One made it in life; the other one disappeared into the darkness.
What made such a vast difference in their outcome? They were both young women, same racial background, same marital status (widowed) and had the same opportunity to advance in life.
I was counseling my young maid, and used this Bible story on Naomi, Ruth and Orphar (Book of Ruth) to help her understand the opportunities she had in life and how important her choices would make in as far as how she would progress.
There are many reasons why one would find themselves in an environment far from being easy-going or comfortable. Some didn't get the opportunity to get a better education and for some being a maid is the only job there is, even with a good education. Sometimes employment choices are very very limited.
The maid to Naaman's wife was there by virtue of being captured from her homeland by Naaman's soldiers. (2Kings 5) But, I am sure that after she had directed her master, Naaman, to the Prophet Elisha so that he could be cured of his leprosy, she must have been rewarded with a promotion! Her chatty self and unwillingness to be bound by anger and bitterness over her captivity earned her respect and recognition within the household of Chief Commander Naaman. A man so great, yet cursed of leprosy.
Ruth and Orphar were faced with the same sort of situation. Naomi was not the best person in life to pin one's hopes on. Orphar saw that picture and quit 'wasting' her time and quickly went back to her old past. Ruth on the other hand, felt that it was better to move into the gloomy and unknown future than to go back ten years into the past!
Orphar is not the only person who goes back into the past. A lot of us do that. We fear the unknown; we refuse to see the positive or potential in our present predicament. The past seems the best option because we have been there before. What we don't know is that the past has moved even further beyond than we thought. What we were then does not balance anymore to what we are now ten years later. We go back and we find our past little life way too small to fit in and we sink into despair.
A couple of years ago I decided to visit the old village where I grew up as a child. I left that village when I was about fourteen years old. Thirty five years later, I decided to revisit my childhood memories. In my mind I had vivid pictures of the five roomed 'big' house we lived in, the 'large' courtyard that bordered our 'huge' maize field, the 'big' shops near our house, the 'wide' road that ran down to the primary school I had attended. I even pictured the 'very long' distance between the verandah where we used to sit in the daytime and the gate facing the 'huge' road to school. My little feet always used to get tired of being sent to close the 'heavy' gate at dusk.
So off we went with my friend to visit my childhood treasured memories. To this day I regret ever making that visit. I was better off with what I thought I knew than what a shocking experience I put myself through.
I got to the small gate facing a dilapidated small house bordered by a courtyard barely five metres from the fence. It took less than a minute to walk from the gate to the verandah and into the house. The new occupants actually welcomed us by the small shops situated by the narrow dirt road we had come by! Touring that small five roomed house must have been something like how President Nelson Mandela felt when he went back to Robben Island to recap his memoirs! I felt so lost and out of place in that little spot I had treasured as a big lovely place in the sanctuary of my heart for years. Even when I would become ill, I would dream of that lovely place and know that I was going to be well. That brief afternoon visit stole that fantasy away from me and it has never returned. All of a sudden I had become such a giant who had lost the only little space available!
That is what happens when we try to go back in time. Very little, if not nothing, will make any sense. A local drama was once aired on our television for over some months and the theme was on looking ahead, not backwards - "Chiramba wakatarisa mberi kwauri kuenda".
This made the difference in the futures of Ruth and Orphar. Ruth focused her eyes on the future and hoped for something positive to come out of it, while Orphar took her big feet to her small spot in her past. Look ahead not backwards.
Jesus Christ said, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62). So then, even in our Christian walk, we must never be seen as people that go back into the past. Lot's wife (Genesis 19:15-26) did that, and she turned into a pillar of salt, never to ever move again! Now, isn't it such a pity that one would be delivered, set free, and made to run towards safety, only to be enticed by the burning old city to turn back and lose what they had almost gained!