Anyone could make huge promises when it all seems rosy.
But when the chips are down, when the cost for the decision you’re about to make stands naked before you… you find out if your words had a backbone.
That’s what played out at this point in Ruth’s story.
A Vow Without A Cost
These two daughters-in-law chorused “surely we will return with thee unto the people.”
I guess at that time, they were simply carried on the wings of emotion – their love for Naomi.
Because the scene that followed next actually revealed if they made heartfelt commitments or wishy-washy promises.
Naomi, after looking at these young beautiful ladies felt, it’s time I tell them the blank truth about what lies ahead.
If they know, I bet they won’t be so enthusiastic to follow me.
And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;
13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.
A lot ran through their minds as she spoke.
Their vows to follow Naomi will soon be tested.
For Oprah, “yes I loved my mother-in-law. And I’ll love to return with her unto her people.” (Remember their statement in verse 10)
Her people. Probably because she felt she’ll get another loving husband like her deceased.
But Naomi says I may not have a chance of getting any man from her. No husband. Will I stay single all my life?
Getting married to a prince charming is the dream of almost every young lady.
Now Naomi tells these girls their dreams may never come true If they go with her to Bethlehem.
To Orpah, what a great price to pay!
Ruth’s mind was preoccupied with thoughts too.
No husband. Ok. But I have a bigger reason for following this older woman.
(We’ll discuss that in the next study.)
Decisions That Determine Destinies
At this moment, each had to take separate pathways… make different decisions that lead to different destinies.
And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
Oprah kissed her and turned back.
“I love you mama… and maybe your God and people too. But I love myself and my personal ambitions so much to follow you blindly. I’ve got to sort out a life for myself.
I want to get married, have children and have a home.
Anything wrong with that desire?
But there’s an underlying truth. Something similar to what most of us do.
Counting The Cost
Taking life into our own hands.
That’s exactly what Oprah did. She wasn’t ready to submit that life into God’s hands – for Him to do whatever pleases Him with it.
She wanted to make her decisions. To be sure life played out like she imagined and planned.
So she chose the pathway that seemed predictable. Going back to her people and getting married.
For you to have a fruitful life, you must be ready to recklessly abandon yourself in God’s hands.
Like, God, this is where You are leading… I’m willing to blindly follow You.
That’s the cost of following Jesus.
Sometime in the ministry of Jesus, the multitude, probably charmed by the wisdom from His lips and the signs and wonders He performed, turned and followed him.
Here is how Luke recorded it:
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Jesus called their attention to the need to count the cost before following him.
Are you willing to surrender all to Jesus? To allow Him take the lead. To do whatever He asks you to do no matter how ridiculous it looks.
And what if He’s asking you to take a step in a direction different from what you’ve planned or always known. A journey filled with uncertainties. Will you confidently place your hands in His and say, “anywhere with Jesus I can safely go.
What decisions are you making today?
Remember, your decisions determine your destiny.
Orpah made a decision to turn back. And that was the last we heard about her. She probably got married, had kids, and died. She had an opportunity to play a role in a remarkable story, a divine legacy, but she couldn’t pay the price for it.
Thank God for Ruth. She dared take that long, hard journey to Bethlehem. A Bethlehem that promised her nothing at the time.
Her decision to follow the true God opened eternal doors for her.
Just like Orpah and Ruth, the ball is in your court today.
Will you choose to walk away from God and go live the life you desire and designed for yourself?
Or will this Betty Scot Stam’s prayer be yours as well:
Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Your will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to You to be Yours forever. Fill me and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. Use me as You want, send me where You want, work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.
No one promises you’ll have an easy journey when you take this path of following God’s plan for your life. Chapter 1 wasn’t easy for Ruth.
But you know, when you’re on God’s side, the story won’t end at chapter 1. There’ll be chapters 2 and 3 and then 4. A time in your life when you look at yourself and wonder how you got here – because you now have exceeding, abundantly, above all you ask or think.