But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to 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
Last weekend was Mother’s Day in America. My own mother passed away last year and left her family with many memories. But mothers aren’t the only ones who “mother” us, No? In our text for today, Ruth chooses to travel to a foreign country with only her mother-in-law, Naomi. We often hear these verses at weddings to celebrate the virtue of Ruth, pledging herself to someone completely.
But for today, maybe we could learn something from Naomi. Ruth was no genetic relation to Naomi. Ruth was a foreigner, someone Naomi would have been taught to despise. Naomi was under no obligation to allow Ruth to join her in her return to Israel. And, every day, Ruth would be a reminder of what she had lost in Moab – her husband, her sons, her hopes, her livelihood.
Naomi didn’t apply the normal rules of her society to Ruth. She didn’t treat Ruth like a foreigner, an enemy, or a stranger. Naomi treated Ruth like family. Naomi mothered her.
The rules are different for family than they are for others. We don’t make even trades with family; we give them generous gifts. We don’t make family keep their personal lives out of our relationship; we invite them to share their personal pain and chaos. We don’t allow family to separate from us; we pursue them for as long as it takes to be reunited.
The lovely lady on the top of this devotional is my own mother-in-law, Virginia. She has mastered the art of family making. She made me part of her family, despite my giving her repeated reasons to do otherwise. It’s not just me. She’s brought employees, friends, and even strangers into her family embrace. She gives generously, invests emotionally, and values them all highly. Just like Naomi.
The truth of course is that any of us can turn friends, acquaintances, and even strangers into family. The limit on how big our families become is not how many children we have, it is how much we are willing to love. If the duty of man is to take on the moral attributes of God, then this work is well laid out for us. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world…”
This week let’s follow the example of Naomi, and of Virginia, and of God, and take on the world as our family.