“[Naomi] was left without her two sons and her husband… She had heard… 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?.. Go your way, for I am too old to have a husband… Even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying?..’ 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.’ But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go… Your people shall be my people, and your God my God... May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:5-17
Having been bereaved in a foreign (and heathen) place, where they had originally trekked for food during famine, Naomi left Moab to return to her homeland. Moved by the loving support of her widowed daughters-in-law, she urged them to stay with their people, where they would have a better chance of finding husbands. Orpah reluctantly agreed, but Ruth had made a deeper commitment to this family than just through marriage– she had come to love their God. Her life was no longer a matter of fulfilling her own wishes, or meeting cultural expectations of a family, but had been caught up in the higher matter of faith, of putting away gods to know and align with the true, personal God of Israel. Her devotion was not only to Naomi, but to the mighty LORD she represented, and she was all in. She would follow, forever.
It is easy to begin each day with ‘my want,’ but as we grow with Jesus, He gradually transfers my dreams and self-driven desire for satisfaction to Him and His: ‘Your want.’ Orpah’s loyalty to Naomi was no less than her sister-in-law’s, but she had not yet surrendered to a life lost in the LORD.
What, and who, captivates me? To what measure is my devotion to Almighty God seen in the alliances I keep, the choices I make, the directions I take? Are there idols in my foreground that hold sway over eternal God?
LORD on high, I claim You as my God, from Whom I cannot be separated. May I ever align with and grow alongside Your people, and follow You. (Romans 8:38-39; Hebrews 13:5)