Traveling Toward the Unknown
But Ruth said, ‘Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me GOD — not even death itself is going to come between us!’” Ruth 1:16-17 (MSG)
When I think of major transitions in my life, I think of road trips that involve a big yellow moving truck and a sense of home fading in the rearview mirror.
Nearly a decade ago, I moved away from my hometown after marrying my high school sweetheart, to begin his career in the military.
He was being stationed in Yuma, Ariz.
Do you know where that is?
Yeah, I didn’t either. (And if you do, good for you!)
I soon learned it was a town on the Mexican border known for its oppressive heat, Cracker Barrel location and historical prison preserved from the Wild West.
A newlywed’s dream, right?
Leaving home was a hard choice. In fact, when we stopped at a gas station, I spent a moment on the curb crying and whispering to my new husband, “I don’t think I can go on. Maybe this is a terrible idea.”
And I think that’s often what big transitions feel like: an enormous, sacrificial choice; an act of faith that begs of God, “You won’t abandon me, right?”
Change involves movement — old to new, known to unknown, native to foreign. It always requires a road trip of sorts.
We see this theme in the book of Ruth. It opens with Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, leaving their hometown to settle in Moab. A few verses later, after Naomi’s husband and sons die, she moves again, but this time with her daughters-in-law.
Somewhere on that road trip back to Bethlehem, Naomi encourages Ruth and Orpah to turn back. She gives them an easy out, essentially saying, “You don’t have to do the hard thing here. You can go home.”
Stunningly, Ruth chooses sacrifice. She tells Naomi, “Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live” (Ruth 1:16b).
Ruth didn’t just choose Naomi, she chose the God of Israel (“your God is my god”). The same is true for all of us in the midst of hard decisions. We aren’t just choosing the destination; we are choosing to believe in the trustworthy nature of God. We are binding ourselves to His provision.
Like Ruth, we’re often compelled to go somewhere new without knowing what waits on the other side. Rarely do we have a divine explanation as to how this moment will work out when we travel toward the unknown. Still, we walk toward the promise that God is good, even when the circumstances are unclear.
Oftentimes, God draws people to Himself by drawing them out of their comfort zones first. When we’re estranged from comfort, we gain clarity on His redemptive work in our lives. Our faith grows roots when we lack tangible stability.
The book of Ruth concludes with a testimony to how even the most painful transitions can be redeemed for good. Ruth opens with famine and death but ends with fulfillment — Boaz marrying Ruth and Ruth giving birth to Obed.
But the redemptive story doesn’t end there. From Ruth and Boaz’ union and lineage came David. And through David came the Savior of the world.
If you’re making a hard choice or facing a tough transition today, be encouraged. Ruth’s story serves as evidence that even the most painful interruptions can double as God’s provision, that God is present and active in our midst and that no road trip can ever lead us to a place where God hasn’t already arrived.
Thank You, Lord, for the way You’ve guided my life, though at times it’s been hard to see the providence for all the plot twists. Help me to trust You, regardless of where the story takes me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What part of God’s character am I struggling to believe in the midst of my circumstances? Which parts of Ruth’s story can remind me of the reliable nature of God?