I remember watching The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy had just ran away from home in hopes of finding a better life somewhere over the rainbow. When her wildest dreams turned into her worst nightmare, all she wanted to do was click her heals and go home.
A story all too familiar for those who find themselves wandering, wanting, wanton or wounded.
Much like Dorothy, Naomi and her family ran away from home full of hopes and dreams. But with the death of her husband and both of her sons, Naomi’s dreams were dashed and her hopes were gone.
Widows had it hard in a land where they were considered to be of the lowest class beggars.
“Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 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.” Ruth 1:6-7
All it took was a word from home that God had shown up and blessed His people with food and all that dear woman wanted to do was to click her heals and go home.
Naomi, Ruth and Orpah began the 30 or so mile journey from Moab to Bethlehem, but somewhere along the way (the Bible doesn’t say), Naomi thought about those two young women. Why should they leave the familiar to enter a new land with a different culture and a different God?
She knew what that was like. She had done it herself. But as a widow who was considered too old to remarry and possibly too old to bear children, she knew Ruth and Orpah would be destined to a life of solitude.
Orpah finally relented and agreed to Naomi’s pleas that she return to her own people and her own land.
Ruth could not.
She was determined to stay with the woman who had lost everything. She knew what that felt like and they were in this thing together.
And so they began to make the 7-10 day journey from the plains of Moab to the town of Bethlehem. It was only a little over 30 miles. It seemed so close but the dry, dusty and treacherous terrain seemed to mirrow what was in Naomi’s heart.
It was a dangerous journey for the two women to take. They were vulnerable widows taking a trip few women dare to take without a man during those chaotic and often violent days when judges ruled. For Naomi and Ruth, there were no street lights, no paved roads, no rest stops and no security. They were easy prey for the bandits in the bushes – and then there was the Jordan River to cross and the 2,000 foot slope they had to climb – but these women were determined to make it home.
Naomi was going home. Home to her land. Home to her people. Home to her God… and so was Ruth.
Let’s take just a minute to examine a few of the countless lessons that parallel Naomi’s journey home:
When we get away from God, we seldom return the same. Naomi had left Bethlehem full of life, but what a difference a decade makes away from God, away from His people and away from His promises.
The journey home is always better with someone to help you along the way. No matter how far we stray, coming home is easier when we walk hand-in-hand together. Teri Lynne covered that truth beautifully in Tuesday’s post – My Mother-in-Law Rocks!
Going home may take humility and it may be a treacherous trip, but it’s always worth it! Naomi left in search of food during a famine, but now she was returning with empty arms and a broken heart. Perhaps she was wondering if she should have ever went to Moab in the first place. But the minute her foot stepped on Bethlehem soil, she was home and like Dorothy, Naomi knew – there’s no place like home!
Where are you on your journey? Have you wondered far from God in search of something somewhere over the rainbow? Are you in the middle of your journey home and in need of a helping hand? Or are you glad you never left your Bethlehem in the first place? What other lessons can we learn from Naomi’s journey home?