But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Relate: A man was walking along the side of the lake when he saw his wife floundering in the water. Since neither he nor his wife could swim he panicked and ran towards a nearby fisherman. He yelled out, “Sir, my wife is drowning and I can’t swim. Please help. I’ll give you a hundred dollars!” The fisherman looked out and saw her in the lake and immediately started swimming towards her. He reached her, put his arm around her and pulled her to shore. Once there the relieved man said, “I was sorry to panic like that but when you were bringing her to shore I realized that she isn’t actually my wife but my mother in law that you saved.” The fisherman, realizing he wasn’t about to get that reward said, “Awww shucks, I’m sorry about that. How much do I owe you?”
React: One of the joys of being single is that I do not have to accumulate my own horror stories about my mother in law. One of the disadvantages is that I do not get the opportunity to bless some lucky lady with a great mother in law. (Yes, I am laying it on a bit thick a week early). In all fairness I know some couples who get along great with their in laws. What always amuses me though is that this famous verse of love and dedication is actually said from a widow to her mother in law who is about to literally change her name to “bitter”. I tend to grin inside when I hear this verse quoted at weddings and I am thinking to myself, “you have no idea…”
What kind of love and dedication went into Ruth’s declaration of fidelity? She was giving up her land, language, and culture. She was devoting herself to the only survivor of a very bad luck family. She wasn’t in it for the money, Ruth had to take up poverty employment from sunup to sundown to support herself and her bitter mother in law. We have here a beautiful example of the kind of love and devotion we are to have with our family… even the family we weren’t born with.
God, help me to practice the grace that You have so richly lavished on me. No matter how difficult it is to love that other person, give me the strength to do so. No matter how poisoned the relationship might be, no matter how much bad history and bitter memories there might be, help me to show Your love. Even as we nailed You to the cross, You forgave. Help me to forgive. Even as You were persecuted You showed love and interceded for us. Help me to continue to intercede for those who might try so hard to hate me. Let me be Your love… even to my in laws.