Thursday 11 December 2008

The Moab Option

Before Israel was ruled by kings, Elimelech from the tribe of Ephrath lived in the town of Bethlehem. His wife was named Naomi, and their two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. But when their crops failed, they moved to the country of Moab. And while they were there, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi with only her two sons. Later, Naomi's sons married Moabite women. One was named Orpah and the other Ruth. About ten years later, Mahlon and Chilion also died. Now Naomi had no husband or sons.

Ruth 1:1-5

The message preached was to stay in the land; stay in the place of God’s covering and planting. Leaving the hedge of God’s protection, as green as the grass may seem on the other side leads to even worse devastation.

Don’t take the Moab option. Simple enough, but it isn’t as clear-cut as that.

It would have been fairly simple if I had simply stopped going to church. The message then would be ‘go back to church’, except that if I had stopped going to church, I wouldn’t have heard the message. It’s fairly simple to tell one to stay in the land, no matter how bleak it looks. The question I struggle with now is this: Where is the land?

Is it here, or was it there? Did I step out of the land or did I step into it? I have no clue and I don’t know where to look. If feelings were a true indicator of anything, neither one would serve. If rationality were to prevail, I would say the here and the now is the best place for this time. But if you were to look forward to the future and try to see where I would be best placed, like a pawn in a chess game, I would tell you that I don’t know.

I don’t want to make a decision based purely on emotions neither do I want to make it based on sheer rationality. I’ve made those before and what may seem rational may not exactly be right. Neither is what’s emotional. Added to that, I don’t know what I really feel anymore; it could be hormones or guilt or God.

It doesn’t make sense, this decision, and yet it does. Why do I always feel as if it’s time to give up everything and move again just when I’m finally being settled? Just when I’m finally beginning to be comfortable with myself and think that maybe this time, just maybe I can belong? Is it something in my psyche that tells me it’s not okay to be comfortable or happy? That it’s better to be one, alone?

Is this exile temporary or permanent, self-inflicted or God-led? Is it even exile? It could very well be the Promised Land. It’s not as if I have forsaken the company of the saints. If anything, I have aligned myself to the company of those that have taken me in unconditionally.

But where do I go from here? Do I make a decision now to commit, to stay, build and grow or do I return to where awkwardness and bitterness still roots in my heart?

Maybe the answer is as they say; to stay until I am sure that I am to leave. Until I have comfort in leaving. The other question then arises: if this were a command from God, what then would this disobedience cost me? And yet I don’t know one way or another which is God and which is me and which or all could be the Enemy’s victory.

Don’t take the Moab option. Easy enough to say, but which one is it?

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