It’s scary to leave behind what you know and step out into something new God may be calling you to. I spent twenty-two years in Christian education. It’s what I was trained to do. It’s what I love to do. It’s what I know.
When God called me out of the classroom, I had to leave behind the comfort of the familiar for the uncertainty of the unknown. There was some excitement, of course, but the fear and anxiety of stepping out into something foreign still keep me awake some nights.
At the Crossroads of Comfort and Uncertainty
Have you ever been at that crossroads of decision, where you had to make a choice between something comfortable and familiar and a new venture that seemed scary and uncertain? Perhaps you are there now.
Another woman once stood at that junction. Ruth was a Moabite woman married to a Hebrew man whose family had fled Judah during a famine. The Moabites worshiped pagan gods, but Ruth was introduced through her husband’s family to the God of the Jews–the One True God.
When her husband died, as well as his brother and father, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to return to Bethlehem, where she heard the famine was over. She and her two daughters-in-law “set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah” (Ruth 1:7b, NIV 84).
But then they came to a crossroads. Naomi thought about the future prospects of these two women. She had grown to love them, and they were all she had left of her family. Yet she realized that as Moabite women they stood little chance of future marriage in Judah.
It wasn’t against the Law for an Israelite to marry a Moabite, but no Moabite could “enter the assembly of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 23:3). I’m sure Naomi was thinking that no one would marry them, and as widows with no male heirs, they would all be doomed to a life of poverty.
So, Naomi urged the girls to go back to their home, where they would at least have their own families, security, and the prospect of future marriage–a more comfortable life. Ruth, however, would not go back.
“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.'”Ruth 1:16
Ruth chose to follow God.
I so love this account of Ruth’s devotion, because she clearly was intent not only to follow Naomi into a foreign land, but to follow the God of her husband and his family.
Choosing to follow the call of God into the unknown is risky and uncertain. We may fear financial loss, rejection, and failure. The choice to follow God may even seem unreasonable to others.
For Ruth, a Moabitess, to live in Judah among the Israelites probably seemed ridiculous to her own family. But Ruth was following the call of God on her life.
God honored her devotion and obedience.
As my friend Michelle says, “She ended up with barley, Boaz, and a baby!” You see, because of Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi and Naomi’s God, she was rewarded with blessings at every turn.
When they arrived in Judah, she went out to glean the barley fields so that she and Naomi would have food to eat. God was faithful to lead her to the right field. This story comes during the time of the Judges, a period of moral decline when everyone did what was right in his own eyes. To end up at the wrong field could have been dangerous.
But God sent Ruth to the fields of a man named Boaz, who was kind and generous and followed the Law which commanded farmers to leave behind some of their harvest for the poor to glean (Leviticus 19:9-10). Not only that, but he made provision for her to glean in abundance (Ruth 2:15-16).
In God’s providence, Boaz was related to Naomi’s husband, which meant that as a kinsman redeemer, he had the opportunity to marry Ruth, thereby redeeming the land and providing security, protection, and an heir to carry on the name (Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Leviticus 25:25-28).
Out of Ruth’s marriage to Boaz came a baby. The devastation of loss in their family was redeemed through an heir, not just to keep the family line intact, but also to be the one through whom the Messiah would eventually come (Matthew 1:5).
Barley, Boaz, and a baby–the provision, protection, and promise of God–all the result of Ruth’s faith and devotion.
What about us? When faced with the uncertain and uncomfortable call of God on our lives, will we choose the right path that leads to God’s blessings? Will we trust Him for provision, protection, and promise?
God blesses our obedience.
The path may be difficult, fearful, and not without risk; but the blessings of obedience far exceed the consequences of not following God. And the good news is that as long as we stay with God, He will take care of us.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. “Deuteronomy 31:8
These words spoken to Joshua still hold true for us today. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and choose that path you know God is calling you to, even if the thought makes you break out in a sweat. 🙂
And if you’re standing at the crossroads unsure which way to go, fast, pray, and give it to God. He knows your heart, and if you are willing to obey whatever He calls you to do, He will show you the way to go.
“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”Matthew 26:39b
Through prayer, obedience, and faith, you will know if you are headed in the wrong direction, and God will honor your faithfulness and get you back on track.
Following God is not for the faint-hearted; but nothing compares with the peace, joy, and adventure of being on mission with the King!