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On the Side - April 2018

The Right Choice

by Carol Mason Shrader

During a time of famine, a man took his family and fled Bethlehem for Moab—a land that chose not to follow God. After his death—and the death of his sons—his wife longed to return to her homeland. No doubt she was returning in a bit of shame, to a family she had left when times were tough. The only bright spot for her—a daughter-in-law who stays by her side, who leaves her own homeland, to remain alongside the mother of her deceased husband, who chooses to be her family.
We were studying this young widowed daughter-in-law in our local Side By Side chapter when the question was raised regarding Ruth’s choice: “But we don’t have a choice about where we go, do we? We have to follow our husbands.”
Ah. Do we have a choice? The match is the culmination of interviews and an algorithm that we may never understand, putting our guys in a program to further their training for years. Fellowship following residency is much the same. Often, our first practice after training is a learning/growing experience and our men opt for a change—more academic, less academic, private, etc. And sometimes, years into their practice, opportunities arise that require more moves.
Do we have a choice?
Well, we might not get the kind of moment on the road to Bethlehem where we declare THIS is our choice—as Ruth did to Naomi, her mother-in-law. But, oh dear ones, we have a choice.
We can choose to whine about yet ANOTHER move. We can choose to complain about leaving friends and family. We can choose to refuse to plug in to our new town. We can choose to voice every complaint to our husband when he comes home. And we can choose to make him miserable for a little or a lot of his time with us.
We have choices.
By following Naomi, Ruth left the provision of her father’s home. Without a husband or father-in-law, she and Naomi are at the benevolence of Naomi’s relatives. They had no home. They had no food. Ruth not only moved to a distant land, she now has to determine how to care for her mother-in-law.
In my mind, the example Ruth sets with her attitude is one of the richest lessons of all in this book of the Old Testament. Do not gloss over Ruth 2:2: “And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor’” (NIV 1984).
Can you follow that? She asked to go follow the workers and pick up anything they dropped. She asked to go get leftovers. In the sun. Where she could be punished for trespassing. Or worse, harmed by the workers.
But Ruth went because she needed to provide for her mother-in-law. Ruth went because she was choosing to joyfully serve Naomi.
God richly blessed Ruth’s servant heart—if you haven’t lately, please go to your Old Testament and read the story of Ruth. Her willingness to pick up leftovers to provide food for her mother-in-law lands her smack in the lineage of JESUS! What a reward!
Match Day was just a few weeks ago, residencies are coming to a close and members of Side By Side are preparing to move all over the world. What choice will you make?
During a time of growth, a young (or not so young) medical professional took his family and moved to a distant land. The days were long. The hours intense. And the stress through the roof. But because his wife chose joy, because his wife chose to make a home in every place the family “landed,” because his wife chose to bloom where they were planted, Dr. Hubby was free to live his mission. And God used them in a mighty way.
Carol Mason Shrader

Carol is in the process of moving to her seventh “foreign land” since marrying her dear Wade. Admittedly, she doesn’t always make the right choice in her attitude but is committed to striving to be more Ruth-like and is praying for each of you as you face impending moves!

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