The Prodigal Family
a certain man of Bethlehem . . . went to the land of Moab . . . Ruth 1:1
God writes in chalk. He writes the story of salvation on the black background of sin. The love story of Ruth take place against the dark period of the judges. A time of massacre, brutality, deceit, and scandal. A time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. The love that Ruth finds is like a light in the midst of darkness. A reminder that we can always find beautiful things in dark moments.
The somber setting of the book of Ruth is a famine. There’s always a famine of some kind. A famine of the heart, a famine of love, trust, the famine of longing for compassion and not finding it, hoping and praying for help and not finding any. There is a famine of not hearing from God. It seems all lines of communication between heaven and your world have been cut. It feels like our prayers are being sent right back to us. There’s a famine of tenderness. A famine can be lived in so many ways.
Verse 1 tells the story of a prodigal family. When a famine came they became frightened and they left. This famine is one of thirteen mentioned in scripture. This family didn’t believe God could take care of them, so they left Bethlehem and ran off to the land of Moab.
The names of these two cities are significant. Bethlehem means “the house of bread and praise.” Sounds like a beautiful place to live. Moab means “garbage can.” Here’s a family who leaves the house of bread and go to eat out of the garbage can. Every day in our world millions of families take this journey.
Families hit a crisis and endure it, but not fully. They become frazzled, frantic and fractured. They quit trusting and claim their right to themselves. They drop out of church, give up on God and live as the lord of their own lives. Every day families also come back after a season of life in the garbage can; they find there’s more to be found in the house of bread.
Are you living in Bethlehem or Moab? What’s the next step for you to return? Will you do it?