And Naomi said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and you're God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
Sentimental wall plaques aside, this is one of the most astonishing declarations recorded in all of Scripture. Stunning. Illogical. Common sense crying, “Foul!” Yet, it was a profoundly spiritual call.
Sometimes, perhaps most times, the spiritual makes more sense than the rational.
It is difficult to know how old Ruth is at this fork in the road. We can’t be sure how much about God (Israel’s God, YHWH) she really understands. But we do see her planting her feet in the middle of a dusty, middle-eastern road, making a major decision full of purpose. Even while Naomi declares that her God appears to be at war with her, Ruth persists. “I want to be with your people. I want to worship your God.” She even has the maturity to understand that Naomi’s God was witness to her promise of faithfulness.
Reading this, reflecting on it, in my mind’s eye placing myself back then just within earshot of these two women sorting out the future, I want to stand up and give Ruth a long round of applause. Shout out, “You go, girl!” She’s not simply being optimistic; Ruth is living courageously, and sacrificially, by faith. She’s going to live and serve this glass-half-empty mother-in-law until she draws her last breath.
And, there is no doubt that the God of “hesed” (faithful, lovingkindness) has taken notice. Faithfulness to people and commitment of life to the God of Abraham are principles that when lived, God eagerly honors.