To kiss or to cleave? Orpah kissed Naomi and returned to her people and her gods, but Ruth did not kiss her. Ruth’s choice was to cleave to her.
Do I stay or do I go? Do I return to what I know or do I follow that still, small voice inside.
As you read this you may be reminded of a time when you contemplated these questions. Some decisions just seem extra hard to make or exceptionally important. There are times when we know what seems right or what a “good” Christian should do, but it just doesn’t feel right. Other times, when everything in us says move, but fear is just too loud in our ears.
We call these times of significance kairos moments. They feel like an opportune time for something, like everything is in alignment. Moments when the decision before you will change everything, like a divine fork in the road that can propel you into your destiny.
Naomi told her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to leave her. Three times she said this. She told them to return to their families and live a good life. They wept together and said they would stay with her. A second time she said to them to turn back. “I have nothing for you. I am too old to have a husband and have more children. Even if I could, would you wait for them to grow up? No. It grieves me that the Lord has taken everything from me so that I have nothing to give you.” Again they wept together. Orpah then chose to return to her mother’s house. She kissed Naomi and walked away. As Orpah returned to her people and her gods, Ruth clave to her mother-in-law, joining herself to Naomi. Naomi, in her grief, tried one last time to push Ruth away. She said for a third time, “Leave! Follow someone else. Go with Orpah. Go with the world.” But Ruth had cleaved to her. Ruth knew this was her place. Everything in her said to stay.
This was Ruth’s kairos moment. And she took it!
Often times when these forks in the road present themselves, they coincide with turmoil or unrest. It could be an external conflict, like Naomi’s attempt to discourage Ruth from following her, or an inward battle between you and the voice that reminds you of your weaknesses. It could also happen at a time when it seems like your world has been destroyed. Remember, Ruth’s husband had just died.
Naomi’s Three Attempts
Many times when the fork in the road presents itself, you have to contend for the kairos path. The enemy does not want you to choose God’s will. Ruth had to make some really tough decisions. We can learn from this story three ways that the enemy will attempt to convince you to turn from your kairos moment and take the other path.
1. Go back to the safety of your past. Naomi told them to return to their mother’s house. They could be blessed there and live a good life. This was the safe decision. Ruth and Orpah were grieving. They both had just experienced the death of their husbands. Going home to family and support would have been very appealing. When your kairos moment comes, be prepared to face this decision: you can return to safety or face the unknown.
2. Your future is uncertain. Naomi was so defeated. When the women chose to stay with her she reminded them of the future that she saw. – it was barren and hopeless. For Orpah, this was her breaking point. Although she loved Naomi and wanted to stay, she felt the best choice was to leave and choose a future she could see. She knew what to expect in her home country. She knew her options for marriage and work and living. Her faith couldn’t see past an unknown future. She kissed her Naomi and left.
3. Just do what everyone else is doing. Finally Naomi says “Look around you Ruth. Everyone else has decided to leave. Follow them.” Society will tell you how to live; family, friends, Facebook, there are many, many opinions. The enemy will remind you of what everyone else is doing. He will bring into your vision all the safety and fun and ease others are experiencing. “Why would you chose to travel to an unknown land and commit to being the caretaker for an old woman when you could just go home? Look at your friend Orpah. She’s going to get married and have babies and live a great life, but you won’t”
When your destiny is being contended for, there will be trying times. There will be forks in the road. You will be forced to make hard decisions. You will have to give up your past, your future, and the opinion of the world to follow His purpose for you. You have to release who you were, hand over what you want to be, and be blind to the opinions of others or what the world is doing if you want to birth the purpose God has for you. Ruth’s commitment to her purpose was absolute and determined. She had to be stubborn about it, refusing the other options. She was not tempted away by comfort or scared away by fear. She was resolute.
Discernment is Required
How do you know when to kiss and when to cleave? There are ordained times for both. There are times when you know you should knock the dust from your feet and move on. Then there are times when the Spirit moves and you know you need to dig in and commit. There are times when you should kiss and leave and there are times when you should cleave. Not ever decision is your kairos moment. Confusion and chaos can happen when you don’t discern the situation correctly. You leave when you should commit to the journey. Then there are times when you cleave, but it’s not your journey to take.
Ultimately we read that Ruth made the decision to walk with Naomi. She may have known the brevity of her decision, but often we can’t see how big the decision is until we live it out and look back. We know now that her decision to cleave to Naomi led her to Boaz, which led to Obed, which led to David, and eventually to Jesus Christ our Savior.
Just think if she would’ve went back home? Don’t miss your moment.