Read |Ruth 1|
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. (Ruth 1:16).
April 17, 1988, my mother beams as she reflects on her public commitment to raise me in the fear of the Lord. She is flanked on both sides by my grandmother (in the peach dress) and my godmother (in the floral patterned dress): both of whom were God honoring women. God ushered me into the world and then surrounded me with His love through the flesh and bone of these women: the most excellent, being my mother.
In the first chapter of Ruth we are introduced to the initial setting, problem and main people who will captivate our attention for the remainder of the story. We learn that they-Naomi, her husband and two sons-are confronted with the lack of food in their home, Bethlehem. We see that, under the counsel of her husband, Ruth travels with her family to live in enemy territory-the land of the Moabites. We see further that, there in Moab, she finds food, settles and makes a life, which is soon utterly disturbed by death. She loses her husband and her two sons. She is a sweet woman who experiences great suffering. Suffering that changes her name to Mara. (Ruth 1:20).
But, she receives word. Word that there is food where there was once lack and makes up her mind to return to Bethlehem. She is accompanied by her two daughters-in-law. Caught up in her grief, she urges them to return that they might continue life in Moab, where they have hope of marrying again. Her plea finds acceptance with Orpah, but not Ruth, who replies:
Don’t plead with me to abandon you
Ruth's response is not one of cultural or traditional allegiance. It is the heartfelt and pure commitment of one woman to another. What kind of life did Naomi live before Ruth to inspire such loyalty? How did she, in the midst of great trial and tribulation, live such that Ruth desired to not only stay with her, but to cleave to her people and her God? Pause and think about it. We don't get many details about how Naomi shows up to her life. But, in the faithful commitment of Ruth, we get a hint. We see a sign that Naomi must have lived a life that exalted God above the false idols of Ruth's land-Moab. And because of Naomi's faithfulness, Ruth enters into the privilege of being counted as a daughter of the Most High God.
As I reflect on this ancient mother-daughter pair, I can't help but think of my own mother, who has painted a picture of God's excellent worth through her unabashed reliance on Him in the small and great things. She has consistently yielded her frailty to be considered by our strong and merciful King, and He has always proved Himself (right before my eyes) to be faithfully strong and merciful towards us.
Nowhere did she require His help more than in mothering me -her knees testify to this fact. They are not worn because of age, they are worn because of her great love for me, expressed in her consistent surrendering of my life (all of it) to God. The commitment she made on April 17, 1988, to raise me in the fear (awe) of God, she honored and is still honoring. And because of her faithfulness I too have made the vow to cleave to her God.
Every triumph of my life-the places where Christ's reign grows with increasing measure-can be mapped onto a prayer she has prayed. She keeps these prayers on egg shaped pieces of paper in her Bible. And when faith is made sight, she reads them aloud to me. In my wandering years she mentored me, not only with her words but, with her life. In all the places where she allowed the light to seep in, it seeped through and testified to a more excellent way. Today, I honor my mother and mother in the faith, Pat Sinclair. What great love God has shown me in making you my mother.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. She leads the Be-Held Community: a group of women seeking, living and being transformed by the truth of God’s Word together.