Elimelek’s name means “God is King,” but he failed to live up to that name. When challenges came in the form of a famine (the result of Israel’s disobedience of God), instead of repenting and returning to God, he led his family far away from God. Running from God seldom improves our situation, and that was true for him and his family as both he and his sons died in Moab.
Left with no means of support, his wife Naomi learns the situation in Israel has improved. She decides to return to her people, to God. What I see anew today is that for all the time they had spent together up until this point, it is not until Naomi takes a stand and decides to return to Israel that Ruth makes a decision to follow her.
It’s hard for people to follow you if you aren’t going anywhere.
Only when we follow God boldly do others see something worthwhile. If we are living an average, ordinary life, not so very different from those around us who don’t follow God, why would anyone want to emulate that? There is nothing special or worth following.
But when we step out in faith to do the impossible or when we cope well because we are leaning on God through adversity, others wonder what is different. What gives us the courage to dare the impossible? What gives us the strength to go on despite painful tragedies? What gives us joy in the midst of sickness or peace when we are surrounded by turmoil?
Ruth had seen something in Naomi. As Ruth watched Naomi lose her husband and then bury her sons as well, Ruth had seen a strength that made her want to know more. Even Naomi’s choice to move home - an arduous journey on foot which was no doubt dangerous for two women traveling alone - inspired Ruth to sacrifice everything she had known to follow.
Am I living a life that would inspire others to join me on the adventure of following God?