‘But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me GOD —not even death itself is going to come between us!” (Ruth 1:16-17 MSG)’
But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (Ruth 1:16-17 NLT)
‘Ruth clings to Naomi… what does it mean to cling to?
I get uncomfortable when people are clingy or needy….is this what Ruth was?
or was it some form of loyalty?
I feel way more comfortable when the goal is distance.
If someone else struggles to let people agape-love them will I continue to define love as God intended or will I let them define the connection.
Ruth abandons herself to a people she has not met and a God she has only heard stories about. That faith and intentional clinging (the agape-love) abandonment ..that is what I want this story to push me to reach for.
It sound familiar…when I moved to Bendigo..I didn’t know anyone and chose to be Ruth and cling! I often get told ‘it’s ok for you, you are a pastor’ like I have some special clinging gift.
I actually find the Naomi response easier than the Ruth one. Naomi’s response is reflective of her goal in this relationship… Her goal is distance. Ruth’s gaol is a heart connection.
Over this past week I have been mulling over this question about clinging.
My normal is distance and my default is distance. From the age of 5 I lived in another country to my parents and Iife has often lead me to not cling too tightly to people because it won’t be long before they are pulled out of my clinging arms. I find the cling and ‘my people’ side of this story confronting and yet it requires a sort of faith and love that is what my walk with God is all about.
I’m a TCK (transcultural kid) which means no body fits the category of ‘my people’. That means I can let go of people quickly but clinging is an act of faith.
Life has forced me to make a ‘people’ I did not know ‘my people‘ or at least try to make them ‘my people‘. It doesn’t come easy. So if I am forced to love or circumstances demand I care I actually resist it. Agape love is a loyalty and commitment that refuses to make distance the goal. To love a bitter woman whose goal is distance and who’s heart is empty and bitter..that is where I must paint myself into this picture. Ruth clings to something that is not loveable by affection and feeling but by choice. She must have had the affection type of love but her choice to stay is a choice to make her love the love of God ..the covenant type of love not just the family affection type of love.
Are there some I am seeking distance with when faith is asking me to cling.
I remember burping into someone at the butcher. She had been one of ‘my people’, a covenant friend but she and her family had severed ties with us and it had been brutal. My heart had not computed that reality and I know this because I can still remember the last thing I said to her ‘my goal will always be connection’, the next year or two were painful but I knew what God done in me because the goal was purely a covenant response.i still have not heard or seen this ‘friend’ since but my goal is still the same because I want to believe that should she ever come to a place where goal switches from distance to connection, my heart is ruled by love not fear or unforgiveness or hurt…she may never be ‘my people’ but I want the Ruth response to someone else’s bitterness.
Ruth had to let go of some stuff in order to hold tightly to Naomi’s God. She had to let go…
I am so good at clinging to the wrong stuff and clinging to the wrong people.
God help me to let go of what I have affection for that will rob me of what I should be clinging to and agape-loving. Affection is good but should not be the decider.
Who are MY people?
Do I know what I am clinging to …when I am clinging to the right stuff and the right people and the right God…the outcomes are the same as Ruth ..hard but glorious and blessed and rich. The goodness and faithfulness and agape love of God.
I have had to unlock my heart and stop clinging to people I love to pursue the purpose and will of God…Ruth did too. She had to walk away from her family, own culture, her home, her comforts, her gods, her way of doing things, her grief, her standing in community, her close relaitonships, her family to cling to a whole new way.
She had to forsake in order to cling…
My prayer today is one of discernment…to know today, what I am clinging to that I need to let go of. Are there people I have been clinging to that I need to let go of and are there people that deserve my loyalty?
Are there things I need to leave behind .. Things I am familiar with, culture, gods, and even people to pursue…I am in pursuit of the purpose of God for my life and it is going to require faith, hope and agape.
As the younger woman …who, as an older woman, do I need cling to outside of my world that is a link to God’s favour for me ?
Is there someone who can not see her own gift that is the link to my future and connections?
Is there someone in my life I am finding hard to agape love because I am waiting for the feeling of affection to motivate me instead of faith?
Is there someone I have pushed away because their harshness and bitterness has hidden the richness of their experience and and their understanding of the culture of faith?
Is there someone trying to cling to me but I am pushing them away because of my own bitter experiences and yet they have chosen agape-love. I want eyes to see the Ruth and Orpah’s in my life and draw them to me not push them away but if I am only offering bitterness it won’t be long before they make the Orpah choice, they have not experiecend the agape love of God for themselves.
As the older woman are there younger women seeking to cling to me and willing to leave what they know, in order to do so but I can not see it because I am caught up in me and the hard places of my story.
God help me to know what rights I am clinging to and what aspects of the Moabite culture I need to let go of in order to ‘entreat me not to leave’.