Naomi's life was in a state of transition in Ruth 1.
With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.
'Set out' is the word YASA in Hebrew, which means to exit or depart, but can also mean to deliver or to cause to come out. Naomi was not just moving locations, her decision to return to Judah was ending a 10-year season of grief and sorrow. Rabbinic scholars say that her husband chose to leave Judah at the first signs of famine because he did not want to be in position to have to share any of his great wealth with those in their time need. That one decision sentenced his entire family to sickness, extinction and poverty.
What was lost through a decision can also be redeemed through a decision.
But what was lost through a decision can also be redeemed through a decision. Naomi decided to return to the land of her fathers, the land of Isreal.
Along the way, Naomi presents her daughters and law with a choice.
But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.
"Go back" are the Hebrew words YALAK and SUB, meaning to walk and to turn back, respectively. YALAK can mean physical walking, and also the way in which you walk (i.e. walking uprightly vs. walking in deciet). Euphamistically it could mean to say go back to the old way in which you used to walk.
Naomi was the introduction to the God of Isreal in their lives. Returning to their mother's home would be a return to the gods of their mother's house as well. In a way, Naomi was saying "Yes I've been a spiritual mother to you. But that which bound and obliged you to me is now gone. Return back to walking in the ways of your mother's home and serving her gods. You are released with my blessings."
My Pastor, Dr. Michelle Corrall, taught that there is a specific training technique the Holy Spirit uses for those destined for promotion. When they need to keep going, they are urged to stop. There are things placed in their path to test their commitment and strengthen their resolve. It is why Elijah told Elisha to stay here while he went onwards three times on the very day they both knew he would ascend into heaven with chariots of fire. Had Elisha dwelt in one place, he would have missed out on his inheritance.
The way to pass the test is to continue precisely when you are most pressed and tempted to quit.
Each of us have very profound and rich treasures within our hearts and souls. Challenge elicits that drive and ambition and determination to overcome. And therefore it elicits the deepest resources within us...
It's the idea that a challenge brought out a strength that could never have been brought out beforehand. Let's use the example of a rope that rips, so it's weak. What do you do when you want to reinforce a rope that rips? You make sure to make so many reinforcements so it's stronger than before so it will never be able to rip again. A challenge brings out deeper strengths. Its what happens when any of us redeem a mistake we made. Mistakes are painful. But imagine a mistake you learn from. Next time around you put in preventive measures so it never happens again. When you do that, you are far stronger.
Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Meaningful Life Center
How do we do this?
Allow the resistance and obstacles that come against our firm decisions for God, and for change, to work for us. We can begin to see them as resistance training being used to strengthen our resolve, and elicit a deeper drive from within.
Much like a tree's roots grow deeper as result of the wind and the waters of a storm, so do our hearts grow deeper roots into the ways of God when we stand firm when facing so many reasons and opportunities to quit, to go back, to throw in the towel.
Ruth had no idea the level of reward that would come her way for her loyalty, for her persistence. But she was indeed rewarded by the hand of God.