I’m not sure if you’ve had the same experience but whenever I’ve made a decision to do something or make some kind of change, it’s always so much better if you’ve got company along the journey. I subconsciously look for people who are in the same circumstances or journeying along the same path or better yet, have already been there.
The bible really is a great place to look for people who have already gone through stuff. His Word is so wild. It’s a love letter to us but it’s also a history of His people. It’s a call to remember God through their experiences. To be a witness to all He has done and will do.
If you make a declaration that your word for the year is Brave, well, you can be sure that everything you have ever been afraid of is going to assault you in the next forty-eight hours!
TodayI was thinking about brave people. (Because what I really wanted to do was hide away!) I thought of Ruth. I’m not sure why she was foremost in my mind. I’m not particularly fond of Ruth. I did a bible study on her a loooong time ago and it wasn’t very good. It made her into a super saint. When anyone becomes too saintly for their own good, I’m outa there. Not a fan of Ruth. I’ll admit she got a bad rap from that study.
So I tried to think what was brave about Ruth. She married a Jew. She was a Moabite. Jews were only to marry other Jews. Although at the time, she was living in her homeland of Moab. It was her husband’s family who were aliens. Then her husband died. Ruth was still young. Her brother-in-law and her father-in-law passed away. Her mother-in-law, Naomi was heading back to her Jewish homeland and her two widowed daughters had decided to go along. Naomi sets out and tells the girls to go back to their homes and families. Ruth refuses. She is devoted to her mother-in-law and to her foreign God. So Ruth goes with Naomi to Bethlehem, where Ruth is now the foreigner. They are two widows who have nothing. Yet Ruth is determined to make it work for herself and her mother-in-law. She is brave.
The call to follow God to a foreign land or city takes a tremendous amount of courage. Just ask any missionary or pastor. We’ve never been missionaries so I don’t pretend to know their stories. But as a pastor’s spouse, we’ve left our home province to go to serve in a new province. It may still be the same country but our regions are very different in climate, culture and food, just for starters. It was still a culture shock. Following God’s call for any ministry, sometimes means leaving behind family and friends, some of whom, don’t understand the decision you have made. Why leave what you know for something different, foreign? Why leave the comfort of your home, your job security for discomfort, trials and most likely, an uphill battle?
I’m sure Ruth’s mother wanted her back in her home and married to a Moabite. I think her family whispered and talked about her sanity or lack of it. She faced immense pressure to do what was expected of her. But God had other plans. The crazy thing was, this Moabite, who grew up worshipping other gods, decides to follow YAWEH, even though it makes no worldly sense. Ruth recognized Him, for who He was. The ONE TRUE GOD. She made her plans accordingly. Ruth was brave.
Here’s a thought. God called Ruth to be brave because He knew she had it in her. He had created her after all. He knew what He had planned for her. He had given her all she ever needed. Her bravery came in her obedience.
Today as I just want to crawl back under warm blankets and stick my head in the sand, I remember Ruth. I’m sure she thought to herself, once in Bethlehem, “What am I doing here?” But she did not crawl under a shawl and hide. She took care of her mother-in-law and followed a God she trusted. Ruth was brave.