She packed lightly. Just a little food and water plus the clothes on her back. If they die during the week long trek to Bethlahem, at least they would be together. If they survived, then it would mean a new beginning for her. But she didn't know what it would mean for her dear Naomi.
Sometimes, she missed the Naomi she used to know--the sweet and calm woman who radiated peace and kindness. Life had been one pounding blow after another, leveling Naomi's joyful spirit into the dusty ground. First, Naomi's husband died and then her sons. All Naomi had left was her daughter-in-laws--Orpah and herself. And these days, it didn't seem like she even noticed their existence. When Naomi announced her decision to go back home, Ruth felt her heart stop. She felt her mother-in-law was more than just her husband's parent, she felt they were best friends.
Who helped her prepare for marriage in her tender teen aged years? Who encouraged her and helped her laugh through all the adjustments of becoming a woman? She was just a poor girl from a poor hardworking family. And after Naomi taught Ruth everything she would need to know, she let go and let her be the kind of wife that she was meant to be. All along the way, through all the turbulent years, Naomi never complained but spoke of El-Shaddai--her God and her people--the Hebrews. Naomi was a friend, confidante and a role model. Ruth wanted to be just like her. She longed to meet the Hebrews and know their ways. She wanted to worship their God, but it was hard to do in Moab.
And now, she saw her chance. She would go with Naomi and take care of her as a kind of pay back for all the kindness that Naomi had shown her over the years. It was hard growing old, and she felt for her. She realized that Naomi might never recover from her losses, but she loved her anyway. Ruth would die for this woman who saw something in her other than just an impoverished, ignorant outsider with a pitiful dowry. Naomi would just hug her and say that they got a good bargain.
Finally, her preparations for the trip were complete. She had given her farewells to her family who couldn't understand why she, a rather young widow, would not stay among her own people and start all over with a new husband chosen among the local young men. She stopped by her friends' houses--all young mothers full to the brim with babies and toddlers-- to say mournful good-byes. Oh, they said, stay here with us! Find a good man here so our children could play with your future children!
Ruth was tempted, but she was determined that if she re-married, her children would have a different kind of upbringing. Her children would know the God of the Isrealites and hear the stories about Abraham, Moses, Joshua --all the great men of God. Maybe her future sons would also be men of faith who knew God and served Him. Her friends often whispered to each other--she heard them--that it was a mistake that she married the foreigner. The proof of that was the empty cradle in her home. When Mahlon died, they rejoiced, because it meant to them that Ruth could find a real man who could give her the children she deserved.
Ruth held back tears, but did not resent their comments. These young women did not have the priviledge of sitting at Naomi's feet as Naomi comforted her with the story of Abraham and Sarah's struggle with barrenness. How did those two go on? She wondered. Poor Sarah! Poor Hagar! Poor Ishmael! But God proved to be kind to everyone, even to Sarah in her old age when she laughed at the messenger's prophecy of bearing a son. If God provided for Hagar in the wilderness, surely He would help her even though she was not an Isrealite.
She trembled at the thought. This was the God who parted the sea so that His people could safely escape slavery. This was the God who wrote the Law--the Ten Commandments that Naomi carefully taught her. And He created the whole world! How could she remain in Moab? How much she wanted to be with Naomi and to know her God! This was worth more to her than a hundred children. Ruth had made her choice, she was never going to come back to Moab. She was going to the Land of Bread. She was hungry for more than a few barley cakes. She was hungry to the core of her soul.
She adjusted her sandal straps and pulled her cloak tightly around her. Waiting up the road ahead of her were Naomi and Orpah. She took her first step towards them, her heart pounding quickly in her chest. It was going to be a long and hard journey, but she was starving for God's spiritual bread.