As I sat after the Easter holidays pondering on who the true believer of Jehovah is, it led me to asking, ‘as a believer, can who you are, and how you treat people make them change their ways, become a born again without preaching to them?’
The Ruth I am going to talk about in this post got converted not because someone preached salvation to her but because of the love Naomi, her mother-in-law showed her. Besides, the Ruth in this post is an aphorism that could be of any gender. So, do not send you mind on parade.
I found that many of us read scriptures but hardly apply the principles therein. I wish all citizens who profess to be ardent worshippers of the Almighty God could meditate enough; the choices that lead us into temptation, strife, battles, and wars would be significantly reduced. I also wished I had given deep thoughts to them myself; perhaps some actions taken would have been different.
As we sojourn through life, we shall meet different people with different reasons to come to us as friends, acquaintances, mentors, or coaches. At times, the defining moment in our lives could be determined by sheer providence, carelessness, adversities, or our choices in our everyday encounters with people.
Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, left Bethlehem, Judah, because of famine. They sought greener pastures and found one in Moab’s region. In Moab, the two sons of Elimelech met their heartthrobs, Ruth and Orpah. Seemingly, though the families lived happily and were not hungry, they were torn apart by the strings of deaths that visited the family. Elimelech and the two sons died, leaving behind three widows in Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
At this time, Judah had been restored to abundance. With no male in their midst to act as a breadwinner, I am sure Naomi thought they could all die from the famine they ran away from in Bethlehem and such; it was time to return home.
She called Ruth and Orpah and announced her intentions to return to Bethlehem. She also told them to return to their mothers, to which they initially agreed with many hurt and emotions. Orpah later changed her mind and went back to her people.
For Orpah, she took the first line of action most myopic people would consider appropriate by going back to her parent’s home instead of clinging to a widowed mother-in-law, who was of no more use to her. Her relationship with Naomi seemed transactional. Isn’t that how many people connect with us?
Orpah represents those that cannot stick with friends when what binds them together disappear. Have you noticed that when people lose their means of livelihood and positions, they also lose most of those hang-around they wined and dined together?
However, it was a different ball game for Ruth. She clung to the mother-in-law and refused to let go. In contrast to Orpah’s action, she said, ‘do not stop me from going with you; I will go wherever you go, live wherever you live, your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God (Ruth 1: 16). Even though Ruth was of a pagan parentage, going through pain and hurt, she became a convert and relinquished her religion to become a worshipper of the God of Naomi by her confession and statement. She could not have done this if the mother-in-law was wicked to her.
Ruth had a rich conscience of care, service, and support. She was willing to give back to Naomi the love she had shown her as a daughter. She was not into just a social or transactional relationship to get, but a relationship based on the law of reciprocity. She was willing to swim or drown with Naomi. When they got back to Bethlehem, she worked hard to feed the mother-in-law and herself. Her hardwork paid off. She became wealthy and powerful. She also became a celebrity worthy of being mentioned in the holy scriptures.
In every circle, there are the Naomis, Orpahs, and Ruths. Please do not wait for adversities to identify your Naomi, the empathetic person and Ruth the care giver.
The time to prepare for war is in peacetime, and the time to shine your eyes to remove the Orpahs in your circle is now when you have control of your decision making faculties in tact. It is Time to identify the Ruth in your circle of influence and nurture that person for the unforeseen future. Letting off the Orpahs might be a difficult and tough decision to make. But it is better now to save yourself the agonies of being abandoned in later life.
As I wish my Muslim friends Happy Eid el-Fitr, I pray for you as I pray for myself, for the Lord to show us mercy and grant us insights to do good to others always.
Grace and peace!!!