Entreat me not to leave you...for where you go I will go.
The story of Ruth, the young Moabite widow who leaves her own home and kindred to follow her widowed mother-in-law back to Judah, is a classic tale of a journey made in faith to an unknown land, a selfless decision to become a stranger in a strange land.
Ruth has always been a romantic figure among the great women of the Bible, making her dramatic renunciation and pledging her fidelity to Naomi. The English poet Keats, in his sumptuous Eve of Saint Agnes, pictures Ruth “sick for home,” standing “in tears amid the alien corn.”
Undeniably, Ruth is an appealing image of the homesick pilgrim. But it occurs to me that she could also be the emblem of a faithful disciple.
Scripture brims with promises of God's presence with us—presence which tells us all we need to know of who we are, and who God is, and what sustains us in our darkness.
But I wonder sometimes: how present are we to God?
I attended a retreat once where the leader (a retired army officer) treated prayer as a brisk quasi-military discipline: “Show up,” he advised us. “Pay attention. Tell the truth.” The “showing up” is often the hardest part for us: Presenting our most authentic selves to God in prayer is difficult, especially if we have been in the habit, conscious or not, of hiding our deepest nature from God—or from ourselves.
In our struggle to “show up,” to be genuinely alive to God, to remain in the presence of God who is always present to us, Ruth's example may be helpful. We often entreat God not to leave us, but it might be of more real use to us if we begged him to help us not leave him.
God of all our journeys, entreat us not to leave you. Where you go may we be strong to follow, that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways always.
Copyright ©2005 Deborah Smith Douglas.