In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. —Ruth 1:1-5
Ruth is such a short book in the Bible, easily overlooked if you are not careful. I read Ruth as one of the first books of the bible because it was brief. The days when I was first tiptoeing into the waters of Christianity and exploring what reading a bible was like I purposely picked a few of those first shorter books. But Ruth, she drew me in. Her story was so easy to connect with, I felt her plight of traveling to a new land and having to work hard just to put some food on the table.
I actually make it a point to try and study or read through Ruth at least once a year, sometimes twice. I have completed the book a few times and just like every other book within the Bible it always breathes new inspiration into me when I reread it. I catch something new unique, that speaks to me in the season I am currently tangled up in. The last time I studied Ruth it was in the fall with Bianca on Right Now Media. I enjoyed her breaking down the story and bringing Ruth current.
This week I began reading through Ruth again, and this time I got a new message as I studied it. I looked more closely at Naomi. I felt God telling me to look at this woman, this wife who followed her husband into a land that was known for being corrupt. She likely knew this was a mistake, but she followed him and stayed with him raising their two sons there. And those sons, they both married Moabite women, women who did not believe in God. How much self-control it must have took for that mother to let her sons make those mistakes, and be submissive.
Submission, that ugly word that has gotten such a negative reputation among some women. In my heart of hearts I dread it, I like to be in control and I do not like to have anyone control me. I have noticed because of things in my past that when I even catch a hint of something controlling I put my guard up and back away. It causes conflict, it causes strife. Lately I hear God reminding me that submission, the kind he desires is not one that puts me in danger. It is not the submission to a person trying to overpower me and hurt me, it is the submission to His will which is far better for me than my own self-destructive behaviors.
When I read this beginning of Ruth again this week, I felt myself thinking about the pain of Naomi, how she must have been heartbroken to move, and again to have her sons succumb to the godless nation they were living in. And I thought about my own life and where I was currently, and how I am not facing nearly those kinds of challenges. I thought about how my attitude toward simple things needs to change and how no matter what mistakes I feel others are making it is not my duty to go against them. Sometimes offering grace and stepping back is what God requires. Other times he requires grace and for us to stand beside those making the mistakes and to just be ready to catch them after the fall.