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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Commitment (01/05/12)

TITLE: Heartbreak and Hope
By Noel Mitaxa


God has completely forgotten my name. I could once roll with life’s punches, but now I’m too old to care anyway.

Life was once so filled with promise. We were young and nothing could stop us, even when things went wrong. But now there’s no hope.

Elimalech and the boys were so strong. I was proud of him all those years ago, and for how they took on his strength when the famine looked like wiping us out. “We still have each other, so we can’t be beaten,” they said, “but we’ll have to leave here!”

Everybody around Bethlehem heard the rumours about seasons being better in Moab, but nobody acted on them except for us. We had little to take with us when we left, though we chose to load ourselves with hope instead of the gloomy predictions of those we left behind.

We had big dreams as we trudged down through all the dry desolation around the southern rim of the Salt Sea and kept heading east across into Moab.

Such strange people there, but what could you expect when you are surrounded by Gentiles?

God rewarded our faith with great success; even though we had left the land he had promised our forefathers. We rented a farm and we enjoyed his blessing as the boys grew to manhood.

I was so proud of them, with their deep, manly voices and their willingness to work so hard.

We prospered, we embraced our sons’ wives as our own daughters, and we felt we could stare down any threat.

How wrong we were. The locals came to resent our success, and we heard them muttering about “migrants taking all our best. They should go back where they belong!” Somehow our supplies got harder to get, and our prices started dropping while our neighbours maintained their levels.

Just over a year ago, Elimalech came home with a welt on his head where a horse had kicked him. He was quiet over supper and went to bed early. That night he groaned as I nestled against him, so I moved away to give him some space.

When I awoke next day, I reached across and felt the cold stillness of his lifelessness. I tried to warm him with my body, but death’s chill maintained its mocking vigil. If only I could have comforted him in his hour of need.

We wept, we grieved, we moved on; weaker but more aware that life can be short.

I could not have suspected life could get any shorter, but it has. Both of my boys, Mahlon and Kilion, have been taken – both in their prime and with so much to live for. Who can explain this to me? Who can understand the ache in my heart; the emptiness in my stomach; the pounding, ceaseless questions that shred those flickers of sleep that ridicule my weariness? Who knows the numbness that defies all reason when you outlive your children? Who can answer? And why does God run for cover when you need him?

God has forgotten my name. He no longer cares.

My daughters-in-law are grief-stricken. But what comfort can I offer them? I’m too old for any dating agency to snap me onto its list. And even if I found a man and produced new sons, these beautiful girls of mine will never stand a chance in competing against younger women.

It’s back to Bethlehem for me; the sooner the better.

Orpah has kissed me goodbye, for she knows that life holds more for her here among her own people. She is wise, even in her grief, to make this decision. And now I must hear Ruth embrace the same wisdom, for it is for the best. I will miss her, but life goes on – for her if not for me.

But where do these words come from, as the tears fill her eyes and we cling to each other, hearts desperately seeking to deny all that has happened?

“Naomi, don’t ask me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1: 16 – 18 NIV)

Author’s note. In this heart-wrenching, humanly-impossible scenario, God was earmarking the commitment that infused Ruth’s DNA, to sow this character-strength into the genetic makeup of David; who later became Israel’s greatest king.

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This article has been read 593 times
Member Comments
Member Date
James Brown01/12/12
An interesting retelling of the story of Ruth from Naomi's perspective. Ruth is a great example of true commitment.

You have the promise of a strong opening sentence; but for me the adverb 'completely' ruins it. Two more adverbs in the second sentence weakens it further.

The third paragraph threw me for a moment. You start with Elimelech and the boys, but switch to the singular - him. (Note - I believe the proper spelling is Elimelech not Elimalech.)

You do a strong job of telling the story. A little less telling and more showing will provide a grander feast for your readers.

Thanks for the reminder that God is interested in our heart, not where we come from or our position in life.
Linda Goergen01/12/12
No life reflects absolute commitment better than Ruth’s. You picked a very good example for showing commitment and you retold it well. Enjoyed.
Brenda Shipman 01/13/12
Great choice of Biblical characters to illustrate commitment. I liked how you showed Naomi's struggle with bitterness, but also God's provision of Ruth as a faithful companion to continue her journey. Nice job!
C D Swanson 01/13/12
Very nice job with the biblical story Ruth - one of my favorites. I enjoyed this from start to finish. God Bless~
Theresa Santy 01/17/12
I agree with James, a little more showing and a little less telling, would strengthen this piece (come to think of it, I could stand to do the same with my entry!).

I didn't recognize the story at first, but about midway through I recognized this as the story of Ruth, and I smiled wide. Love the application of commitment and enjoyed this piece.
C D Swanson 01/19/12
Congratulations Noel on your HR placement! Nicely done, I really enjoyed this.
God Bless~
AnneRene' Capp01/19/12
Congratulations on you're HC Noel. You did a great job piercing this readers heart with the reality that no matter how heavy my personal burdens seem, are, or have been, I am grateful not to have worn the shoes of others, especially Ruth and Naomi.
Edmond Ng 01/19/12
Interesting perspective writing surrounding the circumstance before the story of Ruth. Well done and congratulation on getting Highly Commended.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/19/12
Wow this is awesome. It really touched me and I think it is my favorite. I loved how you told Naomi's story in such a way that many today can really relate to it. Only God could do such an amazing thing like inspiring you to write this old story in such a fresh way so that people reading it might have hope. Outstanding job, my friend.
Linda Goergen01/19/12
Yahoo! Congratulations Noel on your HC win!!!
Danielle King 01/20/12
An outstanding retelling of the story of Ruth. The emotional content added reality and put me right there in the scene with them.

It reminds me not to whinge about the trivialities in life.

I thought the author's note ended it very well.

You are soooo gifted at retelling, and for me this is the best one so far!

Congratulations on being highly commended. Well deserved!
Danielle King 01/20/12
Oops! What's with all my spaces? Senior moment!
Beth LaBuff 01/23/12
I love how you've enriched the setting and story. Your author's note is profound. Super congrats on your "highly commended."