“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!”
Withholding Nothing, Together We Go
In this exchange between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, radical risk-taking love declared that even though Ruth faced poverty and loneliness she would not leave her mother-in-law’s side. She promises to never forsake her or turn back even though her future as a widow was bleak and her life would be one of sacrifice if she followed Naomi. Ruth has no promise of marriage or children, no security should she grow old and tired. No familiarity that this was a land and a people she knew, a language that was familiar, customs she had grown up with. Yet, she commits her whole life to the unknown, even promising to be buried together in the same place despite the likelihood that Naomi would die long before her.
She is not only committing to Naomi, she is cutting ties with all the former things. Her old religion, her old way of life, the land she had come from. Indeed, she is acknowledging her new identity as someone who will serve and worship Naomi’s God and who will journey with her back to a land she did not know.
Much like Ruth, we are a people called to a profound and essential commitment to one another and to our God.