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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

TITLE: Ultimate Purpose
By Marita Thelander


I sit here all night and poke at the fire, wiping away the silent tears in the shadow of the night. Memories torment my mind simultaneously with the lick of the flames. Even when it becomes too painful to look into the fire anymore, I can’t seem to roll over and make myself fall asleep.

I simply am unable to willfully close my eyes without flashbacks of a life once lived taunting me. My mind races back in time to our arrival in Moab. We had fled a terrible famine in Judah to live among the heathens of Moab. People ridiculed us for our decision, but we were happy…at first.

I remember nights where I danced in complete abandon before my beloved, Elimelech. Mahlon and Chilion watched and laughed at my antics.

Our favorite times were soon after the boys were sound asleep.

“Ah my sweet Delight.” Emelech would call me Delight instead of Naomi, for my name means my delight. He would pat the cushion near him in seductive invitation. “You bring me such joy.”

Emelech’s hungry eyes penetrated to my very soul. He reached for me and I freely submitted myself to his love. How I miss the warmth of his lips as they covered mine.

That was then, this is now.

Even as I gaze at the stars above me I can’t help but remember everything. So much has happened since we left Bethlehem years ago. I buried my men in a foreign land. This must be God’s punishment on us for living among the Moabites.

Living there was one thing but my sons had crossed the invisible, yet very well defined line. They married Moabite women. Nothing good can come from that decision, of this I am sure.

My soul long ago left the valley of mourning and entered into the desert land of bitterness. I feel like a forgotten fig on the branch, withered and worthless.

I am no longer a sweet Delight. I shall call myself Mara, for I am bitter. Bitter I say.

Do you hear me God? I am bitter!

No longer shall I be Naomi, the pleasant one. Or the sweet Delight to anyone.

I cannot sleep at night. My mind rambles on for hours and I am unable to block out the torment. I watch Ruth sleep with ease. Ah, dear Ruth, the Compassionate Friend. Now her name truly fits her. I suppose she is the one good thing that has happened to me in all of this.

She is indeed faithful. I tried to free her, to send her home to her own mother, but she refused. She even said she wanted my God to be her god. I remember what she said that day. It penetrated the darkness in me and showed me a glimmer of hope.

"Don't force me to leave you; don't make me go home,” her eyes begged. “Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried. Not even death itself will come between us."

What did I ever do to deserve such devoted love from this girl? She is beautiful inside and out. I see why Mahlon had to have her for his wife. Besides, his brother had already taken his Moabite woman. The damage had been done.

Is that really how you work, God? Did we deserve all this death and misery because we lived among the heathens?

The sky is beginning to grow light. Soon we will be forced to journey on towards my home town. I wonder what Ruth will think of Bethlehem. Will she regret leaving her land and her people?

I pray that sweet Ruth finds something wonderful when we get there. That the God she has chosen to worship because of her devotion to a bitter old woman will bless her beyond anything we could ever imagine.

I have to cling to my gut feeling that there is an ultimate purpose for us. Even in this circumstance. I just don’t see it right now.


A portion of Ruth 1:16&17 is quoted from The Message.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 06/05/09
A nice retelling of a familiar Bible story.
Joanne Sher 06/07/09
Great descriptions. Ruth is a favorite of mine - and I love this bit of characterization of Naomi, and the foreshadowing.
Noel Mitaxa 06/08/09
Thank you for the absorbing color and the depth and range of feelings you've drawn from this story. Well told.
Sherry Wendling06/08/09
A beautifully imaginative, romantic rendering of a beloved Scripture story. A tiny bit of condensing on the explanatory portions would be the perfect polish on a lovely, lovely piece!

Colin Swann06/10/09
Wonderful retelling of the sweet/bitter account of two women who stuck together through thick and thin (Thick and Thin - have we had that yed? - too late now). Colin
Beth LaBuff 06/10/09
Wonderful contrast of these two women. This is perfect for the topic. I love how your title complements your ending!
Sara Harricharan 06/10/09
ooooh! Nicely done! I liked seeing this new POV from Naomi and Ruth. You had some great, very realistic touches that made them come alive for me. Very well done! ^_^