(June 1, 2020)

From Ruth 1:8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.’”

Naomi finally returns home because the famine is over and God has visited His people (1:6). Naomi’s two daughter-in-laws begin to return with her. But after they set out, Naomi urges them to stay in Moab because she realizes that she does not have anything to offer them. She does not have another son to give them to marry, and they probably have a brighter future without her. So, Naomi frees Orpah and Ruth from any guilt or any perceived social obligations. Naomi surrenders her own desires because she thinks it is in their best interest to remain. Of course, doing nothing would have been easier; it would have been the path of least resistance. But Naomi does something atypical: she has a very difficult conversation.

Can you imagine the scene? Tears were shed. Goodbyes were said. It was a heart-wrenching moment. I imagine amidst the swirl of emotions that Orpah had a sense of relief.

For Naomi, it will only mean the journey will be harder, that life will be lonelier, that she will endure even more loss. Her actions toward her daughter’s-in-law were purely an act of love. It was a gift.

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Is there a Naomi in your life? That is, is there someone who is willing to set aside their own feelings and sense of comfort in order to have a hard conversation for your benefit? Most people dodge such times. It requires maturity. Consider Naomi: in that conversation she personally had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

So if you have someone who can speak deeply into your life in love with your best interests in mind, it is a great gift. It is rare. Yet, such conversations often happen at life changing moments.  And, unlike in the particular case of Orpah, this type of hard conversation in love often can be hard to receive. So may God give us ears to hear.

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Father, thank you for the people You send into our lives. Who look out for our best interest. Who speak with courage and love. Thank You for our Naomis. Amen.