Summary: Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth – three women standing at a cross roads in life. One will find restoration, one will write herself out of God’s story, and one will journey down the road less travelled. Which road will you choose?
The Road Less Travelled - Ruth 1:3-18 - January 27, 2013
Series: From Heartache to Hope - The Redemption of Ruth - #2
Quite a number of years ago now, an author by the name of Robert Frost, penned a poem entitled, “The Road Not Taken.” It’s a poem that tells the story of a man, who, upon walking through the woods, comes to a fork in the road. It is a place of decision; a place of no return – a choice must be made for he cannot journey down both paths. Whichever road he chooses will lead him to new pathways, and new choices, and he will never stand again where he stands this day.
And life is like that, isn’t it? So often we come to a fork in the road, a place where we must choose one path over another, knowing full well that whatever choices we make, will have repercussions, good or bad, or some of both, that spill over into the rest of our lives. What school to go to? Which career to pursue? Whom shall we marry? And on and on it goes. And all we know for certain is, that having made that choice, having begun that journey, that from that moment on, certain doors will be forever shut, while others will open in their place.
The man in the poem knows this truth full well. So finally, making up his mind, he begins his journey down the road that fewer feet have trod upon. And he sums up his decision with these words in the concluding verses of the poem, saying: “I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: / Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - / I took the one less travelled by, / And that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken)
It has made all the difference indeed! And in our Scripture passage this morning we are going to see how the road less travelled by, is the road that Ruth journeys down, and how it is going to make all the difference in her life as well. So I invite you to open your Bibles with me this morning to the book of Ruth. Ruth chapter 1 and we’ll begin reading in verse 3. And as you’re turning there, let me remind you of what we discovered last week.
The book of Ruth begins during a time of hardship and spiritual apostasy amongst the people of Israel. There has been a turning away from the Lord and everyone does what seems right in his own eyes. In that sense it is very similar to what we see in our own day. There is little regard for God’s word and a pervasive sense that we as people, know better than God, which results in each one doing what they see fit, rather than doing that which is in keeping with God’s own heart.
In the opening verses of this book we meet a man, named Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon, and Kilion. They live in Bethlehem in Judah. Bethlehem translates as “House of Bread,” and Judah as “Praise.” But there is a famine in the land. A famine both of godliness and of food. As there has been no praise in the House of Bread, there is now no bread in the place of praise. So Elimelech, uproots his family, and travels to the land of Moab. In effect, he has turned his back on God and has gone to live in the land of God’s enemies. In his time of need, he whose name means, “My God is king,” runs to the world, rather than to God, to find deliverance. And again this is so often what we see in our own day as well – people running after the things of this world in their time of need, rather than turning to God and seeking Him in faith. And when we do that we discover, that which Elimelech, to his great sorrow and despair discovered as well: that we will not find that which we seek by running away from God. It is a path that ultimately leads to heartache and sorrow.
Scripture says that Elimelech went to live in the land of Moab for just “awhile.” But the truth is that Elimelech never came home. He died in the land of God’s enemies as did his two sons. They had fled the House of Bread in the place of Praise, to seek after that which the world had to offer them – but instead of finding what they longed for, in its place they found misery and grief. It is a heart wrenching story, but for that very reason it is a powerful warning to us, of what is likely to happen when we run from God, and seek satisfaction and life and deliverance in the things of this world, rather than in God Himself.