Many will agree that when a woman really falls in love with a man, she does so almost irreversibly such that she does everything possible to be in her man’s heart always. Her affection is ravishingly sweet. She becomes lovesick without him. She will not give up easily even when that man strays a bit or much. Or forever. The story of that young lady, probably in her twenties at the time of her husband’s death was one that appears to many to have follow this pattern. Infact, she earned a surname among the Yorubas who in comparison to the love-you-to-death fiction between Romeo and Juliet called her Abokoku.
But Ruth didn’t die with her man. She and Orpah (both in-laws) became widows to two blood brothers who came from a far country in search of greener pastures comparable in a way to today’s trans-sahara or transatlantic migrations. Unlike the great Shakespearean story which ended in death, I suppose that the undying love story of Ruth started after death. There is more than it appears to the eyes. There is an intriguing depth to her husband and his people that she would have to unravel. Like a giant iceberg that has only a tip to announce itself amidst a frigid cold ocean. She had only seen a bit of the love and affection like never before. An experience far different from what she and young maids like her are familiar with among men of her clan. Chillion’s demise came as a shocking and abrupt end to a relationship that dwarfs all others. But there is life lurking somewhere after his death.
Now, she wouldn’t settle for less any longer. There must be a repertory of this kind of love somewhere. Maybe its just inborn in them. She loves their love and she wants more or she dies. She would journey into the land of his dead husband, following any lead or faintest flicker of light possible. She will not rest nor sleep until she her feet step on the earth of that foreign land as a stranger. Such was the desperation that her mother could not dissuade neither could her authoritative father stop her from traveling to an uncertain land. To an uncertain future.
The young ladies gathered around to have her taste of the sweetness she would be missing; their men, festivals, traditions, education, business, wealth, but all tasted rather bland to her now. Oh that love. That sweet drawing she can’t resist. And won’t resist. Even if she was rejected. Or slain. Her mother in-law in whom she has seen a life that far outweighs anything she has ever seen before, would be her lead. Naomi. Who not seeing the bigger picture and the weight of God’s glory she carries, thought there was nothing more and thus rejected her daughters-in-law, successfully dissuading Orpah.
But the death would lead to life. Ruth persisted like a dying victim gasping for breath. She gravitated towards that lighthouse without minding emotional ties, habits, myths and legendaries, old-wives’ tales, vain philosophies and arguments. Give me or slay me. “Your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God” She said. Ruth wanted more than a new husband. She desires a new life, one that she has seen as a sign afar off. She desired God. She heard it as from the mouth of a town-crier who announced the presence of a great ship at the harbour which would rescue all villagers from an imminent flood. Nothing would prevent her from getting out of here. She wants to become a part of the people of God. People of Grace. Naomi, her husband and her sons were the happy feet that brought the awareness of a new life to this foreigner, much like the feet of a preacher.
Ruth came to the land she heartily longed for. She wasn’t disappointed. Her uncertainty became certain. It was real. She found grace. And so much more. Her soul found rest and was satisfied. She was welcome gracefully into the family of God. Old things have passed away. She had lost love and many things but after all, has now found the greatest love ever known. She would belong in the lineage of Christ. The lineage of grace. That lineage of Abokoku who belong to the living God by faith in Jesus. Like Ruth, many have perceived (though unclear at the time) or heard of the reality of salvation in Jesus Christ thru that close friend, the web, media, or from a pulpit. You have heard. So innumerable crowd have moved in response yet a few beloved folks have turned back today because they were discouraged by the humanness of some leaders or mentors (like Naomi) who have said certain things or acted in certain ways that did poisoned there soul. They went back to themselves. Their gods. To them I say, Come back.
Jesus Christ is the captain of that ship of grace that saves and He sends his men out to YOU and me wherever we are and from whatever nativity, religion, tribe, race or country. Whatever the past deeds or character. To the young and old. Male and female. Rich and poor. He beckons that we may gather to him to take us into that land, a new city, the heavenly Jerusalem where God is king over the heavenly family: the church, the wonderfully adorned bride of Christ. Would you die to all and live with and in Christ? Would you leave all behind and follow this lively call?
With my own hands.