Sermon in a nutshell: Ruth 1:6-18 “Wherever You Go, I Will Go.”
Last Sunday, we examined the “root cause” of the famine in the land (Bethlehem). When people do not worship God as their king and do whatever they like, they can experience financial crises and loss of hope. We try to be our own kings and we fail. We have made a mess of our lives.
This situation is not where God wants us. God wants us to have an abundant life. God wants all the blessings that He has planned for us to be restored. So, we will find out, step-by-step, how to re-claim the blessings that God has preordained for His creation.
The first step for recovery is to be God’s children again. We have to come back to God. That is what Naomi did. “When Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.” Naomi heard that God showed mercy to God’s people. Naomi lost everything in a foreign land. She lost her hometown when she left Bethlehem. She lost her husband and her two sons. She did not have hope in the land of Moab. There, however, she heard that God gave food for God’s people in her hometown. Like the “prodigal son” (Luke 15) who came back after he exhausted all the means that he had, Naomi decided to come back to her hometown.
The first step towards a blessed life is to reclaim our identity as God’s children. We need to confess that we have made a mess when we try to control our lives. We need to acknowledge that we are now hopeless and helpless. We need to admit that we have hit bottom. We are sinners and WE NEED HELP!
The second step for recovery is to see what we still have. When we are in a helpless situation, we feel that we have nothing. However, look around carefully. Everybody still has something. All of us still have something in our hands. Around us, we still have some people who care for us.
However, we need to open our hearts to see what we still have. Naomi thought that she did not have hope. She thought that she did not have anybody left around her. She said to her daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me! May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband!” Naomi did not expect any of them to stay with her. Naomi, in her despair, could not see the value of the people around her.
However, the daughters-in-law said to Naomi, “We will go back with you to your people.” They understood the pain of a widow because they were in the same situation. Even when we have challenges in our lives, we can still live when we have other people who understand our pains and hurts. But Naomi could not accept their love. When we lose all our hope, we cannot love others and we cannot accept the love of other people. Naomi refused to be consoled and said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters! It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has turned against me!”
When we lose hope, we feel that God has struck us! But it is we who have made a mess! We often blame God for the trouble that we experience in our lives. Naomi refused to accept the love of her daughters-in-law and blamed God for the suffering in her life. In her statement above, we also know that she did not have knowledge of the word of God. (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). A levirate marriage would require her to marry her brother-in-law, bear a son, and that child would carry Elimelech’s name. The only other possibility to continue Elimelech’s name would be if she were pregnant with a boy child when Elimelech died. If she instead found a husband outside of the family and became pregnant, the child would not be Elimelech’s descendant! Naomi heard about the word of God but she did not understand.
When we do not know the Bible, we have many misconceptions about God’s love and God’s will. That is why people blame God when they are the ones who make their own trouble in this world. When we know who God is and how wonderful God’s love is, we cannot blame God when things are not going well. We know for sure that God has done everything for us to save us and to give us blessings. God has even given up His only begotten son to save us! God is willing and ready to forgive us and to save us!
When Naomi said this, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. They made different decisions. The Bible does not blame Orpah for her decision. It is an acceptable choice in God’s eyes. However, it was Ruth who became a channel of God’s blessings. She made her decision. “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. “When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Look around you! There are people who care for you and who love you! Look up! There is your Creator who formed you and there is your Savior who died for you! Look inside you! There is the Holy Spirit who still prays for you and guides you! You are not alone if you can see what you have! This is the beginning of the recovery! We are on our way to claim our blessings. What would be the next step? I will tell you more about it next Sunday (to be continued)!
- Who is still with you now?
- What makes you feel now that you are still God’s child?