Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Ruth Chronicles

Oh, how I've loved spending some time in five Southern states (Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virgina) this past month!

I'm not sure I've ever been homesick a day in my life, at least not in the usual sense. But my travels made me as close to homesick as I've ever been. I just love Southern people and the Southern pace of things. I love the weather, the sweet tea, and the accents. There's something about being down south, that puts me at ease and makes me feel at home.

So you can imagine, as I traveled I found myself feeling a bit...well, conflicted! I love my life in Connecticut, and I continue to feel a sense of purpose and calling here. Mostly, I know that God is doing a work in me. But during my time in Richmond especially, I was feeling that old familiar pull. Richmond is just home to me in a foretaste-of-True-Home sort of way.

When I picked up my rental car at the airport in Richmond after a weekend away with my pledge sisters, Chris Tomlin's newish song came on the radio. The lyrics are borrowed from the Book of Ruth--"Where you go, I'll go; where you stay, I'll stay; when you move, I'll move. I will follow You. Whom you love, I'll love; how you serve, I'll serve. If this life I lose, I will follow You." I had been prepared to wrestle a bit with the "Why am I not in Richmond?" question during my day and a half there. And those Tomlin lyrics echo so poignantly my heart's desire to always be "where the Cloud settles." It was an interesting start to the visit.

Then, just before I returned to the airport the following evening, I made one final visit to my beautiful Alma mater. As I sat in one of my favorite spots, a little academic quad where the bulk of my English and journalism courses took place, I was expectant for God to speak to me, as He had done so many sweet times before on this campus.

As I sat in that lovely familiar spot, I was looking for God to speak a practical, human answer, as in "Stay in New England for the next five years," or "Move back to Richmond next month." Instead, He spoke to my heart in a much more profound way.

I opened my Bible to Ruth chapters 1 and 2, the One-Year Bible's Old Testament passage for the day. I immediately laughed, realizing that I was going to be reading the passage from the Chris Tomlin song that had been stuck in my head since the day before:

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.

Then, I read on and these words jumped off the page at me:

Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."

I can't totally explain it, but I just felt the Father's pleasure in those words. It's not informed Bible study or careful exegesis, but sometimes He just speaks through His Word like that. Call me a mystic if you like. I think it would be taking too much liberty if I tried to apply that to a specific course of action. But I don't know--somehow Boaz's words flooded my heart with peace there on that stone bench in the middle of the Jepson quad. For the first time since the start of winter, the questions about whether to go or stay ceased for a moment and I basked in God's pleasure.

It's funny, because my friend B paraphrased that same verse for me earlier this year when I was so OVER the snowy Connecticut winter. I love it when God repeats things in our lives--usually means He's up to something.

I know I'm rambling. But I guess my point is just to say, here I am. Living right here in Connecticut, where the Cloud has settled. It's tempting to try to map out all of life, to want the particulars about the whens and whos and wheres. But I think, once again, God is just calling me to rest under this Cloud--to settle in enough to enjoy His presence, but not to get so comfy that I can't pick up and move when it's time to set out again.