This past weekend 20 of us girls sojourned up the mountain for a retreat. What does that mean exactly ~ sojourn?
I've been pondering that word for a week or so now. I was the one preparing to lead the retreat group for a weekend of gleaning through the first chapter of the book of Ruth. As I prepared I asked Holy Spirit to highlight for me the words on which He would want us to focus. I asked expectantly on spiritual tiptoes, "Holy Spirit, what do You want us to know about this Naomi and Ruth story?"
The more I read that first chapter in Scripture, four words continually danced in my thoughts. I wrote them down. Flee. Hear. Return. Take. And then I continued to read and ponder the Word of God allowing each of these four words to be filtered through the Scripture and prayer.
Finally, the word sojourn jumped off the page, and I was puzzled. Lord, I thought you were giving me the word, flee. Did I get it wrong? The word used in the ESV Scripture is sojourn rather than flee.
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. Ruth 1:1 ESV
I sought the counsel of several online dictionaries. I'm still partial to Merriam-Webster from my youth. This is the definition I found in my online search: a temporary stay; a sojourn in the country.
The definition did not discount the original track of my prayerful thinking regarding Elimelech and his reason for moving out of Bethlehem and into Moab. The truth of the matter remains. There was a famine in the land. Elimelech packed up his family and sojourned to Moab for a temporary stay. The intent was to flee the famine don't you think?
I know as a parent if I felt I could provide better for our sons by moving I certainly would make that choice. And I did once upon a time, my husband and I, that is. And yet, there is no mention in this scripture of right or wrong motivations or choices. God allows us to read this story and ponder it through our own filters of life experience, choices made, and end results. Not everyone will see this first verse as a negative response to the famine in Bethlehem of Judah. I, for one though, have read this first verse over and over through the filter of fleeing danger.
So, then, I still had a question of the Lord,
Why did you highlight the word flee to me when the scripture most often seems to read sojourn? To sojourn to Moab seems to imply a purposeful vacation or temporary relocation. What am I missing?
It was then I saw a lightbulb come on in my thinking. How many times have I felt the strong desire to flee unpleasant circumstances, but respond with what looks to be a logical, methodical planned out move, temporary relocation or even vacation?
I can think of several examples from my own life. A number of times I have felt anxious about our current circumstances and found myself planning a change of physical location with a desire to escape. There was a time we wanted to leave a neighborhood because of some unwanted and dangerous gang activity.
We put our house for sale, but we hadn't prayed first for God's idea or His timing. It was 3 years and the birth of a prayer ministry before we were able to sell our house and move. "Bloom where you are planted, Lisa." This was God's answer to my desire to flee.
There have been other times I've simply packed a suitcase for my husband and me to flee to the beach because we wanted/needed a break from the hard stuff of life. I would most likely choose to use the word sojourn in most of my choices to flee the hard life situations. It just sounds better. Yet, with a deeper ponder I have to confess there are so many times my sojourn happens with a heart ready to flee.
What do you think as you read Ruth 1:1? What is your initial response to Elimelech's decision to take his family on a sojourn to Moab?
What is your first response to the hard stuff of life? Do you sojourn? Or do you flee? Do you think there is a difference?
What does Holy Spirit want you to know about flee and sojourn from His Word?
Eyes on Jesus... you're shining!
~ Meet Lisa Brittain ~
Hi. I'm so glad you stopped by. My name is Lisa and I am the founder of this website. My ministry is called Eyes on Jesus and Shine which comes from Psalm 34:5
My desire is to help others run toward Jesus and not away. I want to walk with you and introduce you to Him. I'll leave you two alone so you can find out for yourself; Who He is and who you are as you become adopted into God's family.
I love to walk through life with friends who help me keep my eyes on Jesus, and then I get to help them too when they forget. My hope is to live the overflow of my walk with Jesus so that His love shines bright through me and becomes a contagious joy for everyone I meet for the rest of my days on earth.