My Wagon, His Star

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“Hitch your wagon to a star” they say. The expression means to: try to succeed by forming a relationship with someone who is already successful.

From a very human perspective, Ruth picked the wrong “star” if she intended to be successful.

Her husband was dead. Her mother-in-law was a widow without prospects, bitter and alone, heading back to a situation that was less than promising. Naomi encouraged both of her daughters-in-law to hitch their stars to a more-or-less sure thing—stay in Moab and find new husbands who could care for them and give them children.

But Ruth chose to hitch herself to a fading star. Ruth 1:16 gives us her words on the subject: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God”.

These words are sometimes used as a new bride’s response to her husband-to-be during wedding ceremonies. However, to my knowledge, they are never addressed to her mother-in-law, which is to whom they were originally addressed!

Nothing in her statement promised security or success for Ruth, except for those last four words: “…your God my God”. Instinctively Ruth knew that Naomi’s God was the key to whatever situation her mother-in-law was walking into as she returned home to Bethlehem. In essence when Ruth hitched her “star” to Naomi, she was hitching it to Naomi’s God and making Him hers.

Yesterday I came across Psalm 27 as I was researching for an upcoming retreat. It is the portrait of a person who finds, in the midst of the worst of the worst, that hitching his star to God is the guarantee to finding peace in the midst of conflict, comfort in the deepest pain, and joy in the most adverse of circumstances. Read it carefully. Embrace it fully. Attach yourself to it and find everything you need.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

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