus more completely on your kingdom and your righteousness. Lord, grant me peace and patience through the periods that I perceive to be times of hardship, and that you show me grace when I fail to be thankful for the times when you clearly hold me tight in your grasp. And Lord, please help me to be a light and a reflection of you as I, in turn, care for others who might be in need.
Thank you for joining me as I continue to research and learn about Ruth. I hope you will return as I continue sharing what I am learning and as I continue to write Great Is His Faithfulness.