Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be on traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth…

Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” presents the lament of a traveller facing the proverbial ‘fork in the road’, knowing that he must choose one at the expense of the other. Our lives are full of choices, little and large, that lead to circumstances, character development, consequences, and ultimate destiny. We can’t have it both ways, and remain one traveller. The story of Ruth depicts two women at a fork in the road, as Ruth and Orpah must decide whether to go back to their homeland and people, or stay with Naomi as she returns to her home. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye to return to her people and god (1:15), whilst Ruth clung saying: “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you. (1:16,17)”

I don’t know if Ruth’s faith can be overstated. In her context, the sensible thing would be to return to her own people and hope to find a husband to support her. Instead, she commits to travel to land she does not know, to a people she does not know, to serve a God she does not know – all while aligning herself with an impoverished widow. She was definitely not following the secular advice of “The Woman’s Guide to Security and Success in the Ancient Near East”!

Something to Understand:

What a difference there often is between two persons who are under the same Christian teachings and opportunities! The one may express an interest in following Jesus, but the price is too great. Ruth was willing to pay that price, without any assurance regarding what may come. Surely the critical component to Ruth’s loving loyalty to Naomi was her trust in Naomi’s God, the God who would be hers too. Frequently, we have choices and opportunities brought before us that make sense, but take us away from God. In moments like these we need to know that such choices can never end well, for as James says, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change(James 1:16,17). (emphasis added)”