I always come back to Ruth.
It used to be that I would go through “a dry spell,” “a valley,” I’d get the spiritual humdrums and just stop. everything. Then eventually something of the spirit would speak it’s way back into my heart, and I’d find myself walking the road from Moab to Bethlehem once more. From a seemingly godless land of plenty, to that holy city that had not yet seen it’s full glory come to pass.
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
Talk about obedient wife. Naomi knows where they are, she knows that this is the land of plenty, despite the famine. She knows that this is the place of God, that this is where they are supposed to be. Elimelek knows it too. But he allows his daily circumstances to dictate his everything. And so, they pack up everything and leave God behind, to find food and shelter in a land free from God. To get a good picture of where they were going, just think about who the original Moab was. The product of the drunken incestuous night that Lot was tricked into by his daughters. We are leaving the promised land and moving to Reno baby. and Naomi knows this. Everything that we learn about her, everything we know about Jewish homes back then, they were so acutely aware of who God was and where He was, and still Elimilek said go, and off she went.
What do I think happened there? Did Naomi lay down her case for staying in front of her husband? Did she throw her hands up in the air, lament this husband of hers and swear he would be the death of her? Did she call out to God and say even now in this I know thy will be done, I will follow this man you have sent me, and trust that you will lead us through as you have before?
There are so many words I could put into her mouth. So many scenarios I could concoct out of thin air. And as much as I like to speculate on this relationship that set so much in motion, I think there is so much beauty in the simple statement; So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.
Together they went.
For a while.
Now the together I’m on board with. “Doing life” together, I get, though I abhor that expression. But “For a while,” I stumble there. So often I make decisions or start down paths thinking that it’s forever, thinking that once I’m locked and loaded there’s no way out. I start to worry that I’ve set in motion the wrong thing. That God can’t redeem me from the wrong path chosen.
Some things in my life are going to be permanent, some in fact are going to be ever lasting, but most of the things in my life are going to be for a while. And Naomi knew that. She knew a great God with a great plan, who had seen them through many things. And she knew that this time in Moab would be for a while. Now had she known it would kill all her menfolk, I’d like to think she would have had some misgivings, but she didn’t kick up a fuss about leaving her hometown, her friends, her family, her extended family, her life. Because “for a while” you can do anything.
My kids are little. They are all under 6 and life is crazy. Even when we don’t have plans and are at a normal baseline, we are exhausted and life is just crazy.
But I can do anything for a while. And the things I’ve laid aside for these wonderful years with my kids, they are only aside for a while.
The dreams that come and go with my seasons, might only be dreams for a while, there’s still time for that while to become the rest of my days.
This time with my kids is only for a while and I will cherish it and rail against it, adore them and tear my hear out until it is done.
Together they went for a while.
I need Lin Manuel Miranda to set that to music.