The Book of Ruth is generally thought to be the story of Ruth and Boaz, but after reading it recently, I was struck by a different aspect of Ruth’s story. It was the relationship between Ruth and Naomi. As Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi was a person for whom Ruth had great respect. We see the depth of that in Ruth 1:16 when Ruth declares her loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi when she says in part, “…Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God…”
It’s important for us to have strong relationships with people we trust and respect and who are people of wisdom and discernment. About fifteen years ago, just such a person gave me some advice that quite literally changed the course of my life.
Years back, before Autumn Ridge Church moved to our current campus, I was involved in youth ministry as an associate youth pastor. It was a position I had not trained for, but one I somehow gradually worked into. When plans were announced that our church would be building a new campus and probably growing considerably in size, a very wise man from the elder board, Jennings Johnson, gave me some advice. He said, “Karen, if you want to continue to serve in ministry here, you need to continue your education. If you want to be qualified for whatever the Lord has planned as your next step, you need to finish your degree.”
Those words practically sent chills down my spine. Finishing my degree not only wasn’t on my radar screen, it was something I wasn’t sure I could even do. However, I had known and trusted this dear saint for years. If I was going to be all God had planned for me, I had to step out in faith and trust God instead of my insecurities. I listened to Jennings and found a way to earn my degree in counseling. Since that time I have been amazed at how God has used me in ministry here at Autumn Ridge. I knew and trusted the man and followed his wise counsel in spite of my fear and apprehension. It was a difficult decision, but I have never regretted that choice. He was my Naomi.
We all need a Naomi in our life – someone who challenges us and can give us the wise counsel of a mature brother or sister in Christ. God not only leads and guides us through prayer and scripture, but through the wise counsel of other believers – a Naomi.
If you don’t have one, I urge you to find a Naomi in your life. Take advantage of their wisdom and allow them to be part of your spiritual journey. Like Ruth, you may be blessed in ways you could not have imagined.