Ruth, heroine of a story loved by multitudes, began life as a Moabite. Moab was the son of Lot and his daughter, so Ruth's lineage was a shameful one in the eyes of the Hebrews. Her story could have been a sad one, but Ruth took charge of her own life and turned it into one of the happiest stories in the Old Testament.- A Portrait of Ruth by Frances Fuller, Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, pg 252 (emphasis mine)
Anyone who reads this blog on a semi-regular basis will know that I love the story of Ruth, I agree that the story of her life is indeed one of the most beloved of the Old Testament. However, I have to disagree that she took her life into her own hands. This is not the image put forth by her story. Ruth didn't take her life into her own hands, she laid it into the hands of the God she'd come to know through her mother in law, Naomi.
Ruth easily could have gone to her father's home, she easily could have returned to her old life. In fact Naomi urges Ruth to do just that. It would have made sense for her to do so, perhaps in returning to her father he would be able to find her another husband to care for her. But Ruth understood that Naomi was returning to her home land, to her culture, to her God. Ruth understood that the God of Naomi was the true God and she was willing to face uncertain conditions in order to follow God. To any onlooker it wouldn't have made sense, but Scripture repeatedly exhorts us to "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)
Ruth was willing to lean solely upon God's great wisdom, she was willing to turn away from everything she'd ever known to follow God. She was willing to head out into a land she'd probably never seen without any resources, without a husband, all to serve God. Ruth worked from sun up to sun down to care for her widowed mother in law. All human reasoning would have declared this situation to be disparaging, depressing, even seemingly insurmountable. But still Ruth trusted. What may have seemed foolish to the world was in God's great plan.
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:24-25)
In the lives of the disciples we see this same trust mirrored. Christ came and called them, and they were willing to just walk away from everything to follow. They didn't go home and pack a lunch, they didn't give their employers two weeks notice. Jesus said "follow me" and they did. They were willing to deny their lives, they were willing to eventually lose their lives in order to see God move in their lives.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)
Sure they could have gone back to fishing, sure they would have lived a life that would have fed their bellies, but were they unwilling to risk it all, would they have seen God's plan for their lives unfold to His glory? If they were unwilling to spread the Good News, if Ruth had been unwilling to walk into uncharted territory in her life, if they had taken the easy route would they really have been better off? I hardly think so.
If Ruth had turned back from her mother in law she may have gotten a new husband, she may not have had to work in fields all day long, but would she have known God? Would she have seen God's hand in her life? Sure the plans she could have made would have gotten her by, but God had something even bigger in store for her. And all she had to do was believe.