Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” (Ruth 1:6-15 ESV)
Naomi was determined to dissuade Ruth from coming to Bethlehem. Four times in this soliloquy she demands that Ruth return. Her words are forceful: return, turn back, turn back, return. She’s angry at God. She’s mad at the world. Life has dealt her an ugly blow and she’s looking for someone to blame. She feels she has already put Ruth and Orpah through enough. You can hear it in her language: No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me. In other words, “It’s my fault you’re where you are–widowed and following a bitter old woman to her homeland. Turn back!”
One must wonder why Ruth would ever want to continue the long trek from Moab to Bethlehem with a woman compelling her to go home. Ruth has no intentions of caving to Naomi’s pressure. Notice her answer:
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 your 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.” (Ruth 1:16-17 ESV)
Her language is anything but that of a quitter. She answers Naomi’s repeated commands to turn back with her own mantra: I will.
- For where you go, I will go.
- And where you lodge, I will lodge.
- Where you die, I will die.
- And there will I be buried.
Ruth’s language is the language of determination.
Some of you are staring down a road you’ve never traveled down before. You have no idea where it will lead, what you will find or even who you will be at the end of the road. In those times, focusing on what you don’t know will stop you dead in your tracks. Yours must be the language of “I will.”
I will trust God…no matter what.
I will pray….no matter what.
I will worship…no matter what.