Chapter Three: “A Wow of a Vow”
If you’re new to our online study of The Girl’s Still Got It, welcome! You’ll find Weeks 1 and 2 on my website blog. Set your own pace and join us whenever you can.
When Ruth opened her mouth to speak, she definitely had something to say, didn’t she? Verse 1:16 is a beautiful, powerful declaration of love and commitment. This week we’ll walk through those vows with Ruth and see how they apply to our own lives. (Can I just say how glad I am we’re leaving Moab in the dust?! Thanks for your prayers, by the way. I’m praying about your Moabs as well.)
Moving on with anticipation…
1. a. To whom in your life could you gladly say, “Where you go I will go”? What might compel you to do so? Love? Duty? Compassion? Faith?
I’ve pledged to follow my husband till death us do part, compelled by all of the above, especially love. I lost my mother when I was 23, and my father when I was 46, so any duties there have sadly ended. If I were suddenly widowed (please, may it not be so, Lord!), I’m less certain whom I would gladly follow. Could I move to a much smaller town and live with my elderly in-laws? Care for them? Nurse them? Gulp. I would need a clear calling from the Lord (and a huge gifting of mercy) before I could do so with gladness. Not because I don’t love and cherish my in-laws—I absolutely do—but because of what I would be required to leave behind. Aye, there’s the rub.
Now read Matthew 4:18–22. Why did these four men follow Jesus? How does their example challenge you?
Three things really stand out in these verses, all of which convict me. After Peter, Andrew, James, and John were called by Jesus, they immediately responded. They dropped what they were doing. And they followed him. Why? Because he loved them, and they knew it. Because he spoke with authority, and they heard it. Because he offered them far more than a net full of fish, and they believed it. How am I challenged? Oh, let me count the ways. My days are often spent running around trying to catch fish on my own, then throwing them at Jesus’ feet and saying, “Look what I did for you!” Lord, please help me be a true disciple: someone who listens for your voice, then responds without hesitation, rather than turning back like you-know-who.
1. b. Despite Naomi’s bitterness, Ruth assures her, “Where you stay I will stay.” Think of a time when you shared a room with someone—whether for a week at a convention or for a semester at college—and it didn’t go well. What did you learn about yourself in the process?
Ugh. I learned that I’m not as easy to get along with as I thought. The temptation is to focus on how the other person needs to change. It’s much harder to say, “Here’s what I need to do differently,” especially if it’s something that other person has already pointed out. Like so many sins, this one boils down to pride. Hmm. I’m feeling a stiff neck coming on…
When it comes to living beneath the same roof with others, what counsel do Proverbs 16:7 and Romans 12:18 provide?
The verse in Proverbs is (surprise) exceedingly wise. If I focus on pleasing the Lord, I’ll be far easier to live with. And the Romans passage about doing everything I can to promote peace makes sense not only in our household, but in the greater world as well.
1. c. Ruth takes her commitment a step further, telling Naomi, “Your people will be my people.” What does Jesus require of his followers, as recorded in Matthew 10:37–39?
Ruth definitely lives out this passage. The question is, can I? My parents may be gone, yet my son and daughter are very much alive. Do I love the Lord more than I love them? Do I? The tears in my eyes are answer enough. What is the cross you would have me carry, Jesus? In your Word you promise, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29 Does that mean you walk beside us, yoked with us? Lord, I truly hope so. These words are almost more than I can bear. I’m not afraid of death. But I am afraid of losing the life I’m living. Even so, I can sense you gently loosening my fingers. Let go. Trust me.
And in Luke 18:29–30, what does Jesus promise those who leave behind loved ones for God’s sake?
Oh, this is good news. All will be restored and more, plus eternal life awaits us. But the sacrifice comes first. No getting around that. Ask any missionary who, like Ruth, left behind family and friends to follow God’s call. It isn’t easy, they’re quick to say. But it’s worth it.
2. a. Naomi grew up knowing the God of Israel, while Ruth, raised among a pagan people, committed her life to God as an adult. In what ways might when and how we meet the Lord shape our relationship with him?
I met the Lord at age 27. As an adult woman, my relationship with the Lord began not so much as parent to child, but as groom to bride. I clung to verses like Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name.” Because of God’s Word, which I was (obviously) old enough to read on my own, I was certain of his love, and quickly responded to it. How very different it must be for those who commit their lives to Christ at 8. Or at 48. Or at 88. Can’t wait to hear your answer to this one!
2. b. Read Deuteronomy 6:6–9, noting those things that Naomi might have done to share her faith with Ruth.
Impress God’s commandments on your children.
It seems very likely Naomi would have continued to teach her sons about the God of Israel and, in the process, instruct her daughters-in-law as well.
Talk about them when you sit at home.
The ancients loved to tell the stories of their people, of Abraham, of Moses. Naomi surely kept those stories alive as they sat sharing their meals, using them to teach God’s truth.
Talk about them when you walk along the road.
Everything required walking—going to the well, going to a neighbor’s house to visit, going to market to barter for goods. Naomi could have made God the center of their conversations as the family traveled on foot.
Talk about them when you lie down.
When better to review God’s commands than just before bedtime?
Talk about them when you get up.
We have morning devotions, right? It’s likely Naomi and her family began the day in a similar way, calling upon God through prayer.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your forehead.
For centuries Jewish believers have literally tied God’s Word on their hands and around their heads. Verses from the Torah are written on kosher parchment and placed inside leather boxes with leather straps, which are then attached to their arms/hands and to their foreheads. Though this practice didn’t begin until the third or fourth century BC, the symbolism of keeping God’s Word near at hand and on our minds is timeless.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses.
As I suggested (slightly tongue in cheek) on page 49, “Maybe Naomi carved those words into their tent poles in Moab or painted them across their goatskin walls.” Well, she could have.
Write them on your gates.
I’ve been to many a devout home that had Joshua 24:15 on a plaque by the door: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Among all those Moabite houses, it’s possible Naomi found some way to distinguish her home.
Which of these ancient methods might I incorporate in my life today? I have decided to meditate on a verse of God’s Word just before I fall asleep and reflect on it again the moment I wake up. Just put it by my bed, ready to read. I’ll let you know next week how that’s going. I’m kinda excited about it!
As for some new, twenty-first-century ways to share my faith with others, I’ve realized over the years that living out my faith is even more effective than talking about it all the time. Love first, help first, serve first, then acknowledge the Lord. People are far more likely to listen. I sure was.
3. a. Read the following passages, and note what each one has to say about death for those who live for God:
Romans 4:25 Since Christ was “raised to life for our justification,” we can be assured we will be raised to life as well, and justified by Christ alone.
John 5:24 This is thrilling!He who hears and believes 1) “has eternal life,” meaning right now, and 2) “has crossed over from death to life.” Not will cross over, but has crossed over. Wow. And I didn’t miss the amazing truth sandwiched in the middle: we “will not be condemned.” Best. News. Ever.
2 Corinthians 4:10 His death and his life are revealed in us. I’m thinking of Paul’s words to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 .
Revelation 2:10 This promise is very sobering: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Oh, may we be found that faithful! I’m picturing Stephen as he was about to be stoned: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God…” Acts 7:55
3. b. Ruth, Saul, Jonathan, and David are among those who gave God permission to punish them if they failed to honor their vows. Why do you think they made such bold statements? Was it courage? Chutzpah? Or something else entirely?
I think it was their absolute faith in God and in his ability to strengthen and guide them until their vows were fulfilled. They weren’t counting on their own virtue, but on his. Regarding courage, I love this passage from 2 Samuel 7:27: “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer.” Courage stems from God’s efforts on our behalf, not our efforts on his behalf.
In what situation could you imagine saying such a thing (without trembling in your boots!)?
Oh my. I have never asked God to punish me if I break my vow to him. Does that mean I lack the faith to speak those words? Or am I too afraid of failing him? For now, I’ll meditate on 1 John 5:3: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” It seems a fitting place to begin.
Your turn, beloved: kindly share something your found meaningful in Chapter Three of The Girl’s Still Got It or from Ruth 1:14-18. I’ll be eager to hear what you’ve learned.
Next up is Chapter Four, “Throw Out the Welcome Mat.” Give it a read, answer the three Study Guide questions, then pop on here next Wednesday and share your discoveries.
We gotta keep meeting like this!
Your sister, Liz