There is a movie on Netflix at the moment called Outback. It’s about two American tourists who spontaneously change their road trip route from Sydney to Cairns by adding a detour to Uluru. They drive and drive and eventually get stranded in the desert. At one point in their search for help, they get separated and in their desperate effort to find each other, they stop and consider, “Should I go left or right?” It was intense to watch because you knew one way would be the direction of their partner, and the other would inevitably lead to a horrible death of dehydration, starvation and exhaustion. A crossroad of the extreme.
We encounter decision making all the time, but some seem like a crossroad more than others. We think one decision will alter the course of our life, but the other offers a dramatically different outcome as well. Should I marry this person? Should I apply for this job overseas? Should I have a baby? Should I buy a house in this area? Decisions, small or large, change the course of our lives.
As we read in Ruth 1:8-18, Orpah and Ruth stand at a crossroad. The decision is to return to Moab and search for a new husband, or follow Naomi back to Bethlehem with no promise of a husband or prosperity. “At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.” (vs 14) Orpah chose to face reality. She was a widow, she needed a husband to survive, so she returned to her people and her gods. But, Ruth faced the same reality, but chose loyalty to Naomi, not to the search of a husband which was dramatic for the era. Also, she vowed to forsake her family and Moabite gods, to follow YAHWEH and become a person of Judah. What a life altering decision. What I see as the main difference between the women is that Ruth decides on the basis of Other and Faith. Whereas Orpah is guided by Self and Reality. What’s interesting is Ruth becomes the main character of the story while Orpah is forgotten. God sees Ruth’s faith and consideration of Naomi, and her decision is nurtured by God.
If Ruth is the model example for us, we should understand that the best decisions are those that are made in faith and at the consideration of others. Instead of, “Should I marry this person? Should I apply for this job overseas? Should I have a baby? Should I buy a house in this area?” Maybe we should change our decision making too, “If this is who God brought about for me to marry, then I will be loyal to them. I don’t know how this overseas move is going to work out, but I know God is calling me there. God knows when is best for me to have a child. If we buy in this area, can we reach the local community?”
From Ruth’s example, no matter how daunting the crossroad is, I find peace in thinking we can’t make a wrong decision if we make it in faith and at the consideration of others.