“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!””
Ruth 1:16-17 NLT
Do you remember when big mama and granddaddy were married for 50+ years? Do you remember when people retired from the same company they worked for years? Do remember players like Magic, Bird, and Jordan playing for the same team, overcoming adversity, winning championships and staying until they couldn’t play anymore?
What happened to commitment? People only stick around for convenience. When conditions no longer suit them they are off to greener pastures. If you can’t stick around during the bad, there’s no need to fake it as I try to get back to good. But there are some people who are called to walk with you for better or worse.
Naomi lost her husband and 10 years later both her sons during a famine in Moab. She heard that it was harvest time back in her hometown. On her way back she told her two daughters-in-law to go back home. They were young and still had the opportunity to find husbands back in their hometowns. Orpah opted to go home. She was sad but she realized she didn’t have it in her to continue this challenging journey. You can’t blame her. Her husband died. There’s a famine and her mother-in-law is old. It’s time to count your losses and go back home. Right?
Ruth did something different! She clung to Naomi. Out of relationship and faith she made a commitment to her mother-in-law. It’s a commitment that has to be made at the crossroads between disaster and destiny. It’s a commitment that has to be made if you’re going to leave a famine and get back to a harvest! Everybody can’t walk with you from where you are now and where God is taking you but if they choose to, this is the commitment they are going to have to make:
- Wherever you go, I will go. When you are committed to something or somebody you make up your mind to trust the direction they are going even though you’ve never been there before. You can’t be committed if you don’t trust the direction they are going. Orpah chose a familiar direction by going home. Ruth chose to trust the direction of her leader.
- Wherever you live, I will live. Living has to do with living conditions. This was remarkable for Ruth to make this commitment because high on the list of every woman is the need for security. There were no men in their lives, which meant there was no guarantee of security. Do you have enough faith to commit beyond security?
- Your people will be my people. This is a commitment to relationship and culture. Ruth was from Moab. Naomi was Hebrew. This meant Ruth would have to adjust to a new culture. If people are going to be able to go forward with you they have to make a commitment to embrace a new culture and establish new relationships. Everybody cannot go forward with you because they can’t handle a new culture! It’s not going to look like where we just left. Can you commit to that?
- Your God will be my God! God is the common denominator when it comes to making a commitment. If you can’t see God in the person you are considering a commitment to then don’t go! Ruth saw God in Naomi and made a commitment to follow her with the certainty that things would get better.
- Where you die I will die. When we make a covenant or commitment in marriage we say, “’Til death do us part!” When you are committed, divorce is not an option. When you are committed, you don’t opt out of your contract. When you are committed, you don’t join another church. When you are committed, you don’t walk away when it gets hard. You struggle together into your harvest even if means dying together trying to make it there.
You don’t commit to dysfunction. You commit to people who have God in them and faith that you will leave a famine and get back to a place of harvest. But you can’t get there without a commitment.
Give me people who can be committed to a vision of getting back to a place of harvest. Help me to be a person of commitment. Give me a sense of hope and resiliency even after losing so much during a famine. Don’t let me focus on who left me. Help me focus on who’s still committed and when we get to the place of the harvest, show us the right field and the right people to reap our new future!
In Jesus’ Name,