The three widows were travelling down the dusty, dirt road. And suddenly, they stopped, and began to talk. And as they talked they began to weep, clinging to each other.
They had been journeying towards Bethlehem, towards the older woman’s home and people. But then Naomi stopped, and instructed her two daughter-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth, to return home, to their Moabite families. Naomi had realized that they would have better opportunities to find a husband and make a life amongst their own people, than they would with with her people, in Judah. (Ruth 1: 6-13)
After some persuasion, Orpah decided to return home to her family.
But Ruth could not be persuaded. In one of the most beautiful declarations of faith and love and commitment in Scripture, Ruth states,
“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.” (Ruth 1:16-18)
As Scripture continues to share Naomi and Ruth’s journey down that dusty road into Bethlehem, we have the privilege of observing and learning from their experiences and relationship.
When I initially stepped into their story, I assumed that their relationship was one where the elder, more experienced woman mentored the younger woman.
But the more I researched their story it became clear that this relationship did not reflect a one-directional form of mentoring, where only the elder mentored. Rather, their story depicts a relationship where mutual mentoring and mutual nurturing existed.
Scripture reveals that each woman contributed to the relationship’s fruitfulness. Both women were honest and authentic and courageous, and took turns assuming the lead. They supported one another through the challenges. Ruth helped Naomi rediscover joy and faith. They pooled their wisdom to help Ruth navigate what was for her a foreign culture.
And throughout it all, God remained their foundation. For on that dusty road, not only did Ruth commit to Naomi, she also was committing to Naomi’s God.
And so God became the foundation. The centre of their relationship.
We are called to such relationships.
Because whenever God is at the centre, we become filled with His amazing, abundant love. A love so rich and nourishing, that it fills us to overflowing, spilling out and weaving into our earthly, horizontal relationships.
A love that reflects the nature of God, that abounds with His grace, steadfastness, compassion, patience, courage, forgiveness, truth, and strength.
As we learn from Ruth and Naomi’s story and relationship, and begin to forge our own relationships based on the same foundations of faith and love, with God at the centre, we will also experience fruitful, authentic, loving relationships and heart transformation.
And as our relationships provide the space for us to nurture and mentor and sustain one another, we will also shepherd one another to stay the course, as we continue to walk forward on that dusty, yet profoundly beautiful, road.
Image Credits: Painting: “Wither Thou goest”, Sandy Freckleton Gagan
Photo: Josh Appel, from Unsplash
@fiveminutefriday’s weekly prompt: ONLY