But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” – Ruth 1:16 (ESV)
We considered the importance of the relationship between Ruth and Naomi on Day 6. Now, we’ll take another look at that relationship from the viewpoint of how it prepared Ruth to fulfill her calling.
The story of Ruth and Naomi is almost an early version of O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” True to Jewish tradition, Naomi pointed out to Ruth and Orpah that there would be no younger brothers to marry after their husbands’ deaths. Caring about them, she encouraged them to go back to their mothers’ homes so they would be available to marry again. Though unwilling at first, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and returned home. Ruth, on the other hand, utters what is, perhaps, one of the greatest sentiments recorded in the Bible, “Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.”
Ruth’s calling to care for Naomi truly was from God, though she may not have known it. She only knew that she loved Naomi because of the relationship Naomi nurtured with Ruth.
That’s often the way it is – if you simply do what you know is right, you may very well be fulfilling a far greater plan than you realize. This is especially true when you are meeting someone else’s needs at the expense of what might appear to be the best for you. In the end, both Ruth and Naomi benefitted from Ruth’s faithfulness to the relationship.
Applying this to Life
I struggle to keep a healthy work/life balance. I am often involved with several projects at once, and frequently, think I can juggle too many tasks at one time. This spills over into family time far too often!
I don’t want the kids to grow up, and for me to think, “I sure did provide finances for my family, but I didn’t provide me for my family.”
When I read the story of Naomi and Ruth, I read a story of devotion and one of sacrifice. Ruth could have taken a different path, but she chose to give up a lot, because she loved Naomi. I want to look back at my life and read the story as one of devotion and sacrifice. Not to earthly goals, but to heavenly ones. Not to career progression, but to spiritual life progression. Not to sacrifice to a business start-up, but a life of sacrifice for God’s Kingdom.
You might find yourself in a similar situation. How do you get out of the cycle of working too much? Start with a Sabbath.
This is an area I have failed in for far too long. I very infrequently take a sabbath. We did this past weekend, and it was difficult. I had things I needed to do. Deadlines to meet. People I don’t want to disappoint. My pastor was frank about it, “Jeremy, you don’t have to do that stuff. God releases you from that.”
I’m glad I did. I asked for this question to be added to the men’s accountability group, “Did you honor the Sabbath?”
Spend this Sunday in prayer and praise with your family. Set the phone aside. Turn off the laptop. Put down the iPad. One step toward a healthy work/life balance. You can do it! God releases you from the stress and work you have ahead of you next week.