". . . at the beginning of the barley harvest." Ruth 1:22
The past has past. But for many the past is in the present. Seemingly, there's nothing we can do about it, except learn to live with it. The past can't be lived over again. Because in life, there are no do-overs. However, there are new beginnings.
Ruth and Naomi's arrival in Bethlehem was the end of a long, hard journey, not just from one place to another, but from one chapter of their lives to another. As far as Naomi was concerned, she had gone away and had returned empty. That chapter of life for her had been full of pain.
The questions that hang thick in the air: Can there be closure? Can the pain be left behind? Can there be a new beginning in which the memory of the pain will fade? Many are incapable of imagining anything good can ever be again, least of all, living with a shred of expectancy. Yet, the first chapter ends with a statement that is full of promise.
The famine is over. There is a harvest, and Ruth and Naomi have arrived at the time of reaping. The rest of the book will be about Naomi discovering, and rediscovering, God as her Redeemer and being overwhelmed by His rich generosity to her. And in the process, Ruth will be rescued and revalued.
Going away and coming back are part of the rhythm of our spiritual journey. It's also part of the rhythm of scripture. Abraham goes away to Egypt, but returns to God. Israel goes into exile, but comes back. In the New Testament the prodigal goes away, but returns home. The whole Bible is a story of the human race going away from God, and His great plan of salvation to bring us back again.
At the center of the God-plan is our Lord Jesus Christ, and the good news that calls us back home. The call is for all of us, however far away we are. It's an open invitation to come home to the God who loves you. Come back broken, bruised or bitter. Come back with low expectations, if that’s all you have, but come back.
Take a few moments to tell God why you went away, and that you are ready to return.