Saturday, July 22, 2017

Not our responsibility

Naomi and her daughers-in-law - Gustave Dore

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ruth 1:1-22

TO CHEW ON: "… for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!" Ruth 1:13

Naomi had her situation figured out. She would return to Israel because the famine that caused her family to move to Moab was over. But it was a bitter return. For death had taken all the men in her life and with them all her hopes for grandchildren. The last thing she wanted at this point was to be responsible for the continued childlessness of her daughters-in-law. Our focus verse is almost like an apology to them that they have been implicated in what she feels is God's judgment of her.

However, here, in the middle of her trial, Naomi's sight is still partial. Wasn't she taking on herself a burden of blame that had no place on her shoulders?

But we do that too. Our health gives way, or there's a downturn in the economy, or we suffer a disaster and feel like the course of our life is set. On top of that we feel responsible for and guilty about the people we're dragging along with us into these situations.

Orpah accepted Naomi's logic and turned back. But Ruth didn't. We'll never know exactly why but I like to think she saw something attractive in even depressed Naomi's faith. In the ten-or-so years she had known the family, somehow their God had captured her heart to the extent she could say, "Your God (shall be) my God" - Ruth 1:16.

(Look! here we have it again... that personal decision to make the distant deity of an acquaintance My God)

I love how this story ends, with Ruth a big part of the solution. Here's what the women of the town, rejoicing at the time of Obed's birth (Ruth's son, Naomi's grandson) say to Naomi: "And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him" - Ruth 4:14.

What can we apply to our lives form this story? Two possibilities:

1. It's too soon to judge a situation's conclusion and meaning when we're in the middle of it.

2. God is responsible for those implicated in our problems—not us. If Naomi had insisted that Ruth return home with Orpah she would have missed out on the great climax of her life. Instead, she took Ruth back with her and made it possible for God to give her a surprise ending and show His faithfulness to Ruth as well as to her.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to release my circumstances and my loved ones to Your care, not take undue responsibility for them. May my words and actions help them believe that You can turn things around and care for them too. Amen.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.

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