The Valley of Decision
There are moments throughout life that demand a decision. And, as pastor and author Rico Tice says, “We are the choices that we make.”
After being struck by the triple tragedy of burying her husband and her two sons in Moab, Naomi decided to go back to her hometown, Bethlehem. Yet instead of forcing her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to return with her, Naomi urged them to remain in their own homeland of Moab, return to their families, remarry, and live full lives (Ruth 1:8-9). Ruth and Orpah were suddenly faced with a life-altering decision.
The lives of these three women were interwoven. They had lived with one another, experienced loss together, mourned together, and wept together. Ultimately, Orpah chose to remain behind, and Ruth decided to journey to Bethlehem with Naomi. Essentially, Orpah did what was expected and sensible. Ruth, on the other hand, abandoned the known for the unknown. She gave up the likelihood of remarriage to cling to her aged, helpless mother-in-law.
Ruth understood that her decision should not be guided by familiarity, security, or relational prospects. This moment would shape her life and her destiny. Remaining in Moab would mean remaining with the false gods of her upbringing and turning her back on everything she had presumably discovered from Naomi about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Naomi’s God had become Ruth’s God. That is why she decided to stay by Naomi’s side.
Ruth’s decision on the road to Bethlehem points forward to the valley of decision that Jesus calls each of us to stand in: Do you want to be my disciples, or do you want to return to the life you’ve known? Who is there who will forsake his or her father and mother and everything they know—all that represents stability and security—for my sake? (see Luke 14:26). Can we confidently say to Christ, “Where you go I will go”? Can we declare, “Though the way ahead is unfamiliar and unpopular, still I will follow”?
This is not a decision we make just at the moment of salvation. We make it every day of our lives: Will we go back to our old, sinful ways, or are we going to follow the way of truth? Will we make sacrifices and take risks in order to follow God and serve His people?
Ruth’s bold, faithful response to this pivotal choice sets an example for us as we consider what degrees to earn, what careers to pursue, how we spend our time and who we spend it with, how much money we have and how we’re going to steward it, or where we’re going to live and serve. Such decisions, made rightly, will mark us out as different—as unreservedly committed to following Jesus Christ, the one in whom we truly find abundant life (John 10:10).
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
27And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
31And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
34And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever would save his life4 will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 36For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
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