She isn’t that old, but already a widow. The sensible thing is to cut her losses and return to her family. Everyone says so.Even her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law, who she has served and loved. Who has been kind to her as well, even though she is from a different culture, serves different gods. Her mother-in-law, who herself was a widow before either son married.
The woman knows the story:
The father-in-law she never met had moved his family to an alien country when his own land was stricken with famine. Another sensible decision, leave your place, your God who seemed not to answer, and make your own future. But, it hasn’t been the salvation they had expected. Instead, loss on top of loss. First the man himself, then, later, one son after the other.And now, what is left? Three graves in foreign soil, nothing more. So, when word comes that her mother-in-law’s God has come to the aid of His people, there is only one thing to do. Go back home.
The three widows start out together, the younger two following the older. Suddenly, she turns and faces them. With faultless logic, she lays it all out. What can she, a dry, old widow do for them? Even if I marry today and have a boy child immediately, you will not, cannot wait until he grows up. Go.The younger women are stubborn and loyal. No, we won’t stay behind. But again the words come, Leave me. Don’t follow. It’s for the best. Her sister-in-law cries, gives her mother-in-law a kiss on the cheek, and turns back. Back to home, back to the familiar, back to a chance to begin again.
But, she cannot go. The bonds are tight, their lives entwined. Not blood, but sorrow binds them together. Together they have grieved, together they have survived.Her mother-in-law points out the obvious. Your sister-in-law has gone. She has done the wise, the prudent thing. Go.
She stops for a moment. She knows it makes no sense to uproot her life and follow a bitter widow. After all, what is there ahead of her? She will now be the stranger in a strange land. Worse, she is one of the despised nations whose ancestors caused sin, strife and death. She can hardly expect to be welcomed with open arms.To keep going means accepting a life of poverty, of hard work, of rejection. But, all the so-called logical and sensible decisions haven’t brought this family peace or happiness. What if the right choice isn’t the easy one?
As she ponders, she sees her mother-in-law beginning to nod, thinking she has finally made the right decision.And, she has. She shakes her head. No. Where you go, I’m going, too. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. Your future will be mine. I’m going to live where you live. I’m not leaving, no matter what. And so, wherever you die, that’s where I’ll be buried, as well.
These aren’t just pretty words. She has made a choice, not just of where to live, but of Whom to serve. She chooses to turn her back on her gods and embrace the God of this woman. She’s not completely sure why. But, something about Him intrigues her, makes her yearn to learn more.The older woman nods again, this time in acceptance. Her heart is still broken, her spirit bitter, her thoughts still anxious, but for now, it is enough to just walk with her daughter-in-law.
The younger nods, too. An unknown future is ahead of her, everything and everyone she knows, save this one, are behind her. But somehow there is peace, and even joy. And so she breathes, smiles, and begins the journey.