Women of the Bible Podcast

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Ruth - Week 2: Coming Home

Season:  Ruth

Erin Davis: Introduce yourselves, tell us your names . . . and I want to hear about your church!

Kristen Clark: I’m Kristen Clark from San Antonio, Texas, and I go to Crossway Bible Church. It’s a church plant that’s about six years old, and we’ve been with the church from a few months after it launched. So it’s been fun. We met in a cafeteria; now we have a building. It’s been an exciting journey and a lot of work, but it’s really good to see God work!

Erin: I love that! Okay, over here. 

Portia Collins: I am Portia Collins from Greenwood, Mississippi, and I go to a relatively small non-denominational church called Green Grove, and I love it there!

Erin: You go to church in the deep South!

Portia: I do. I always say even though I’m a member of a nondenominational church, I’m like part Presbyterian, because I fellowship pretty regularly with all my friends and everybody at Westminster Presbyterian.

Erin: I love those Southern churches! I taught at a church in Alabama recently that was actually in a cotton field! We had banana pudding at lunch, and I was like, “I lo-o-o-ve a Southern church!” The hair was high, and it was good! So I’d like to come to your church . . . and I’d like to come to your church! [Kristen and Portia laugh and agree.]

I live in Missouri, and I go to a pretty good-sized church, also non-denominational. It is the church where I came to know Jesus as a teenager. I left and then came back, but it feels like home to me! 

Maybe right now the women are listening to us, or watching us maybe in a Sunday school classroom, or they’re in the church lobby, or maybe they’re in a living room with their church friends or friends from area churches. Portia, you mentioned that you participate in other churches. 

Alright, I want to know what you like to do on long road trips! And, because I’m such a foodie, do you have a road trip snack combo? So, I’m going to tell you my road trip snack combo, and you’re going to think it’s gross! I only eat it on food trips. It’s the Pizza Combos and Arizona Green Tea. That’s my road trip food of choice. It’s pure not-good-for-me at all! 

Kristen: It will either keep you awake or knock you out!

Erin: And when you get wherever you’re going, you’ve got stomach road-rot so bad! Portia, road trips with the Collins family; paint the picture for us. What’s it like?

Portia: Oh man, it is bananas! My husband is the quintessential singer! He leads worship at our church, and he and my daughter drive me mad, because they are in their light . . . and she’s only two!

But he is hyping her up, and they are singing their hearts out to the Lord! And I am dying sometimes. I mean, I love the Lord, and I love to praise the Lord. But ten hours of every praise song . . .

Erin: But maybe not mile after mile after mile! 

Portia: I’m like, “Man!”

Kristen: That’s a lot of praise!

Erin: Y’all probably sing with a Southern accent?

Portia: Absolutely! I mean, y’all hear it now!

Erin: Alright, tell them your name and your road trip go-to habits, foods or whatever you think of whenever you think of road trips.

Kristen: Kristen Clark, and I do love road trips. I love a good road trip from Texas to Colorado; that’s my favorite, going to the mountains!

Erin: That’s a long road trip!

Kristen: It’s about sixteen, eighteen hours if we do it straight. So we need lots of snacks. We always have our little Yeti cooler right there in the middle. We fill it with drinks; we fill it with snacks. I like the junk food on road trips; I’m with you. You’ve got to have the munchies, the snacks. So we go with M&Ms, Sour Patch; have you guys had those? [Response: Oh, yeah!] Those are so good!

And then, music, audio books, sometimes we’ll break out in karaoke, just for fun in the car with it playing. We’ve done that.

Erin: I want to hear your two families combined on a road trip! Lots of singing . . . lots of snacking.

Portia: It would be very loud!

Erin: Well, we all traveled quite a ways to get here to this recording of the Women of the Bible podcast, and pretty soon we’re going to have to go home.

So, think about going home. You love the road trips; what do you love most about coming home?

Kristen: Oooh, I love getting in my PJs, snuggling up in my bed, and just watching a show!

Erin: I’m with you! Portia, what do you love about coming home? 

Portia: There is just such a peace that I feel when I go home, like, “I am home! I don’t have to do anything special. My baby girl comes (her name is Emory, but we call her Emmy), and she is like, “Mama!” It is just the best feeling in the world!

Erin: Here’s what I don’t love about coming home after a trip: the laundry situation!

Portia: Say! 

Kristen: Ugh! And unpacking!

Erin: I just want to scrap it and start over! But I live on a farm, so I love coming home and seeing my cows and my chickens and my rabbits and my dogs and what’s happened in my garden. There is nothing better than coming home!

In this episode of the Women of the Bible podcast, we’re going to be thinking about a trip . . . and coming home!

We’ve been walking through the book of Ruth. In the first session we made it all the way to Ruth 1, verse 5 . . . . so we haven’t made it very far, but a lot has happened in those first five verses! So let’s give those listening a quick recap. What happens in Ruth 1:1–5. Kristen, what comes to mind?

Kristen: We were introduced to Elimelech, an Israelite, and his wife, Naomi. They have two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. 

Erin: You did a good job on their names!-—I think.

Kristen: I think! I don’t know . . . the American version, maybe. There is a famine that hits the land in Bethlehem, so they travel to a pagan area, to Moab, the city. So Elimelech takes his whole family there. 

While there, his sons meet some Moabite women, they get married and then, long-story-short, Elimelech dies, the two sons die, so Naomi is left with her daughters-in-law. And that’s where we’re at!

Erin: We see several funerals in those first five verses! The patriarch dies, his two sons die, and that, in some way, sets the tone for all that is going to happen here in chapter 1. Portia, as you think about what we’ve covered so far, does anything else come to mind as significant? Specifically, I’m wondering if you can give some insights into that land of Moab.

Portia: If I use my imagination, I think it would have a sign for them, like, “Do Not Go Here!” 

Erin: Right. “Do Not Enter!”

Portia: Yes! Moab was basically born out of an incestuous relationship, so this was not a place that God would have His people to go. Yet, Elimelech took his family there, and the outcome was not great! 

Erin: Well, that’s right! And that, friends, is where we’re going to pick it up, at Ruth 1, verse 6, and I’ll just read us through verse 14. I hope as you listen to the Women of the Bible podcast, your Bible is handy. You’re always free to read along with us.

Let me give us Ruth chapter 1, verses 6–14. You’re going to hear some very famous words in here that you might hear at weddings and those kinds of things. They come right here from the story of Ruth.

Then she [Naomi] arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt [kindly] with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!’ Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

Portia, do you want to read from verse 10?

And they said to her, "No, we will return with you to your people." But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me." Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

Erin: I said we were stopping at verse 14, but let’s just finish this line of thought. I’ve got to know what happens! Kristen, could you read us verses 15–18?

Kristen:

And she said, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there [I will] be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you." And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

Erin: Those words were my wedding vows? Were they any of your wedding vows? [Kristen and Portia say no.] The day of our wedding, we stood on the beach at sunset and we said these words to each other. I’m not sure I knew they were originally between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. I thought they were very romantic!

Kristen: Poetic!

Erin: They were poetic. So there’s this moment where Naomi is deciding to return, and she’s urging her daughters-in-law not to return with her. Before we dig into what we’re going to talk about today, let’s talk about Orpah for a minute. I think we sometimes think Ruth was the good daughter-in-law and Orpah was not the good daughter-in-law. Do you have thoughts on Orpah?

Kristen: Oh, man! That’s a hard decision in that moment. I understand why she wanted to go back to Moab. Like, “You know, it would be great and all to go with you. I mean, you are my husband’s mother, but my whole family is back here. Everything I know, everything I grew up with. That’s what I’m used to; that’s what’s comfortable. So . . . yes, good idea. I think I’ll stay.”

Erin: Yes, Naomi even says, “Go back to your mother’s home.” So there’s an assumption on my part that their families were still around. Orpah decides, “You’re right.” She goes back to what she knows.

Kristen: Right, she’s thinking, I might get remarried here. She’s thinking of her future. [Erin and Portia agree.]

Portia: I often think about what she went back to, knowing what we know about Moab. Kind of using my imagination a little bit. It’s almost like, okay, did Ruth choose to press into the future and go to a restored future . . . a better place? And was Orpah’s decision like going back to death and sin? It just makes me wonder.

I believe God is very intentional with His Word. I believe He left it that way so that we kind of see, “Alright, Orpah went back, and we don’t know anything else.”

Erin: Yes, and Naomi does say, “Go back to your gods (lower “g” plural).” Yet it also says that Naomi had heard that the Lord had visited His people. So it could be, without villainizing Orpah at all, it does show us the fork in the road to going down the path of death towards the lower “g” gods, that ultimately cannot care for us. And Ruth’s choice to go towards the capital “G” God, who was at work in the Promised Land.

Portia: And we see that in this book.

Erin: I have two big ideas I want us to consider as we continue to walk through Ruth today. Those are repentance and returning. Naomi found herself (or maybe she went there willingly, we don’t know) . . . Naomi ended up in a place where she didn’t belong.

As we just saw in verse 6, at some point, after she faced a lot of tragedy, she makes the choice to get up and get out of Moab. She went back to the place of God’s blessing. She was from the Promised Land. She decided to leave this place of darkness and go back to the place of God’s blessing.

Now, Scripture does not say that Naomi repented; it doesn’t even say that Naomi needed to repent. So I don’t want to over-ascribe anything to her, because we don’t know. Did Elimelech make the choice to move his family to Moab and she didn’t consent to that, but she went? We don’t know any of that.

But I do think that what happens with Naomi here in these verses is a picture of repentance, and I want us to talk a little bit about repentance in our session. “Repentance” is a big, churchy word. Let’s demystify it a little bit. Kristen, if I were to ask you, “What’s repentance?” How would you answer that?

Kristen: Maybe genuine sorrow over sin?

Erin: Yeah, but you’re not quite sure that’s your answer.

Kristen: Maybe, possibly, could it be? (laughter)

Erin: I think it’s a great answer. Portia? What is repentance?

Portia: I would say, “turning around,” like a change; a decisive, “I’m going the opposite direction.”

Erin: What if we combined those two? “Genuine sorrow over sin, that leads to a turning around and heading in a different direction.”

Kristen: See, you just needed both of us! We each gave a piece.

Erin: Alright, well let’s see what Scripture has to say about repentance. Portia, can you read us Psalm 119, verse 59. I know you love Psalm 119 because Psalm 119 is all about the power of God’s Word in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but nothing leads me to repentance quite like being in the Bible. So, read us Psalm 119, verse 59.

Portia: “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.” 

Erin: Good. So, it’s that idea of turning, and often that turning does come with sorrow, because we realize we’ve been in a Moab of sorts. We’ve chosen a land that the Lord doesn’t have for us, but it’s that decision to turn. 

So, can you think of a recent or a past example where, maybe through His Word or maybe through His Word and the Holy Spirit or maybe even through a wise Christian sister, the Lord called you to a place of repentance? Kristen, does anything come to mind for you?

Kristen: Yes, very quickly. The past few weeks, there has been a lot going on in my life with big events, with Girl Defined. I’ve been busy and on the go. And when I get in that mode, I can just mow people over! I can become very project-oriented and lose my kindness. 

I had been unkind to my husband, like, “Okay! I’ve got to get this done,” and “Keep moving forward!” (I’m very Type A) And the Lord just convicted me of my unkindness toward him in that season, just recently. 

And so, I just went before Him and said, “Lord, help me! Change my heart! I’m not walking in love toward my husband and kindness and gentleness and self-control, fruits of the Spirit.” So I repented before the Lord, then went to my husband and said, “Would you forgive me for my unkindness lately? I want to be kinder. I want to love you graciously, genuinely, even in the midst of so much busyness and craziness.”

It was a small-ish thing . . . not this huge thing that I’ve been wrestling with, but it’s those little things that can really become big if we don’t take care of them.

Erin: You could have ignored that prompting of the Holy Spirit. Frankly, sometimes don’t we? “I’ve got so much to do!” Then, in your case, for ministry: “I’ve got so much to do for You Lord! I’ve got to get it done!” But you listened and made that decision to turn your heart toward Him and then toward your husband.

Portia, does anything come to mind for you? Any time the Lord has called you to repentance?

Portia: Yes. I have a tendency to get very resentful when I am stressed. I will be, let’s say, washing the dishes or doing something, and my husband will be sitting on the couch, scrolling on his phone. And I will get livid! It will just come up even though I know that I’m not supposed to be snappy. And I may not necessarily be snappy, but I’m just dry, and one-word responses.

It’s in my heart, and God has convicted me of that so much and has reminded me, “Listen, don’t worry about what your husband is doing. You do what I ask you to do: serve well, have joy in what I’ve given you, and be kind and gracious to your husband (and to your daughter).”

So I’ve been working on just not being resentful. I thank God that He’s pricked my heart on that and has allowed me to be able to show graciousness to my husband—even when I feel like, “Okay, you need to put down the phone and help me wash these dishes,” or “Emmy, I can’t do fifteen things at one time.” 

It’s just been beautiful to see how God is working in my heart, to just be kind to him and gracious in spite of/even in the midst of his own faults. 

Kristen: Girl, we’re in this together!

Erin: Yes, to be convicted of the heart posture of resentment, which bubbled out in behavior towards others. I’d really like to just keep going and not tell anything the Lord has ever called me to repentance over.

Kristen: Oh, no! You’re not off the hook! [

Erin: I know you’re not going to let me get away with that! I think back on those days when coronavirus was affecting us all so deeply, and the Lord really used that season to remind me to keep short accounts with people, to not let those resentments, those hurts, those behaviors build up.

So in that season, I made several phone calls (let’s be honest, sometimes they were text messages) just to say, “I’m sorry about that conversation we had,” or, “I’m sorry about that time I wasn’t kind to you,” or “I’m sorry that . . .” any number of things! And just to make sure, because that was such a wake-up call, that our days are numbered, and we don’t know what’s coming.

Just to make sure that, as much as I can be aware of. It’s very possible I’ve hurt people and not known of it. But, as much as I’m aware of, I have good relationships with the people I know. And you know what? I would never do that in my flesh. That wasn’t like a great Erin Davis plan.

Kristen: Right, that’s the last thing you want to do! 

Erin: Yes. It was the Lord calling me to repentance and often bringing things to mind that I was like, “Oh, I didn’t even remember that I had hurt her!” or “I didn’t even know that I was inattentive in that situation!” So repentance in the moment can be quite painful or at least awkward because it usually requires an, “I’m sorry,” but it’s always for our good!

There is always a connection between repentance and revival! 

Kristen: And it’s hard, sometimes, in that moment. Any times of repentance is like: [she gulps a breath and sounds like her words stop right in her throat, demonstrating that it’s hard to get the right humble words out of your mouth sometimes].

Portia: I just feel like God has reminded me . . . I don’t care what anybody else does, you’re going to be hard pressed to justify resentment. I don’t care how wrong somebody is.

Erin: Not in light of the Cross!

Portia: There may have been times when my husband should have been up and doing this or that. You know, if I’m cooking and Emmy’s destroying the house . . . okay, yeah, there may have been times . . .

Kristen: It doesn’t mean they’re in the right

Portia: Yes, but it doesn’t mean I can justify my resentment. I had gotten to the place where I was trying to do that.

Erin: Years ago, my mom showed up at my house. She was supposed to be there for the day. I went to say goodbye, and she went to put something in the back of her car, and her suitcase and her pillow were in there. And I was like, “Mom, what’s up with that!?”

And she was like, “Well, I was really mad at Steve! And the whole way up here I was trying to pray about it, and the Lord just kept saying, ‘I don’t care. I don’t care. Not that I don’t care about you, but I don’t want to hear these complaints you have.’” She said, “By the time I got here, I knew I couldn’t stay the weekend.” 

Kristen: So she came for a visit! 

Erin: The Lord was like, “I don’t want to hear what he did. I don’t care. You don’t get to act like this.”

Kristen: “Look at your heart!”

Portia: Right.

Kristen: You feel so justified in the moment. You’re not.

Erin: There’s also a real undeniable connection between repentance and revival. Here at Revive Our Hearts, we love to talk about revival; we pray for revival. We also study a lot of revival movements, and they all start with somebody—or some group of somebodies—being convicted of sin and then that goes out in waves.

We sort of see that here in the book of Ruth. Naomi returns, and then there’s this revival of her own heart, which has implications for her family. Repentance is interesting to think about: what will be the impact? You might just think, Oh, repenting of my resentment is about my marriage, but what if it has implications well beyond that? I think sin often does.

Portia: Yep, I agree.

Erin: So, Naomi makes this decision to return, and it’s kind of a revival of her faith that we see through generations. I wanted to look at evidences of repentance in our own lives? How do we know if we’ve repented? So, a couple of passages . . . who’s got Joel 2:12–13?

Kristen: I’ve got it!

Erin: Alright, and while you’re heading to Joel, I’m going to take us to 2 Corinthians 7. These are going to give us some insight into this idea of repentance, because it can be hard to wrap our brains around.

Kristen: Yes, it really can be. Joel says,

“Yet even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”

Erin: So good! It’s important to remember that here, the prophet Joel is talking to the people of God. He’s not talking to the lost.

Kristen: Right, he’s saying, “Return!”

Erin: He’s saying, “Come back to the Lord, children of God! And do it with grief, and do it with fasting.” It’s not because those twist the arm of God, but because you’re grieved over your sin. Right?

Kristen: Yes, return with all your heart. It’s not just part of you, not just a little, it’s a full turn back to the Lord.

Erin: When I think about my spiritual life . . . I’ve known Jesus for about twenty-five years. I think of those times when He calls me to return to Him with all my heart. There are some emotions in the mix that, in hindsight, are so, so beautiful.

Kristen: For sure.

Erin: Let me read us 2 Corinthians 7:8–11, which is from the New Testament: “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it.” This is Paul writing to the Corinthians, though “I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss [from it]” (vv. 8–9).

Paul’s always being so paternal, isn’t he? He wrote them a letter that made them upset, and he’s like, “Well, I’m a little sad it made you upset, but it led to godly grief!” That’s an interesting definition for repentance: godly grief!

We are women who love the church, but just as that prophet Joel was calling God’s people into godly grief, as you think about God’s people right here, right now (not in the days of Joel, not in the days of Paul), Portia, is there anything that you have godly grief over?

Portia: Yes. I have a huge passion for helping women to become biblically literate. I grieve over the fact that there are so many women who have been in churches or religious settings for years, but they have no real understanding of the truths in Scripture. There’s not a comprehensive understanding; they don’t cherish God’s Word.

I know so many who feel like reading Scripture is, “This is what I need to do to be a good Christian,” as opposed to, “This is where I can just behold God! This is where I see what He has specially revealed to us!” I grieve at the fact that there are so many who just don’t cherish God’s Word!

Erin: Yes, I recently heard Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth say, “When we get to heaven, will we say, ‘I didn’t read the book You gave me'?” And, of course, there’s not going to be condemnation there, but the thought that we could have been knowing Him this whole time! And I’m with you in that; I just feel grieved by it. 

It’s not necessarily a grief that leads to repentance, except it is a grief that leads to me wanting to open my Bible over and over and over and over again. Kristen, as you think of that phrase, “godly grief,” is there anything that comes to mind for you?

Kristen: So, thinking of the church, I just feel such a burden for it—the lack of brotherly affection and lack of one-anothers. So often church has become so individualistic, where we’re just going and attending and kind of consuming but not really becoming a part of a body and digging into those relationships—the messy, the joys, the grief, and really living out the one-anothers of Scripture. You don’t see that as often, and that’s what God calls us to as His Bride!

Erin: One thing I love about what you do at Girl Defined is, you guys really hold the banner high for sexual purity. We so need it. I know you hear from so many girls who haven’t followed God’s standards for purity, and it’s a mess!

And then He calls them to repentance, and there’s so much grief! Do any stories or any women come to mind where they were called to repentance in that area?

Kristen: Yes. I met a girl at an event, and she just shared that she was living in a lot of sin, a really unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend—sexual impurity. She didn’t really understand God’s design but knew He had something to say. It’s just amazing—God’s story!

She came across one of our videos on YouTube and started to see this vision of God’s design for her life as a woman, for her purity, and just for honoring Him with her life. That led her to repentance. She broke off this unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend and turned back to the Lord.

She cried out to Him and said, “God, help me to live in a way that honors You!” She said that for the first time, she felt like a weight was lifted! There was so much freedom, forgiveness, grace. She was forgiven of the shame.

It was just a beautiful testimony of God’s work! When we turn away from our sin—from what the world says is so good and so pleasurable and so right—and we trust God at His Word and we turn back to Him, the freedom that He has for us is just beautiful to see!

Erin: Yes, that’s that picture of repentance and returning! I think of Eli, my oldest, when he gave his life to the Lord and he got baptized, he told me the next day, “Mom, I just feel so much better!” It’s that weight being lifted! But in the midst of it, there’s some pain, there’s some sorrow. 

We don’t know if Naomi was having godly grief here. I don’t want to over apply the text, but I do think there is a picture here. We’ll talk more about Naomi’s grief tomorrow; she gets a little bit derailed in her perspective of the thing. But I do want to use this as a picture of repentance: this returning from Moab to the Promised Land.

As we think about repentance . . .We all have stories where we did repent. We probably also all have stories where we resisted repentance. So when that conviction comes in your life, what is it that keeps you from choosing repentance?

I like to think, the longer I walk with the Lord the quicker I turn, and I think that’s true. But I also resist. So what is it that keeps us from repentance?

Kristen: For me, it’s just pride. I don’t want to humble myself; I don’t want to go to that person or to the Lord and say, “I was wrong! I messed up. I sinned!” No, in my pride I just want to defend myself, I want to defend what I did. I want to justify it. I want to become the judge. I don’t want to humble myself before the Lord. That’s really the root of it.

Erin: Oh, man! I’m so glad that’s true of you, too, in a way! Pride is my greatest enemy in my walk with the Lord! Portia, when the Lord calls you to repentance, what do you think rises up in you that causes you to resist?

Portia: Honestly, the word that immediately popped in my head was, “Pride,” as well. I want to hold onto my way of doing this. I feel like I have the right answer; I have the right way to handle this. I don’t want to turn away from that, you know? And honestly, it’s really idolatry.

It’s me elevating myself above what God says is right. I’m saying, “Okay, well I think I’m more right than You, God!” And when we say that out loud, it’s like, “Oooh!” But in the moment, that’s exactly what we’re doing! We’re saying that we know better than God!

Erin: And Portia, you and I both have two-year-olds. I would like to arrange a marriage between Ezra and Emmy! We can just send out the invites now. Two-year-olds are pretty good examples of pride in action!

Because they’re like, “Mine!” Everything! I’m like, “You’ve never worked a day in your life! You have never bought anything, nothing belongs to you!” But there’s that, “Mine!” and that defending, and, “You can’t take from me.” That’s pretty much what pride looks like . . . it looks like a spiritual two-year-old!

Portia: Yes. Emmy, says, “Hmmph!” and crosses her arms and stands her ground. And I’m like, “Where does she learn this!? I have not taught her this! Where does this come from?” I’ve heard a pastor say they call the two-year-olds, “vipers in diapers!”

Kristen: Yes, I’ve heard that!

Portia: You don’t have to teach them how to sin!

Erin: That’s right, they know! Yes, we had a little phase with Ezra where he was wanting to reach toward the electrical plug-ins. He knew better, but we would say, “No!” really firm. And he would just reach very slo-o-owly because it was that forbidden fruit. 

And don’t we do that with sin? But God continues in His mercy! I’m so grateful that the Lord called me to repentance when I was fifteen years old and I gave my life to Him! I’m so glad that was not the end of Him calling me to repentance.

Portia: Yes, over and over.

Erin: But He continues to call me to repent, and to shape me. Repentance is often the beginning of a long road back to restoration. You mentioned that young friend of yours, Kristen. That was not like, “Okay, I’m going to repent,” and instantly everything was going to be fine. She had to break up with the boyfriend . . . and you know that was ugly. She probably had to earn some trust back with friends and family. Then I’m sure she has some heart hurts that the Lord has to deal with.

And that’s true of Naomi. Moab was about sixty miles from the place where she was. But this was before Uber, so sixty miles was a long way. It was a long road from Moab to Bethlehem, but she was willing to walk it.

Repentance sets that course; it puts our feet back towards . . . I keep taking us back to Joel: “Come back! Come back to the Lord!” It sets our feet back towards Him. After repentance, there is a returning.

So, rapid-fire, I thought we’d do some verses from the prophets. I love the prophets. So let’s get ourselves to Hose14:1, Zechariah 1:3, and Jeremiah 24:7. I’m going to end this on Jeremiah 24:7. I hope you guys know where you are (I can’t remember who I assigned to what.)

Kristen: I’ve got Hosea 14:1: “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” 

Erin: “Return, because you’ve stumbled.” It’s that simple!

Kristen: I like how straightforward that is.

Erin: Me, too. “You were walking along the road. You stumbled on sin; just come back!”

Kristen: Right, “return!” Don’t overthink it, just make that choice.

Erin: Just come back. Portia, can you give us Zechariah 1:3?

Portia: Zechariah 1:3, “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.’” 

Erin: There’s like a cadence to that one: “Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.” I feel like I could memorize that! Like, if I will return to Him, He will return to me. Again, these are prophets talking to the people of God: “Just come back!” 

I’m going to read us Jeremiah 24:7, which says: “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they [will] be my people and I will be their God [there’s some language there that ties us back to the book of Ruth, right?], for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

We would never repent on our own. That’s not a flesh response. Here God says, “I’m going to give them a heart for me and then they will return to me with their whole heart!” 

I always think of the woman listening to this podcast, and my heart is always stirred by thinking, “What Moab is she in?” Where is she in a place of darkness? Maybe, she ran right into that sin eyes wide open. More likely, she doesn’t even know how she got there. And the Lord has been convicting her.

Maybe in these few minutes as we’ve been talking about repentance, she’s got that rising heartbeat, the Holy Spirit has brought something to mind. She might be right there on the mats in the middle of the wrestle! But the Lord is saying so sweetly, “Come back to Me! Come back to Me! Come back to Me!”

How does she do it? What does it mean to repent? Are there steps she needs to take? Are there words she needs to say? Think of that woman listening who needs to repent. How does she do it? Portia?

Portia: Just right now, make the decision. Bow before the Lord; cry out to Him! The Lord knows I’ve experienced so much in my life, but when I get to that place where I am at my end—the end of myself—it is literally like raised hands, “Lord, I want to do what You want me to do; I want to be where You want me to be!”

So I just pray for whatever woman that is listening, just right now in the stillness of your home or your car, just turn back to God. Just make the decision and say, “Lord, I want to do what is pleasing in Your sight. Mold me to be who You would have me to be!” 

Kristen: Amen.

Erin: It’s that simple, and He’s right there. Sometimes we need a “Ruth” to walk that path home with us. Naomi was going home, and she was going to walk that long road, and she had sent her daughters-in-law away. But Ruth walked that long road with her.

I think, right now, let’s just call some women home. Let’s just say, “Come home!” Let’s just call out where they might be. To the woman who hasn’t read her Bible in a year: Come home! Who else, Kristen. Just call her home.

Kristen: To the woman who is going to church and doing all the Christian things on the outside, but has lost her true love for the Lord: Come back to Him. He loves you!

Portia: To the woman who has lost her joy in serving her family, her husband, and her children: Come home!

Erin: To the woman who is so bitter toward another woman at church that she can’t stand the sight of her: Come home! Who else?

Kristen: To the woman who is in a struggling marriage, looking to her husband to fulfill her, to change: Come back to the Lord! Serve Him wholeheartedly.

Portia: To the woman who has not been engaging in the kindest conversation, or who has been using her words for ill: Come home!

Erin: To the woman who is deep in sexual sin and she has no idea how she got there. It might be what she’s looking at, it might be who she’s sharing a bed with, it might be who she’s fantasizing about. It’s time to come home! Anybody else come to mind?

Portia: To the woman who just feels lost, like she has lost her way, and she doesn’t know what to do: Come home! God knows and He will take care of you!

Kristen: Yes.

Erin: He will. As I was thinking about this session, I was struck by the verse in Jeremiah 24:7 being as if it were: “24/7.” Now, the numbers and verse divisions are not divinely inspired; they’re put there. But for me, that thought of that 24/7 I can return to the Lord—all day, every day, I can return to the Lord! Let me read to us Jeremiah 24:7 one more time.

And then, Kristen, because I know there are probably some women listening whose hearts are stirred, would you just end this session by praying for us?

Jeremiah 24:7 (because 24/7 we can repent and return to the Lord): “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart[s].”

Kristen: Oh Lord, we cry out to You right now! We ask that You will give us a heart for You! You are the Almighty God Who can change our hearts! You can turn hearts of stone into flesh. You can soften what has been prideful, what has been turned against You, what has been done in our own way, Lord! We want to do our thing so often!

But we need You to change our hearts, to redirect our steps. You’re calling us back, calling us to return, Lord. You are gracious. You are slow to anger. You are merciful. You are abounding in steadfast love and kindness. Lord, we can turn to You with those promises of Your character. Help us to turn back to You, Lord. We need You!

All three ladies: Amen.

Erin: Well, it’s not too late to start studying the book of Ruth with us! It is time to say goodbye for now; we’ll be back very soon. But I hope that you will grab your own copy of this Bible study on Ruth; it’s part of our Women of the Bible series. 

You can find it at ReviveOurHearts.com/Ruth. That’s also where you can see this whole conversation on video, so if you’re wondering what we look like, that’s where you can see it happen! 

Portia, one way they can connect with you is through a book you contributed to, His Testimonies, My Heritage, a beautiful book inside and out! Can you tell us more about that book and where they can grab a copy?

Portia: Yes. This book was published by The Good Book Company, so you can catch it on their website. It is an exposition of Psalm 119. I think there are about twenty-four different women who contributed to the book. I just encourage you to grab it, and it will be good for devotional reading and just helping you to walk through Psalm 119.

Erin: It’s all good, but if they wanted to fast-forward to your chapter . . .?

Portia: Chapter 20.

Erin: Chapter 20! And Kristen, you’re also a gifted writer. Tell us a little bit about your book Girl Defined.

Kristen: Girl Defined is a part of Girl Defined Ministries. It’s the first bookthat we published and it’s all about God’s radical design for beauty, femininity, and identity. It’s written for young women. It has a built-in study guide, so great for moms to go through with their daughters or just young women to read on their own.

Erin: I love both books! I have copies of both books. They both have the Erin Davis “seal of approval.”

We’re going to be right back here in the studio (and wherever you’re listening next week) as we continue to work through this book of Ruth, which really is a joy! It doesn’t feel much like work to me!

Learn more about true repentance as we study Ruth on the next Women of the Bible podcast!

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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About the Speakers

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many …

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Kristen Clark

Kristen Clark

Kristen Clark is married to her best friend, Zack, is co-founder of GirlDefined Ministries, and author of Girl DefinedLove Defined, and Sex, Purity, and the Longings of …

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Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on …

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