It’s been over 30 years since I moved into my current residence. When I moved in, I didn’t have much. Therefore, for the most part, in regards to my home, I’ve done more collecting than purging. Needless to say, for a small place, I have a lot of stuff. Did I say a lot of stuff? Because I have a lot of stuff.
Now, I find myself contemplating a purge.
I find myself considering a purge because, drum roll please… I’m going to the United Kingdom for two-six months! Yes, you read that right, the United Kingdom (UK) for two-six months—not the States and not for days or weeks, but months!I’m going to the United Kingdom for two-six months! Click To Tweet
Because of the length of time I’ll be gone, I hesitate to call it a “trip.” Also, I’m not bringing the contents of my home. So, I’m not “moving”, but I’m staying long enough to—for all intents and purposes—be “living” some place new.
On another note, I’ve been wanting to renovate parts of my home for some time. Because of the amount of work I’d like done, several people have asked if I plan on staying in my home during the renovation. No, I don’t, but I didn’t plan on being overseas either, but God opened the UK door.
So, though I’m not moving the contents of my home, because of the extent of the renovation, the best course of action is to pack up my home. Therefore, I find myself doing all the work of moving without moving—including a purge.
Part 12 of How to Respond When Life Happens
It only took twelve posts for us to finish up the first verse (first two sentences) of the book of Ruth. Hopefully, none of you find that number intimidating. Instead, I hope it reveals the richness in the Scriptures as a whole and the book of Ruth in particular. I hope it reveals the value of diving deep into the biblical text.
Today, we’re diving into the words “went to dwell.” Elimelech, Naomi, and their sons “went to dwell” in Moab. As I mentioned, this is Part 12 of our deep dive into the book of Ruth on How to Respond When Life Happens. I hope it blesses you.
Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
~ Ruth 1:1
Traveling to Moab in the Book of Ruth
In the Hebrew, the word translated “went” means “to travel” or “to walk.” For Elimelech, Naomi, and their sons, I envision both were true. Back then, the main mode of travel was walking. That’s especially true during a famine when many of the animals most likely would have been killed for food.
During normal times, there would be the concern for how to feed any livestock. During a famine, food might not be the only low or dwindling resource. Most famines, including those sent by God as described in Leviticus 26, were due to a lack of rain. So, I imagine water would be in high demand too. Therefore, even if animals survived the famine, when traveling, I envision the animals would most likely be camels, or something similar, since camels require little water, especially when traveling through the wilderness.
That’s right. For Elimelech, Naomi, and their sons to reach Moab from Bethlehem, Judah, they had to hike back through the Jericho pass. This journey took them back across the Jordan River and back into the wilderness, returning them into that from which God had delivered them. And this time, I imagine they would be traveling alone, not with the great multitude that Moses led out of Egypt.
Life had to be really bad in Israel to be willing to travel into hostile territory.
As I shared previously, Moab and Israel had a messy history. The two countries were enemies during “the days when the judges ruled,” which is the backdrop of Elimelech’s decision to take his family to Moab. Basically, Elimelech risked going into hostile territory in search of relief from the famine in Israel.
Life had to be really bad in Israel for Elimelech to think Moab was a better option, especially considering all Israel risked to return to their Promised Land—the land God promised them. Israel fought—shoot, most were still fighting at the time Elimelech left to return to Moab—to repossess their Promised Land.
So, in some ways, Elimelech was a deserter. He left Israel not just during a time of famine, but during a time of war. At that time, Israel was in both a spiritual and physical battle. Instead of fighting to get back what the devil stole from them, Elimelech entered enemy territory to live for a time. I’m sure, like me, Elimelech didn’t plan on “moving” to Moab. In his mind, as in mine with the UK, it wasn’t forever, but also, like me, it wasn’t going to be a short trip either.
The length of your stay speaks to the next two words in the passage—”to dwell.” In the Hebrew the words translated “to dwell” mean “to sojourn.” In other words, “to stay temporarily.” So, like me with the UK, Elimelech and his family intended to stay in Moab temporarily.
For Elimelech, going to Moab was by no means a vacation!
Traveling to the United Kingdom Today
For me, going to the UK presents its own challenges, but the United States and the United Kingdom are far from enemies. Though that hasn’t always been the case (cough, the American Revolution), today, the UK is amongst the USA’s closest allies. So, I‘m by no means traveling into enemy territory. Also, though life in post-COVID America is not without its challenges (i.e. high inflation, supply change issues, etc.), we are hardly in a famine.
No, the biggest challenges I have as I prepare to travel are all tied to letting go. Now, that I think about it, the whole purpose of a vacation is to get away or take a break from your normal routine—to let go of your normal routine for a while. A vacation is a reprieve or a temporary escape. The keyword here being temporary. And the length of stay has a direct impact on the state of things when you return.
Taking a break and letting go can be difficult.
For instance, take a weekend getaway. Not a lot changes with just a weekend away—even a long one. A long weekend is kind of like when your computer goes to sleep. When you log back in, everything on your desktop is exactly how you left it. Hopefully, you, like your computer, are better rested.
A longer vacation, say a few weeks, is more like a reboot. All your files are still there, assuming you saved your work. Therefore, you still have access to everything, but you can do so differently. Hopefully, accessing things differently will lead you to a different, more productive, and more desired outcome.
For my trip to the UK, I feel like the best analogy is a factory reset. That’s more like getting a new computer. I’ll have all the power and functionality as before—maybe even more if I upgrade, but my previous files aren’t there. They aren’t totally inaccessible. They’re on my old machine, so if I want, I can transfer them over. However, since y previous files aren’t there, I’m starting with a clean slate. In many ways, in choosing to live in the UK for a while, I’m choosing to start over.
The Beauty of a Clean Slate
That’s the beauty of a clean slate—starting over. In many ways, my trip to the UK is allowing me a fresh start—both when I get to the UK and when I return. That’s why I’m considering a purge—a factory reset of my life.
My trip to the UK presents a great opportunity for me to evaluate every aspect of my life. Since I’m only taking the bare minimum—what I really feel I need, I have the option of adding back in, both in the UK and when I return, only what really benefits my life going forward.Make room for all of the new things that God has in store. Click To Tweet
This means letting go of a lot of things I’ve been holding onto for a long time. It means letting go of physical, mental, spiritual things. Not all spiritual things are positive things. Some spiritual things were positive and of benefit in the past, but not positive or beneficial going forward. Some spiritual things are sins and they definitely aren’t positive or beneficial. So, yes, some spiritual things need to go—for multiple reasons.
I can’t help but feel like all this letting go has a purpose beyond me and what I can see today. I can’t help, but feel God’s lightening my load intentionally—on purpose. It will make traveling over the next few months easier. It will also allow me to be agile in my moving forward after I return to the States. Lastly, it will make room for all the new things God has in store.
That thought has me, once again, getting excited for my time in the UK. God is doing a new thing. I plan to see it.
I invite you along for the ride, so you can too.
Until next time…
Agape—loving and loved by Jesus,
The “How to Respond When Life Happens” Series:
- Part 1 – How to Respond When Life Happens
- Part 2 – The Freedom to Do You
- Part 3 – The Purpose of Chaos
- Part 4 – The Difference Between Felt Needs and Real Needs
- Part 5 – Who’s Ruling You? An Article about Submission
- Part 6 – Famines in the Bible
- Part 7 – The Differences Between Famines, Fasts and Feasts
- Part 8 – Famine in the Community
- Part 9 – The Meaning of the Land as Israel’s Possession
- Part 10 – What’s Important about Naomi’s Opening Situation in the Book of Ruth?
- Part 11 – Three Locations in the Book of Ruth
- Part 12 – Traveling in the Book of Ruth vs. Now
- Part 13 – Naomi’s Family’s Names in the Book of Ruth