“And Ruth said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go: and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.” – Ruth 1:16-17
In this post, I want to take a look at three phrases in verses 16-17 of chapter one, and how we can see three steps of spiritual maturity.
Let’s take a look at these, contained in Ruth’s response, in verses 16-17, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee. For where thou goest, I will go, where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also if aught but death part thee and me.”
“Intreat me not to leave thee…” You know what made the prodigal son a prodigal? He left his father. Though I don’t believe that a genuine Believer in Christ would purposefully stumble in their walk with the Lord, we could avoid a lot of problems if we just prayed, “Intreat me not to leave thee…” The first sign that a Believer is maturing in their walk with the Lord is when they start placing a higher value on the presence of God in their lives. When His light shines in our lives, it often reveals things that need to change. We know that God will never leave us because the Word says so on many occasions; however, it is possible for us to walk away from Him. When a Christian begins to tell God, “You know what, I believe that You are the most important being in my life – if walking with You means that I’ll have to make some changes and stop doing some things, then so be it,” you can see their maturity growing.
“For whither thou goest, I will go…” If we’re not going to leave the Father, then what pray tell, are we going to do? I’ve heard it said that God can’t drive your car if you park it. This is the next step in the maturity process, surrendering our life to His plan. It isn’t easy letting go of control, but when you do, you will feel free! God has given every one of His children a special calling. A work He has equipped them to do. If you’re not sure what yours is, I highly encourage you to pray and ask Him to reveal it to you! But even if you’re not sure what it is, being willing to follow that call is the next step in becoming a mature child of God. In the first point, we established a desire for a close relationship with the Lord – here we’re stepping out and saying, “Okay Lord, You’re going to take my life somewhere and I have a choice: stay here or go – and I’m going with You!”
“The LORD do so to me and more also if aught but death part me and thee…” For the Christian, death won’t part us from the Lord but actually carry us closer to Him, but one can’t help but admire the fervor in this line. When I think about this phrase, I think of something (an accomplishment, life goal, passion, etc.) that someone clings to so much, that the only thing that could keep them from it is death. Our calling is something that should bring us closer to the Lord, not something to discourage us when times are hard. The final step, in my opinion, is endurance. Ever begin reading a book that was so good at the beginning but became really “slow-going” in the middle and you didn’t feel like finishing it? Sometimes a calling can be like that book – at first everything is exciting, but then it levels out and the only thing that will keep you on track is the Lord’s strength and a steadfast mind to endure to the end. Folks in full-time ministry will tell you that it isn’t always easy, it takes a fortitude and persistence to keep on…but look at what Ruth would have missed out on if she had turned back with Orpah? The third mark of maturity is to finish what you’ve started even if it ends up not being as gloriously exciting as when you started.