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The Rev. Anthony Robinson The Rev. Anthony Robinson
The Rev. Anthony Robinson is a minister in the United Church of Christ, author of 12 books, and president of Congregational Leadership Northwest in Seattle, WA.

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Tony Robinson: Determined

December 14, 2014

"Seeing that she was so determined to go with her, Naomi said no more." - Ruth 1:18 

The verse above follows Ruth's famous declaration to Naomi, "Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you live I will live. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God . . . ." 

And those words follow Naomi telling Ruth to go home, to return to her own people in Moab because Naomi's son who was Ruth's husband had died, dissolving the legal obligation between them. 

But Ruth was determined to stick with Naomi come what may. And when Naomi saw just how determined Ruth was, that was, as they say, that. 

Where does such determination come from? What keeps it alive? Are there times when determination is misplaced? 

Winston Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up" (words that seem sort of redundant when you have a mug like his). 

As an Advent virtue, determination reminds us that what it means to be people of faith is that we aren't there yet, but to not give up. But so far as I can tell, that doesn't describe Advent alone. It describes life. 

And (here's an odd thing) such determination is close kin to a word that seems exactly its opposite, "surrender." I'm not talking about "waving the white flag" type of surrender, but surrender as not knowing where things will end up but being determined, nevertheless, to take the next step. That too, so far as I can tell, is how life is. We don't know the outcomes in advance. We only know the next step. We surrender our need to know it all in advance, to be in control, and take that next step (then the one after that). 

When Ruth determined to stick with Naomi she had no idea how things would unfold, i.e. that she would marry Boaz, give birth to Obed and become (foreigner from Moab that she was) grandmother of Israel's greatest king, David, and ancestor of Jesus. She knew none of that. She just knew the next step, and she was determined to take it. 

Show me the next step, Lord, and give me the courage to take it. Amen.

From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit

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