“…then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)”
Naomi was on her way back home. A widow with nothing left to look forward to and hoping that her extended family back in Bethlehem would take care of her in her old age. Before she left, she attempted to convey her love to her daughters-in-law by releasing them back to their families, not wanting to take them so far away from their loved ones. Naomi also knew the walk home would be rough and dangerous. It was not for women to walk the open roads alone without a man to protect them. They had none. So she gave them an out and expected both to take it. Surprisingly, Ruth did not. Her affections for her mother-in-law were such that she was not willing to leave her to return home. She was willing to give up everything she previously held dear in order to pursue this one relation. Ruth was so precious.
I have found that in our walk with the Lord, there is a moment when the Lord stops us dead in our tracks, allows us to see the road ahead, to know the full impact of our decision to follow Him, and to decide once and for all what we are going to do. He calls it counting the cost.
Behind you is a lot of comfort. A lot of people you love, a lot of life you enjoy and a lot of things you feel you need and want. Ahead is a Promised Land that will require you to walk a long, hard road. The unknown is terrifying and the enemies are fierce. There will be times you feel helpless and unprotected. You know you have a companion, but you may not have a strong faith in Him. And He has is saying to you, “Go back to your family, go back to your comfort and have the things you desire. Now’s the time to turn around.” He wants you to count the cost, and not to plunge headlong into something that may cause you to look back longingly at the place you left, like Lot’s wife. He wants you to be sure. “Go back now,” He says. That’s not very comforting.
Orpah’s reaction to Naomi was honest. She didn’t agree to go because she felt obligated or compelled. The desire wasn’t in her, and so she decided to settle. She wasn’t wasting anyone’s time or hurting anyone by wavering afterward. She released them with a kiss and settled in her homeland. Ruth, on the other hand, was compelled by love to spend the rest of her life with Naomi. Her’s was the first, “for better or for worse” commitment recorded in the Bible! She was in it for the long haul. This is the kind of commitment God desires from us. Not a half-hearted, “well, I guess I’ll go.” Not a refusal spurred by our desire for the comforts of this life. But a whole-hearted, “Where you go, I’ll go.” But He also wants us to understand that it isn’t a vacation sort of trip. It’s a journey over mountainous regions, deserts and thorny places. Where the enemy is real and the unknown is unbearable at times. Though we don’t go alone, there may be times when our companion seems like little comfort. Count the cost! Can we say to Him, “I’m going with you, come what may!” and truly mean it? Can we keep moving forward without looking back at the things we’ve forfeited in exchange for this relationship? Is His presence more important to us than safety and comfort, and all those we love? This is the cost. Is it worth it to you? Be honest with the Lord. He will not drag you unwilling. He is asking you to walk beside Him. He may carry you sometimes, but sometimes, He may just stick to your side through the rough times. Or He may be up ahead beckoning. However the journey goes, count the cost: can you give up everything for Him?