In HER Shoes – Ruth (Week 1)
Happy Sunday! And welcome to the first summary post of our new series stepping into the shoes of Ruth. We have thrown away all our assumptions and things that we think we know about her, and are starting from scratch this week. With empty minds and fresh thoughts, we have been meditating on the following verse:
“They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.” Ruth 1:4-5
Things Weren’t Simple
Do you ever have the desire to have a simple, “normal” life? Where you meet someone, get married, have kids and get a “happily ever after” moment? Well this isn’t that story. Firstly, the main characters find themselves in a country they’d rather not be in. Moab wasn’t exactly first choice for Israelites to live. Moabites were enemies of Israel, descended from Lot’s incest, and it would have been a difficult decision for Naomi to have to go along with when her husband made it. But they were in the midst of famine, and so the nice family life that Naomi had probably dreamed of having wasn’t on the cards unless something big changed.
This family moved and set up life in Moab, hoping to return one day. Whilst there they found it welcoming, and they saw hope in a happily ever after, making friends and finding wives for their sons. They built a family life up, and Ruth became a part of that. But things surely couldn’t have been as “happy” as they seemed, as within a short space of time all three men died.
What we don’t know is how old the boys were when they moved to Moab. How long after they moved they got married. How long they were married before they died. What they all died of. Why neither daughter-in-law was able to have a baby before their husbands died (especially as there wouldn’t have been much in the way of birth control in those days!). How old was Ruth? So many unanswered questions making their life not at all simple.
Ruth was in an unthinkable situation
So now we know the story of this family isn’t simple, we turn our attention to Ruth. A Moabitess who finds herself in this family who moved to her country. She probably wouldn’t have had much of a choice about marrying into the family (that would have been between the two fathers), and we don’t know how much time she was married to him before his death. Either way, this was a situation I’m sure none of us would like to go through. Our husbands are our partners, best friends, confidants and much much more. To lose her husband would have been devastating. To lose him without having any kids would have been even worse, as she would have nothing and no-one to look after her. Not a great position to be in. I would be terrified if I was in Ruth’s shoes and overwhelmed, with grief and confusion and uncertainty over what to do next.
Ruth had to make impossible decisions
Finding herself in this new and unthinkable situation, Ruth is then forced to make some pretty huge life decisions. This is not something she would have had to do up til then – the men in her life would have made most of the big decisions for her. Her Dad followed by her husband would have been the decision makers. I imagine she might have been paralysed with fear to start off with. How would she have dealt with this?
When I am paralysed by the fear of making a big decision, my first port of call is praying and talking to God. I wonder what kind of faith Ruth had at this point? Did she know God already? What had her upbringing been like in Moab and what did her husband teach her?
Ruth then had to take into account her own grief, as well as that of a mother-in-law who is grieving too. Not an easy balance. I know that I would have felt more comfortable going back to my birth mums rather than staying with my mother-in-law, but then I am not LIVING with my in laws like Ruth would have been. I can’t possibly be as close to my in-laws as Ruth would have been, living, working, talking every day with Naomi. They would have become the closest people in her life, and her birth family may not even have been in the picture for her anymore. To go back home would have been humiliating and a burden on her birth family. It is very different to now, when I know I would be welcomed back and supported in either household.
What can we learn from Ruth this week?
As I stepped into Ruth’s shoes this week I felt completely overwhelmed by the situation she found herself in and the decisions she had to made on her own. Perhaps it puts some of our situations into context this week. Be thankful for the family and support networks you have around you, whether that is your birth family, the families you have married into, your church family or other friends who feel like family. Be thankful that we have a God who loves to guide and lead us, who can help us and be our strength in any and every situation we find ourselves in.
We move on to our next verse in the story of Ruth, looking at when and how she makes a decision about her future:
“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17
Philippa, one of the Mummy Meditations Champions, will be leading the Facebook Live discussion to kick us off this Monday night at 8pm, so I do hope you will join us all to start your week of meditating!!