Are you in place you don’t need to be? Is God telling you to get out of Moab? How do you know when to leave and when to stay?
Recently I spoke on “MEETING AT THE CROSSROADS” and used the story of Ruth and Naomi to talk about what it takes to connect with others and walk in the right direction.
I so love the story of Ruth and Naomi, and each time I read it, I learn something new and powerful. Isn’t it so cool how the Bible is like that? The more we read it…the more we learn.
If you have time this Monday, my suggestion is to go to the book of Ruth and read it. It is four short chapters and will only take you few minutes. It is a beautiful story of redemption and restoration.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here is a brief summary of just the first chapter:
The book of Ruth opens with an Israelite, Elimelech, leaving Bethlehem with his wife Naomi and two sons, Mahlon, and Chilion. A famine drove them to leave their homeland and travel to Moab to make a new life. Elimelech felt his family was at a crossroads and made a decision to leave.
Today, people move all the time for jobs, family, location, schools, etc. so this might not seem like a big deal to us. In fact, we might even think that Elimelech was being a good provider by looking out for his family.
However, for an Israelite family to abandon their clan and leave the land of God’s blessing and provision was a grave sin. They weren’t just turning their backs on their hometown of Bethlehem and its people: they were turning their backs on God.
Warren Wiersbe, one of my favorite Bible teachers, puts it like this: Emilelech “walked by sight not by faith…” and took his whole family right down with him.
If leaving Judah was not bad enough, the place he chose to go was even worse.
Moab was a pagan land that worshipped many false gods and practiced human sacrifices. The Moabites had been horrible to the Israelites, refusing to give them water or feed them during their exodus from Egypt. God said that Moab was strictly off-limits for the Israelites.
This little family of four basically had two choices when they found themselves at the crossroads:
Stay in Bethlehem: risk starving their bodies.
Move to Moab: risk starving their faith.
And off to Moab they went!
There they made a new home and seemed to do well (the Bible does not give us many details) until Elimelech died. Though a widow, Naomi still had her two sons to provide for and protect her. Her boys ended up choosing Moabite women to marry and these women became part of Naomi’s family. But ten years later tragedy hit struck again as both of Naomi’s sons died…now leaving three women defenseless, alone, and with no way of supporting themselves.
Another crossroads…but now the decision falls to Naomi to choose. Her husband and sons are gone, so the choice is now hers.
Because they had neither food nor money, Naomi chose to return to her homeland, Bethlehem, in Judah. She had heard that the famine was over and was hoping to make a new start. She decided it was time to get out of Moab.
In Ruth 1:7 it says:
“So she set out from the place [Moab] where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.”
The Hebrew word for return is “shubh” (sounds like “shove”) and in this context it means: turn again, go on, go back, brought back, turn back.
That same word “return” is used 9 more times in Chapter 1 of Ruth!
Hmmmm….there must be some point here.
I think the message is pretty loud and clear: LEAVE MOAB! GO BACK TO GOD!
Liz Curtis Higgs wrote a book, THE GIRL’S STILL GOT IT, about the story of Ruth. She makes this insightful observation about Naomi’s decision to leave Moab:
In the same way and for the same reason, you and I need to leave the Moabs of our own making. Whether it’s a place we don’t belong or a relationship going in the wrong direction or an activity we’re ashamed of or a habit that’s strangling us, we need to get out of Moab.
This takes risk, obedience, and movement in a totally different direction.
I also think it is something for us to seriously ponder on this #MindfulMonday.
- What is your Moab?
- Why are you there?
- Do you hear God calling you to return?
- Isn’t is time to get packing and back on the right road?
A few years ago, I found myself at a crossroads with a several key friendships in my life.
I knew I was in a Moab of my own making.
But you know what? I kinda liked it.
Moab was fun, it was easy, and it was making me feel good.
But, like Naomi, God started taking things away from me one by one, so I was left standing at the crossroads all by myself.
I had a decision to make, a choice to pursue, and a new direction to take.
I needed to get out of Moab. And fast.
But leaving is hard sometimes, isn’t it? Even if we know it is best to go. Even if we realize that “there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” (see the quote above)
And there is another difficult part about leaving Moab. Maybe you remember this from the story of Naomi and Ruth…there was a third woman standing at the crossroads when they had to decide between staying in Moab or returning to Judah. Her name was Orpah. She was Naomi’s other daughter-in-law…the wife of her other son. All three women had to make a choice. Orpah chose differently than Ruth and Naomi. She returned to Moab. They left each other and went in opposite directions.
Sometimes we have to leave people too. People who are not traveling in the same direction. People who want to stay in Moab. People who have chosen different paths. It’s tough to do.
So on this #MindfulMonday, I want you to think about Moab. Your Moab. It may be a relationship, an addiction, a place, activity, or a habit. Be honest with yourself and recognize that staying there is not good for you.
And with God’s help and the support of others who love you and are moving in the same direction, make the decision to get out of Moab today.
If you need my help and encouragement along the way, you know I am here for you! Send me a private message so I can pray and come alongside of you as you turn in a new direction.
Remember…there are far, far better things ahead for you!
I hope you found today’s post a mindful way to start your week with faith and purpose.
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