In honor of Women’s History Month, ladies enjoy this ”bad girl” series as we share our personal connections with women in the Bible who are notorious for being bad.
Notorious to Noteworthy!
But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:11-14 NIV)
Many are familiar with the story of Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. In case you don’t know about these women, all three lost their husbands while living in Moab, Ruth and Orpah’s hometown. Upon their husband’s death, Naomi decided to return to her native land of Bethlehem; her daughters-in-law chose to follow her. That is until somewhere down the road when Naomi urged them to return back to Moab. It was then that Orpah kissed and dismissed while Ruth chose to continue on the journey. The story goes on to tell of Ruth’s favor in Bethlehem and how she met an exceptional man named Boaz and ultimately contributed to the lineage of Jesus. In essence, she literally birthed royalty. For this reason, most celebrate Ruth for her faithfulness and commitment to Naomi. We find that Orpah is notorious while Ruth is noteworthy. (Her story being so noteworthy, that an entire book of the Bible was named in her honor) A noble woman she was indeed, who was richly blessed because of her sacrifice, but what about Orpah?
I was guilty of praising Ruth for her choices and completely dismissing Orpah’s actions as unfaithful and detestable until I realized just how much we really have in common! I thought about the journey back to Bethlehem and why Orpah could have possibly abandoned her mother and sister-in-law. Then it clicked—the very reasons I have abandoned various journeys I’ve been on. I started off well with good intentions, but eventually kissed them goodbye. Let’s consider some of the things that were likely going through Orpah’s head, prompting her to turn back:
“It’s just easier to go back to what I know.” – As Orpah walked the road with Naomi and Ruth, she was probably thinking about what she was leaving behind. So once the opportunity arose to go back, she returned to what she knew. Why? Because it’s always easier and comfortable in the place that you’ve always known. As an aspiring business mogul, I have walked away from “safe” jobs to pursue my passions a couple of times. I started on my journey, but turned back and returned to the safe place simply because it was easier. However, those turnarounds didn’t get me any closer to my destiny.
“This is going to be a long journey!” – The distance between Moab and Bethlehem is between 35-60 miles, depending on the route taken. This would translate to a 7-10 day trip by foot. Couple that with the rugged terrain and the fact that they had to cross the Jordan River and climb nearly 2,000 feet in elevation to reach Bethlehem, it’s no wonder she turned back!
“It’s just not worth it; there’s nothing there for me anyway.” – Naomi even told her daughters-in-law that there was no use in going on any further since she had no sons for them to marry. I am pretty sure this heavily influenced Orpah’s decision to return home. Her logic could’ve been that she’d rather be lonely and manless at home among her own people, than in a foreign land where she was unfamiliar with many. Ruth’s success and happily ever after proved that Orpah’s thinking was flawed. After hearing about her sister-in-law’s nuptials and other blessings, she had to wonder how life could’ve been for her if she only traveled on. I can’t help but to think about the countless times that I stopped mid voyage never to return to the path. Who knows where I would be today…
As women, we start many journeys in life: school, marriage, motherhood, career, entrepreneurship, ministry, friendship—just to name a few. I know how easy it is to turn back when you think of how comfortable life was where you came from, or when you consider how long the journey may take, or even still when you don’t know if your work is going to pay off in the end. Today, I make a pledge to God, you and myself to continue on my journey and I pray that you do the same. When those feelings of doubt, fear and inadequacy begin to creep in, I encourage you to combat it with these scriptures:
“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.” (2 Corinthians 8:11 NIV)
“… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 ESV)
I know I have left my journey many times when things seemed tough or when I couldn’t predict how the journey would end. Please forgive me for not staying my course. Please give me tenacity and commitment to complete the many journeys that You have placed in my life. When I get weary on the walk, renew my strength! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
To my Orpahs: I EMPOWER you to stay your course! You may have returned to Moab, but there is still time to get back on the road to Bethlehem! Your destiny depends on your faithfulness to complete the journey! Change your notorious name of Orpah to a noteworthy name of Ruth!
Have you started a journey and went back to what was familiar when the road ahead seemed dim? Share your story with us.
Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant. She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments. As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and three lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.