Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Orpah Walks Away

By Mary Vee
Ruth 1


From Orpah's Journal


My heart was twisted in knots. 


I wanted to go with Naomi to her former home in Bethlehem, but I didn't want to leave Moab. 


Could I speak the language of the Moabite people in Naomi's home country, or would I have to speak Hebrew all the time? Would I have to cook only Hebrew food, or could I make my favorite Moabite meals? Did I need to make different clothes or could I wear my family's clothing? 


Would the people accept me?


Each step I took away from the land where I had lived added a weight to my soul. Ruth, perky Ruth, sang, bounced with each step, and chatted with Naomi from the first moment we locked the door of the home we left behind.


I pretended to be happy, to count the journey as a great adventure--but it wasn't true--for me.


Ruth asked Naomi tons of questions about Hebrew customs, proper words to say, ways of greetings, and songs. Her face lit up when they talked about the Hebrew God. She asked Naomi questions about Hebrew history and what God had done for them.


Naomi told us about Moses, their beloved leader who was rescued as a baby by Pharaoh's daughter and raised in the Egyptian palace. She told us Moses ran away to the desert one day after killing a guard who had attacked a Hebrew slave. He hid in the desert for forty years before God called him to return to Egypt and lead the Israelites to freedom.  God sent ten terrible plagues to the Egyptians before Pharaoh agreed to release the Hebrews. On their escape journey, God divided the Red Sea and made the ground dry for all the Hebrews to walk across. 


Ruth listened with awe and asked for more.


I tried to listen with the excitement Ruth showed, but I wanted to go back home with my family. Of course, I wouldn't tell Naomi. She had been the perfect example of a godly woman and her loss had been greater than mine. I lost my husband to illness, Naomi lost her husband and her two sons. Ruth and I, Moabite women, were all she had left.


Around lunch time, Naomi stopped walking. She sat on a nearby stump and closed her eyes for a moment. Ruth and I set down the load we carried and ran to her side. "Do you need water? Should we camp here tonight to let you rest? Can we get you anything to eat?"


Naomi shook her head and sighed. "No. Thank you, no."  She sat still for a moment then looked at each of us. "Ruth, Orpah, I couldn't have been more blessed to have you as daughters-in-law." 


She took our hands and rubbed her knobby, calloused fingers across our skin. "You have served me more than I deserve. I have no right to ask you to travel to another country where everything will be foreign to you." 


Naomi looked with her loving smile at both of us. "I want you to go home to your mother's house. May the Lord treat you kindly as you have been to my sons whom you married, and to me. May the great God Almighty grant you rest in a new home with husbands."


She pulled us closer and kissed us. Tears soaked her eyes and her love touched my heart. What a sweet, giving woman.  I couldn't stop my own tears from spilling on to my cheeks. How could I be so selfish when this dear woman thought only of the needs of others?


Ruth and I hugged her close. "Mother, we will return with you to your country and people."


Naomi laughed through her tears. "I can't give you any more. If I were to marry tonight and have two new sons, would you really wait for them to grow up to marry you?" A few more tears dripped down her face. She swiped them away and stood. "No, my daughters, I am saddened for your sakes that God has taken our husbands, but you are young and can marry again. Go home and do so."


I glanced back to the land in which I had lived all my life. Memories flashed through my mind--I didn't want to leave my family, my home, my gods--I didn't want to give them up.


I leaned over to sweet Naomi, kissed her on the cheek, picked up my things, and walked home.


I never saw Ruth or Naomi again. 


I wonder what my life would have been like had I gone with them.


*******************************


1. What did Orpah worry about?
2. What did Ruth do?
3. What did Naomi teach them on their journey?
4. Why did Naomi stop walking?
5. What did Naomi tell Ruth and Orpah to do?
6. What did Orpah want to do?
7. In the end what did Orpah choose to do?


In God's Word Jesus says, "I am the way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me."  Had Orpah stayed with Naomi, she would have learned more about the true God, and maybe one day chose to worship Him. Instead she chose to worship the Moabite gods. How sad.

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