[box] Read chapter 10 in Journeys of Faithfulness.[/box] This week's chapter as we start our section on Ruth brought back a flood of memories for me. It was 1989, and I was a young pre-med college student, entering my senior year. I had just returned from my very first overseas missions trip and my life had been turned upside down. I was able to witness God work in an amazing way before my very eyes, as I watched Him reach the hearts of my dear students and change the course of not only their eternal destiny, but mine as well.
I had been a Christian since I was in junior high and was very good at knowing all the right answers. I served in our youth group's leadership team. I was a small group leader in our campus fellowship. But it wasn't until after that summer when I made my first real declaration of faith. Even though I knew it would cost me to change my direction from medicine to ministry, I knew that God was calling me to follow Him into the great unknown. Would I follow Him?
I knew I could play it safe and continue on with Plan A. But would I really be safe? There was no telling what might happen if I stuck with my original plans. But if I didn't follow Him, I would forever wonder what would have happened. And as Aslan says to Lucy in Prince Caspian, we are never told what would have happened if we pass up an invitation like that.
Since that time, God has done more in my life than I could have imagined. That first decision to follow Him has led me to places that I would never have imagined: campus ministry, homeschooling, and now, adoption. There were times when I wondered if God really knew where He was taking me. Sometimes I even fight against Him. (Well, I try.) I rant and rave, cry and complain, pout, whine and rebel.
But He always waits patiently for me until I wear myself out and realize anew that I am at another crossroads. I can keep fighting Him or I can again choose to follow. And I am sure that choosing His way over my own will continue to the end of my days.
This is especially true when life is painful and difficult, as it was for Ruth. She had lost her husband and had to decide whether she was going to follow Naomi's suggestion to go back home to all that was familiar and safe, to remarry one of the local boys, to start a family of her own.
But instead of going the safe way, she made a choice to leave all that she had known to follow a grieving widow into a foreign land and into a culture that would most likely scorn and abuse her. And yet, it was because she made this hard choice that her destiny and future changed.
It was this choice that led her to boldly declare to Naomi, “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. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17, ESV) Them's serious words. In Ruth's case, it was not a wedding promise but a declaration, not only Naomi, but to God Himself.
“No woman who says she will love and follow God can do so secondhand, by casual acceptance of the faith of family or friends. You cannot love God with half yourself and expect Him to inhabit every moment of your life with holiness and miracle. If you want to be a true follower of God, to blaze with His light in the darkness of your time, then at some point, you will have to answer His call. The moment of choice will come when the hosts of heaven lean down to hear your response.” (p. 190)
While not all of us are going to be asked to leave our homeland, we will all have those crossroad moments in our story. Will I follow Him on the narrow way even if no one else comes with me? These moments often define our faith and take it from a ho-hum existence to an exciting adventure.
Ruth did not know what awaited her in Bethlehem. Likewise, we often don't know what will happen if we follow Him. I know I certainly didn't know. He usually doesn't give us the whole picture, but He does give us enough to make a solid decision.
This is especially so if you are in a painful juncture in your own journey. Even in these moments we have a choice. It is a choice to trust and believe that He will carry you through and that as you continue to love Him and trust Him, He will do above and beyond what we can ask or imagine. (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 3:20)
Make a timeline of your faith journey. Consider the points in your life where you had to make a choice to trust and follow God. What did you choose? How did it impact your spiritual life?
Where do you stand with God today? Is He inviting you to make a choice? What are you going to do? If possible, find a way to declare your allegiance verbally to another.