Tag Archives: commitment

I’m With You

I don’t know where you’ve been in life, what experiences have touched your heart;  what you have lost, and what you have left; what you have reluctantly had to let go, as you stay behind…

The story of Naomi, and her daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth is heart-wrenching.

Ruth has had to leave her home, but has managed to make a life in Moab.  Her husband has died, but she has found fulfilment in the lives of her sons and their chosen wives, and then the sons have both died and the three women are left.

Ruth 1:1-18

Ruth Is Loyal to Naomi

1-2 Before Israel was ruled by kings, Elimelech from the tribe of Ephrath lived in the town of Bethlehem. His wife was named Naomi, and their two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. But when their crops failed, they moved to the country of Moab.  And while they were there, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi with only her two sons.

Later, Naomi’s sons married Moabite women. One was named Orpah and the other Ruth. About ten years later, Mahlon and Chilion also died. Now Naomi had no husband or sons.

6-7 When Naomi heard that the Lord had given his people a good harvest, she and her two daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab and go to Judah. As they were on their way there, Naomi said to them, “Don’t you want to go back home to your own mothers? You were kind to my husband and sons, and you have always been kind to me. I pray that the Lord will be just as kind to you. May he give each of you another husband and a home of your own.”

Naomi kissed them. They cried 10 and said, “We want to go with you and live among your people.”

11 But she replied, “My daughters, why don’t you return home? What good will it do you to go with me? Do you think I could have more sons for you to marry? 12 You must go back home, because I am too old to marry again. Even if I got married tonight and later had more sons, 13 would you wait for them to become old enough to marry? No, my daughters! Life is harder for me than it is for you, because the Lord has turned against me.”

14 They cried again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth held on to her. 15 Naomi then said to Ruth, “Look, your sister-in-law is going back to her people and to her gods! Why don’t you go with her?”

16 Ruth answered,

“Please don’t tell me
to leave you
and return home!
I will go where you go,
I will live where you live;
your people will be my people,
your God will be my God.
17 I will die where you die
and be buried beside you.
May the Lord punish me
if we are ever separated,
even by death!

18 When Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her, she stopped urging her to go back.

And so Naomi decided to do the only thing she can see, to leave Moab and return to her birth place in Bethlehem.  Orpah and Ruth prepare to go with her, but Naomi does not want to tear them away from their own mothers and family.  Orpah decides, reluctantly, to stay. Ruth will not be swayed, and goes with Naomi.

There seems to be no condemnation of Orpah for staying.  It was her choice, Naomi felt she had no right to drag her away.  Of course, we are reading this with hindsight, we know the end of the story, and what happened because Ruth went with Naomi, but she couldn’t have known that at the time.  What we have is her beautiful song of commitment.  Ruth promises to go with her, not just back to Bethlehem, but wherever she goes.  She vows to take on Naomi’s life, her people and her God.  She is throwing in her lot.  What a commitment.

I’ve seen two different analogies of this:

  • I’ve heard it used at weddings, where a man and a woman promise to follow each other faithfully, to make their lives and aims as one
  • and I’ve heard it used as an illustration of our commitment to God.  I’m going to go where you are, where you call me, and make your place mine, your people mine.

But I think there is also a third way.  A commitment to those we journey with – in faith and in life.  Yes I’m willing to journey with you to where you’re going, to love the people here, to be a part of this life.

Yesterday, we spent some time as our church considering our “mission statement“.  When you spend some time thinking about your purpose and objectives, I guess the next question is,

Am I in?

Do I agree with this?  Am I throwing my lot in with it?

The same is true with any community we join.  Am I in it for the long haul?  Am I here whole-heartedly?

As I reflect on these verses from Ruth, it brings to mind the question of who and what I commit to – and how:

  • Am I with you?
  • Are my objectives yours?
  • Will I walk alongside you?
  • Will I love those you love?
  • and how will I follow God here?

Those are questions that apply in most realms of life.

~ in the communities we live in

~ in the activities we join

~ in our friendships

~ in our churches

~ in our relationship with God

How will you answer?

16 Ruth answered,

“Please don’t tell me
to leave you
and return home!
I will go where you go,
I will live where you live;
your people will be my people,
your God will be my God.

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Doing What You’re Asked

The story of Esther can be a controversial one.  There are those who see Esther as selling out as a woman, using her feminine wiles to get what she wanted, letting herself be used and manipulated by the men around her.  I wrote more about this in a digidisciple post over on BigBible.

But whatever you think of the character of Esther, it cannot be denied that she achieved what was required – safety and freedom for her people.

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10

Haman Is Punished

7 The king and Haman were dining with Esther and drinking wine during the second dinner, when the king again said, “Esther, what can I do for you? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom!”

Esther answered, “Your Majesty, if you really care for me and are willing to help, you can save me and my people. That’s what I really want, because a reward has been promised to anyone who kills my people. Your Majesty, if we were merely going to be sold as slaves, I would not have bothered you.”

“Who would dare to do such a thing?” the king asked.

Esther replied, “That evil Haman is the one out to get us!”

Haman was terrified, as he looked at the king and the queen.

The king was so angry that he got up, left his wine, and went out into the palace garden.

Haman realized that the king had already decided what to do with him, and he stayed and begged Esther to save his life.

Just as the king came back into the room, Haman got down on his knees beside Esther, who was lying on the couch. The king shouted, “Now you’re even trying to rape my queen here in my own palace!”

As soon as the king said this, his servants covered Haman’s head. Then Harbona, one of the king’s personal servants, said, “Your Majesty, Haman built a tower seventy-five feet high beside his house, so he could hang Mordecai on it. And Mordecai is the very one who spoke up and saved your life.”

“Hang Haman from his own tower!” the king commanded. 10 Right away, Haman was hanged on the tower he had built to hang Mordecai, and the king calmed down.

Esther 9:20-22

The Festival of Purim

20 Mordecai wrote down everything that had happened. Then he sent letters to the Jews everywhere in the provinces 21 and told them:

Each year you must celebrate on both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar, 22 the days when we Jews defeated our enemies. Remember this month as a time when our sorrow was turned to joy, and celebration took the place of crying. Celebrate by having parties and by giving to the poor and by sharing gifts of food with each other.

The king, along with many others it seems in the bible, is very free with his promises and giving away his wealth.  But it is not riches or safety that Esther is looking for, but safety and freedom.  She is offered personal enrichment, but is not interested.  She wants the best for her entire community.

Mordecai was the one who had found out the information about what Haman was planning, but it was Esther, because of her place and the respect she had earned, that was able to let the King deal with it, and so save the whole Jewish people.

Sometimes God asks us to do the strangest things.  Things that we cannot see how we could possibly be any use for him.  But use us he does, if we are willing.

How does Esther and what she was able to do challenge us?

Do we want to work along with God?  Do we rail against it?  Do we think we know best?  Are we listening and waiting for God?  Are we worried about our sensibilities?  Or ready to do what is needed to serve our community?

Lord,

sometimes I think that I know best,

I object to what you ask me to do,

because it doesn’t sit well with me.

Forgive me those times I fail you

because my opinions get in the way.

Help me to hear your call,

to trust you,

and obey you

– that you may work in and through me

I’m With Him

Today is mine and Mr Pamsperambulation’s wedding anniversary.

All those years ago (26 to be precise – I know I’m not old enough!!), when we made our promises to each other, we declared that we were giving ourselves to each other – and therefore no longer free to give ourselves to anyone else.

Marriage is an exclusive relationship.  You cannot give yourself wholeheartedly to one person if you still really want to give another part of you to someone else.  When you make the commitment, you make a choice.

And so it is with life.  You can’t concentrate on one thing if you are still yearning for something else.

Paul speaks of this in terms of faith, and living by God’s rules:

Don’t you know that you are slaves of anyone you obey? You can be slaves of sin and die, or you can be obedient slaves of God and be acceptable to him.  Romans 6:16

If we give ourselves to God, we can’t also be giving ourselves to sin and living the way God doesn’t like.  We are either with God, or not, and our lives should reflect that.  When we choose to live for God, we can be free from sin, we no longer need to be looking for another way – we are with God!

Lord

day by day

in my life

help me to choose you

and your ways.

I have made my choice,

may I no longer flirt with other options.

May my heart,

my life,

my all

be given to you

and lived in you.