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January 19, 2021: ‘Do Not Urge Me to Leave You’

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you. ...’ When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her” (Ruth 1:16, 18, NKJV).

I have experienced a bitter spirit like Naomi. As an African-American woman, I have experienced many losses through racism, sexism, classism and misogynoir. Of those losses, it has been the ones I have suffered within my faith community that have been the most devastating because they resulted in misperceptions of God. Like Naomi, my misperception of God evoked anger, disappointment and bitterness. But unlike Naomi, my misperception also led to loss of identity with God.

In my grief, bitterness of spirit and state of separation from God, I could not perceive Him as the source of my comfort and restoration. Therefore, I urged the Holy Spirit—God’s appointed Source of comfort and restoration—to abandon me, as Naomi entreated Ruth. In pain, I urged the Holy Spirit to abandon me, by turning away from prayer and God’s Word.

Fortunately, as Ruth did not give in to Naomi, the Holy Spirit did not give in to me. Those times that I turned away, the Holy Spirit pleaded with me, “Do not urge me to leave you!” When I perceived the Holy Spirit’s determination to remain, I submitted and allowed the Spirit to journey with me, abide with me, and, eventually, take care of me by entreating me to pray and study God’s Word. In time, through submitting to the Holy Spirit’s care, I experienced the restoration of my perception of God and my identity in Him.

Lord, may we perceive that You can restore us through the Holy Spirit, who is determined to go with us wherever we go. Amen.

Barbara Washington is a chaplain fellow at Soin Medical Center for Kettering Adventist HealthCare in Ohio.

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