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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: Crossroads
By Joanne Sher


"Oh, how I love you, dear Mahlon." She caught the lump in her throat with a gulp, as tears misted from her brown eyes. "Whatever shall I do?"

The stiff body before her did not answer. She continued staring as it was lowered into the ground.

The delicate hand of Orpah touched her shoulder. She reached up and gave it a squeeze.

"Now I understand, Orpah," Ruth whispered. "Now I understand."

The two widows held each other tightly, until matronly arms engulfed them both.

"Mother," the ladies said in unison.

"Ruth. Orpah." Naomi sighed. "What a month this has been."

Friends and family bowed their heads as the women left the burial site together.


"Nothing. Nothing left in this land." Naomi kicked the dirt beneath her feet. "Barely enough grain for a loaf of bread."

Ruth, grinding the wheat, shielded it from the dust particles. "We will make do, Mother. Your God will provide."

Naomi sighed. "Perhaps. He has provided dear daughters-in-law to this old woman."

"And to us, a wonderful mother," Orpah said, entering the home from the outside.

The three grinned.


"She has been so good to us. She has lost a husband and both sons. How can we deprive her of daughters as well?" Ruth sat in the corner beside Orpah, her voice barely above a whisper.

"We are a burden on her, Ruth," Orpah retorted. "Two more mouths to feed and no man to help her with it. If we go back to our homes, we will be provided for. We may even get new husbands. We are still young, you know."

Ruth held back her tears. "But what about Naomi?"

Orpah smiled. "She is returning to her people. Perhaps they will take care of her, as our people take care of us."

"Perhaps." Ruth shuddered. "Or perhaps not. Who knows what will meet her in Bethlehem? The least we can do is help her-go with her and aid her in her new start. Would she do less for us? Think of how supportive, how loving, she has been toward us--enemies of her people--for all these years. What an amazing God she must have to treat us that way. Do you really want to go back to our old way of life, our old gods?"

Orpah rested her chin on her hand and sighed. "I suppose you're right. She would certainly appreciate the help."

Ruth rose from the ground and grabbed a bulging satchel leaning against the wall. "Then we need to make haste, so we can catch up with her before it is too late."


Once the girls caught up with Naomi, the three strolled together in silence. After a few minutes, they reached a divide in the road. Naomi stopped and looked both Ruth and Orpah in the eye.

"Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.*" Naomi embraced and kissed both of them, and they wept together.

Ruth looked up at her mother-in-law. "We will go back with you to your people.*"

Naomi dismissed the idea as nonsense.

Orpah leaned into Ruth and whispered, "She has a good point, and we would be a burden." Backing away, Orpah kissed Naomi on the cheek. Wiping away tears, she left Ruth and Naomi, trudging back toward Moab.

Ruth, however, clung to Naomi, swearing to follow her wherever she would go, and claiming Naomi's God as her own. I will help her through this struggle. And, God willing, she will help me through mine.


Naomi put out her arms eagerly, receiving the wiggly, giggly bundle and pulling him close to her heart. "Little Obed," Naomi cooed, "What a wonderful family you have been born into."

Ruth and Boaz looked down at their child with glowing, love-filled eyes. "Thank you, Mother, for loving me, for supporting me, and for encouraging me in my grief to reach out to this wonderful man." Ruth's eyes left her child's and rested on her husband, then her mother-in-law. "You have helped me discover the beauty from my sorrow."

Naomi handed Obed back to Ruth. "It is you I should thank, sweet Ruth. You have given me help and hope. And, perhaps best of all," Naomi ran her hand through Obed's hair, "you have given me a son."

This story's empty spaces can be filled in by reading the Old Testament book of Ruth, Chapters 2-4.

References (from NIV):
Ruth 1:8-9, 10

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This article has been read 1399 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Patty Wysong03/06/08
A very good example of a silver lining!! I love how you brought these women to life with great details. Great!!
Catrina Bradley 03/06/08
I love the story of Ruth and Noami, and now I feel like I know them. You brought the characters to life. A great choice for the topic, too. Excellent!
LauraLee Shaw03/09/08
So tender and beautiful. Perfect for the topic. Also a great reminder for us today of our responsibility and privilege of ministering to those who are hurting and grieving. We can be their silver lining.
Seema Bagai 03/10/08
Excellent retelling of this story.
Karen Wilber03/11/08
I can't resist a Ruth story. Good choice for the topic. Everything looked bleak--but God had other, greater plans.
william price03/12/08
ANother superb retelling of a Bible account that is still relevant today. I like the way you added dimensions to the characters and brought them alive for us to hear and see. Great work. God bless.
Patrick Whalen03/12/08
You fit this wonderful Bibilical account into the topic in a very touching way! Loevely story and great writing.
Lynda Lee Schab 03/12/08
Great retelling. You did, indeed, bring these women to life for me. Lots of biblical fiction this week, which I'm enjoying. Yours truly stands out. Nicely done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/12/08
This is a beautiful rendition of Naomi and Ruth's story. You just get better and better with the retelling of the Bible stories. I can see you adding to this to enter for publication
Chely Roach03/12/08
I loved it...wonderful Bible retelling.
Lauryn Abbott03/12/08
Beautitul re-telling of one of my favorite Bible stories. Thank you!
Sara Harricharan 03/12/08
Oh I do like this version of Ruth's story! It's new and I love to read how Naomi's sadness is always turned to joy at the end. This was so good! ^_^
Mandy White03/12/08
I have a weak spot for a Ruth and Naomi story! Thanks for this beautiful piece, Joanne
Tim George03/12/08
Great narrative. It's funny you asked about the gap. I used the same device in my story this week and hoped it didn't confuse anyone. Keep up the great work.
Jan Ackerson 03/12/08
Well done, Joanne. I like the gap, and it works, ironically, because the story stands perfectly well without the missing details. Oaky, that probably didn't make sense in the least. But I really liked this re-telling of a favorite story.
Sharlyn Guthrie03/12/08
Masterfully told! I love the title because of the emphasis it places on the story.
Joy Faire Stewart03/12/08
One of my favorite Bible storys and you retold it beautifully. Excellent writing as always!
Henry Clemmons03/12/08
Great story. I love the names in this Biblial account. Some of my favorites. I see why you're in Masters.
Sara Harricharan 03/13/08
Wow, 2 weeks in a row, right? Congratulations, Joanne! Awesome, inspiring writing! ^_^
Betty Castleberry03/13/08
Joanne, I don't know how I missed reading this. It is SO well written. I could see everything so clearly. It doesn't hurt that I love the book of Ruth, either.
Congratulations on your win.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/13/08
Congratulations on EC for this wonderful story!
Joshua Janoski03/13/08
I absolutely love the Book of Ruth. You breathed exciting new life into this already wonderful Bible story.

I can't believe that I overlooked this one when commenting this week! That would have been a tragedy to miss it.

I love how Ruth stayed by Naomi's side, and how God blessed her for doing so.

Wonderful writing Joanne.
Ann Renae Hair03/13/08
WOW! You did it again. Congratulations. Ruth and Naomi are so dear to me, considering my precious relationship with my Mom-in-law, and you brought their story to life like I was there! Beautiful.
Sheri Gordon03/13/08
Congratulations on your EC, Joanne. You did a beautiful job retelling one of my favorite Bible stories. And a very good story for the topic.
Beth LaBuff 03/13/08
The personal touches are beautiful and gave me chills. As usual, your attention to detail is flawless. This is wonderful. Congrats on your EC!!
Shelley Ledfors 03/13/08
Wonderful, Joanne! You have such a gift for making these familiar stories come alive. And I love what you did in terms of the "empty space". To be honest, while reading through it, until I got to your comment at the end, I was thinking...very nice, but it seems a bit choppy or disjointed. Then, when I saw the note at the end, I "got" it...and loved your purpose! Congrats on your well deserved EC!!!
Sharon Henderson03/13/08
I admit it...I envy your gift for bringing Biblical stories back to life and relating them to the assigned topic so well. Keep up the great writing!
Debbie Roome 03/13/08
This is lovely. I would never have thought of approaching the topic from this angle. Well done on your EC.