Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

Wither Thou Goest

Judges 20:16 - Ruth 4:5

The end of Judges was filled with wickedness, images I don't want to think about, experiences that make me question why it is so hard to remember God.  To look to Him.  To follow Him.

Is it so hard to do the right thing?

Why is it so hard?

In the midst of all that is unsettled about Israel, I wonder to myself, wasn't there anyone who knew what it was to be true?

And then I turned the page and discovered Ruth.

I won't tell you her story, I will let you turn to the scriptures ––for it is a very pleasant read.  But I would like to share some of my favorite verses.  Descriptions of Ruth.  A woman of virtue in the midst of gross wickedness.  And again I find myself wondering, does a righteous woman today stand out in the way the Book of Ruth stands out after Numbers?

"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."  (Ruth 1:16--17)

"...she was stedfastly minded."  (Ruth 1:18)

"It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law..."  (Ruth 2:11)

"Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the end than at the beginning..."  (Ruth 3:10)

"...for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman."  (Ruth 3:11)

The characteristics of a righteous woman can be found within the story of Ruth.  A woman of loyalty, who came to know the Lord, who had a steadfast mind.  A woman who was kind.  Virtuous.  True.  The verses speak of a remarkable woman.

My very favorite verse about Ruth is found in the middle of chapter two.

It is because I know what it is to look to the Lord with a heart full of hope, when it seems as if hope is gone.  I know what it is to give, and give, and give and expect nothing in return.  I know what it is to love so deeply that loyalty isn't a decision but rather a consequence of that love.  And I know, even though I don't understand it, how it is to come to trust the Lord even when I am being led down an unfamiliar path that I would not have chosen.

"The Lord recompense thy work,

and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel,

under whose wings thou art come to trust."

(Ruth 2:12)

It is the last line that I hold on to.

On those days  when true love leads to greatest loyalty, when my heart is exhausted from giving, when I wonder if the path I trod will ever lead to a Promised Land, when it seems that hope is gone, I plead...

may every moment of my life, including days like those, lead me to know the Lord God of Israel,

under whose wings I, too, can come to trust.

 

Emily Freeman