So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Ruth 1, verse 22.
When we return home, we rarely do so empty-handed. Yes, there are many times when folks move into back into our lives, or our homes, seemingly with nothing in hand. Have you ever had one of your children move out, only to move back into your house later? My wife and I have; it has happened several times in fact. On the surface, you could say the person who returns comes back with less than they left, but that simply wouldn’t be true. Even if the only thing they return with is memories and knowledge, they return with more than they left.
That’s an important concept to remember for several reasons. Most obviously, it was true with Naomi. Yes, she returned home without her husband and sons, but she did have Ruth. As we are learning, that means she returned with a treasure. Yet the larger picture, I believe, is that we always return with God. It is God who provides us with experience, knowledge, wisdom, mistakes, memories, hopes, wishes, challenges, and all that we return with even when we return without physical possessions.
In one sense, we can never ‘go home.’ The first time you return to your birth-home, or the place from where you departed when you started life on your own, you realize that things have changed while you’re gone. That’s the nature of things, and it’s a blessing of living in a world of God’s motion. Yet in the larger sense, wherever we are, when we journey with Jesus, we are always home. When we return to where we started, we’re bringing back the richness of all He has taught us in the intervening time. And Him.
This week, I spent a day with my father-in-law at my parents’ home in Oklahoma. We were getting things out of the house because my mom has moved into assisted living; we’re readying the house for sale. As I was walking through the place, in-between asking myself “how am I ever going to get this ready” I realized again that, once we leave, we can never really go home because home is wherever we make it. Home is wherever Jesus is because that’s where love is. The longer I live, the more I see that home is anywhere we share that love, especially when it is with family. That God provides for us at the proper time wherever we are and wherever we go. In the verses to come, this is a truism that Naomi is about to learn.
Jesus of home, You are my home. Wherever You are is where I am at home. Thank you for providing me with family, a place to live, and memories. Guide us now in these days up ahead.
Read Ruth 1, the whole chapter one last time.
How did you feel the first time you returned home after moving out?
Have you ever returned home feeling bitter?
What do you bring with you when you go back home?