Summary: As Ruth stepped out of her comfort zone in obedience to God, we are also called to do just the same.
I hope you enjoyed this comical look at living in the comfort zone. Today we will be looking at how one amazing woman of God did just the opposite – she stepped outside of her comfort zone to trust and obey God no matter where His path led.
If you have your Bible please turn to the book of Ruth. You can find this powerful story sandwiched between the book of Judges and 1st Samuel in the Old Testament.
You know this has been a tough summer on our church family. Within a few weeks time, not one but two pastors have moved on and we are about to embark on a journey in building a vision for the future of this church, which for us contains uncharted waters and some unknowns. As humans it is natural that we do not like change because we like to be in control. We like to know what is coming next. We have that same prideful inclination as Adam and Eve did… to be like God because we know that, unlike us, He is ultimately in control of everything, because He is the Creator. He holds the reigns to our lives and He has never let go!
When life becomes unsteady, when our boat is “rocked” a bit, we want that solid ground where we have more control over our own footing and a place we can know with somewhat certainty that the next step we take won’t swallow us alive. It is at these times when we need courage and boldness to do what is right, to trust and obey the God who tells us “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”, and to step into the unknown knowing that God knows.
For Ruth, this was the clearest choice. When all seemed to be lost, the only solution to her was to trust and obey. Chapter one, verse 16 has Ruth exclaiming to her mother-in-law: “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” To summarize chapter one up to this point, we have Ruth, a Moabite woman, who married a Hebrew man by the name of Mahon who was living in Moab. His family came to live there when Israel had begun to experience a famine. Sometime after his family had relocated, his father, Elimelech, died leaving Mahlon’s mother, Naomi, his brother Chilion and himself. The men then married Moabite women – Ruth and Orpah, but before they could have children, the two brothers died. So now we have three women, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, in the middle of Moab. Naomi had heard that the famine in Israel was over so she decided to return to her native Bethlehem. She told Ruth and Orpah to return to their families, but Ruth insisted on accompanying Naomi to Bethlehem.
Now it would have been safer and easier for Ruth to have stayed among her own people and find a husband who could give her children than to go with Naomi, her mother-in-law to a foreign land. First of all, the journey itself was dangerous. Secondly she was going to a place where it would be custom for a Moabite woman to be shunned and given the lowest status – even lower than a slave. By claiming Naomi’s faith as her own and by following her back to Bethlehem, she was going into the unknown and we see the first character trait of a person of obedience – It is a person who is a risk-taker fully devoted to God.
In the old testament we see another man of faith who is the model risk-taker. Turn with me to Hebrews 11:8. You are familiar with this chapter – it is the hall of faith. This chapter pours out for us role models to encourage us in our faith and one of those role models for risk-taking is Father Abraham. Take a look at verse 8: “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise.” Do you realize what kind of risks Abraham took as he acted on his faith in God? He had a secure future. He risked leaving friends and family (forever!), he risked financial loss (the loss of his inheritance), he risked highway robbery (it was a frequent even of those days), he risked bad health, he risked food and water shortages for himself and his livestock – he risked it all! And God blessed him through making his name famous by creating a whole nation out of his descendents.