Where You Go I Will Go
“Do not plead with me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” Ruth 1:16 (NASB)
This verse has all the right elements for the beginnings of a great romantic story, and I love me a good romance. The passion. The sacrifice. The boldness of heading into unfamiliar lands.
From the outside looking in, my story, much like Ruth’s story, sounds passionate, adventurous, with the allure of an epic plot. The problem is, within all great stories is a conflict where our character is tested.
For Ruth, it was in her bold commitment to follow her mother-in-law; for me, it was in agreeing to marry my international husband.
Little did I know my “yes” to him also meant I’d part with most my belongings, be asked to resign my job, lose an income…then a house and a credit score, all before moving to Honduras right before a pandemic. For the next year or so, I would feel the isolation of language barriers, navigate hidden cultural expectations, and adjust to a wildly unfamiliar land, while coming violently aware of my own neglected comforts and the shame of feeling impoverished in my land, but wealthy in his.
Commitment to Follow the Lord Does Not Guarantee Our Comforts
“What have I done?” I’ve shamefully thought…more than once.
I imagine Ruth making a similar commitment as she boldly declared, “I will go where you go…” and meant it physically, relationally, and spiritually. Ruth made a bold declaration of loyalty that would demand the security and familiarity of her home, the faithfulness to an embittered mother-in-law, and a venture to an unfamiliar land and a new way of life.
The commitment to the hard journey didn’t end when she finally arrived in Bethlehem. No, for Ruth, her new way of life initially meant poverty. Ruth did not leave her family and culture to become a princess in prosperity.
Instead, she finds herself experiencing long days gleaning the fields at great personal risk… to survive. I can imagine Ruth coming home at night dirty, hungry, and sore, but with plenty of work left to do to turn barley into bread.
If there’s one thing Ruth’s journey has mirrored for my own is our commitment to follow after the Lord does not guarantee our comfort. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed to be the opposite–uncomfortable.
Doesn’t sound very romantic anymore, does it?
God Prioritizes our Character Development over our Comforts
Commitment to a person, a calling, or a purpose can leave you dirty, hungry, and sore with plenty of hard work. It’s messy, it’s not glamorous, and it can come at great personal sacrifice.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather fast forward a few paragraphs to Ruth and her new husband living happily ever after as the grandparents of the royal line than linger on the insecurity and vulnerability she would have felt as a widow and a foreigner. I’d rather enjoy the romantic pursuit of her redemption than to pause at perhaps the grieving of her heart at the loss of her husband, family, and culture. I’d rather picture a heroic Boaz protecting her in the field than wonder why he would need to in the first place.
I’d like to skip the hard parts of my own story too.
But it was all these hardships that developed a character worth noticing. Boaz says to Ruth, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me…the Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord” (Ruth 2:11-12).
Ruth caught the attention of her one-day husband because of all she had done everyday leading up to that moment. The sacrifice, the loss, the perseverance–the conflict of Ruth’s story would be redeemed as a result of her character and constitution. Boaz noticed.
Others noticed. She didn’t have to prove her own worth; her faithfulness, despite what it cost her, was on glorious display for all to see. She would receive a husband, a son, and a heritage in the line of Jesus as a result.
Skip the Story, Miss the Glory
The sum of Ruth’s story is a combination of tragic loss with epic redemption. Which makes me wonder – if I skipped the tragic losses, would I even notice the epic redemption?
Probably not. In fact, if Ruth just found her way into Boaz’ home because she met him at her Tuesday run to the market, it probably wouldn’t make much of a story at all. If I skipped over the hard parts of Ruth’s story, I would miss the glory. To skip over the hard parts of my own story, I would miss out on my own redemptive glory, and frankly, that’s the best part.
Father, as we walk out hard seasons–season of grief, loss, or pain, help us to remember You are writing an epic redemptive story personalized for us and reflective of You. Help us to remember it’s a season of character development, and that you give us what we need to endure and press through, and what we don’t feel like we have, we can ask for boldly. Thank you that you walk alongside us on the journey, and that we will look a little more like You on the other side.
May God always guide your path.
You can find guest contributor Amanda Gallagher on Instagram at @mandagallagher1