“Where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, when you move I’ll move, I will follow you.” A lyric from Chris Tomlin’s song, “I Will Follow.” I loved this song growing up and still hum the tune to this day. From assumption I thought this might have come from Psalms or Proverbs where many lyrical verses or scriptures are found. Did you know this verse comes from the Story of Ruth? A story growing up we assume is about loyalty to family and sacrifice. In truth, this story is a perfect example of redemption and a mother who was able to bring a dear friend/daughter in law to Christ.
As I read the story of Naomi and Ruth with a new pair of eyes two verses stuck out to me that had no significant meaning to me before today. Naomi loses her husband and two sons and both daughters are ready to stay with her and take care of her because she has begun to become weak and age (Miller). Naomi in tears tells her daughters to go home because she has nothing to offer them anymore. Oprah makes the decision to go home and Naomi says, “Your sister in law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her (Ruth Chapter 1).” Wait….so you’re telling me not only did Naomi let her sons marry women who didn’t believe in Christ but then she tells them both to leave to go worship their own gods even though she clearly needs someone to help take care of her in old age. She makes the selfless decision to try and give both girls a happy life and the opportunity to start over.
To fully understand the story to it’s potential we must understand the context of it. Naomi’s husband Elimelech had moved her and their two sons from Bethlehem to Moab to escape a famine. The religions in these two cities were very different. Bethlehem was a place that was sacred when it came to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moab on the other hand is described as, “heathen, idolatrous, long-standing enemies of God’s people (Hampton).” The decision to move their family across the land caused their religious beliefs to be in the minority, which explains why both sons ended up marrying Moabite women. To have idols was completely normal and I’m sure would have been easy to conform to this religion. I mean how many of us would be the strong Christians we are today is if wasn’t popular or a “cool” thing to do?
Ruth has a special moment I believe is worth taking a closer look at with Naomi. Ruth tells Naomi, “Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God (Ruth Chapter 1).” Not only does she sacrifice a comfortable life but in this moment she confesses that God is her savior and if that’s whom Naomi worships then that’s who she will worship as well. I am so glad I had the opportunity to re-read this beautiful story because here it became clear to me because of Naomi’s kindness and the way she carried herself and I’m sure the influence of her husband (Naomi’s son) that had passed she committed her life to following Christ.
With all of this said what is the take-away for us as a follower of Christ? Is there a bigger story than to just be loyal to your family? What if the story is a depiction of how the loyalty and kindness you display is a stepping-stone to guiding them to a life with Christ. Naomi never imposed her opinion on religion onto her daughter in law’s lives but simply lived the way God would have lived. Because of this, God helped redeem Naomi’s story of her families passing into a true example of love and loyalty and what that can do for the kingdom.
Keately, J. Hampton. “5. The Rebellion of the Moabites (2 Kings 3:1-12).” Bible.org. N.p., 8 June 2004. Web. 27 June 2015.
Miller, Amy. “The Story of Ruth and Naomi.” The Story of Ruth and Naomi. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2015.
Ruth Chapter 1.” The Bible. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 340-41. Print. The MessageVersion.